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Entries in David J. Stern (1)

Tuesday
Oct122010

Florida's 'Foreclosure King' Investigated: Questionable Practices?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PLANTATION, Fla.) -- A former paralegal with Florida's largest foreclosure law practice has told state investigators the firm routinely signed court paperwork without reading it, misdated records, forged signatures and passed around notary stamps in the rush to foreclose on homes.

The charges are the latest leveled against the firm of multimillionaire attorney David J. Stern, who has amassed a fortune foreclosing on the homes of struggling families on behalf of lenders. The 50-year-old Stern even considered naming his $20 million yacht "Su Casa Es Mi Casa,” or "Your House is My House," an acquaintance told the New York Times. After his wife and others cautioned against it, Stern settled on Misunderstood. He denied to the newspaper that he considered "Su Casa Es Mi Casa."

In Florida, Stern is foreclosure king, operating the large law firm plus a foreclosure processing company and other support businesses that he recently sold off. His Plantation, Florida firm, which filed 70,382 foreclosure cases last year, is the largest of three under investigation by the state's attorney general, Bill McCollum, for allegedly filing improper documents with courts to hasten the overloaded foreclosure process.

To detractors, the 50-year-old Stern has become emblematic of the foreclosure crisis, the architect of what they call a giant assembly line that has undermined struggling homeowners at a time of record foreclosures. Nationwide, there were 2.8 million foreclosures in 2009. Florida leads the nation in foreclosures with more than 400,000 filings this year alone.

The paralegal, who worked for Stern a little more than a year, described an office where signatures on notarized documents were regularly forged, legal papers were outsourced to Guam and the Philippines, and shouting matches erupted when cases stalled. The accusations, in a sworn statement taken late last month by the Florida attorney general, coincide with mounting nationwide criticism of the practices used to take homes from families.

In the past month, GMAC, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have halted or slowed foreclosure procedures, after bank employees and affiliates admitted to signing thousands of documents without knowing the details of the cases.

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