AS FORECLOSURE QUESTIONS REMAIN, DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS SOBEL AND SOTO SEEK STATUS OF PROBE INTO FRAUD FIGHTERS DISMISSALS

AS FORECLOSURE QUESTIONS REMAIN, DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS SOBEL AND SOTO SEEK STATUS OF PROBE INTO FRAUD FIGHTERS DISMISSALS

TALLAHASSEE – More than one month after Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi sought the assistance of fellow Republican and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to probe the abrupt firings of two top attorneys fighting foreclosure fraud, questions continue to dog the circumstances surrounding their ouster.

On Friday, Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) and Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) launched questions of their own into the CFO’s probe, not only noting their concern that the Attorney General’s office remains involved in a less-than-arm’s-length capacity but asking when a conclusion to the probe was expected.

“As representatives of areas of the state especially ravaged by mortgage fraud and unscrupulous “foreclosure mill” operations, we have been especially interested in the circumstances surrounding the sudden dismissals of both [Theresa] Edwards and [June] Clarkson, particularly in light of their glowing annual performance reviews. Many of our constituents, as well as other concerned Floridians threatened with questionable foreclosure proceedings, remain equally intrigued,” wrote the Democratic lawmakers in a letter sent Friday to Atwater.

“While we remain troubled that it appears that the Department of Legal Affairs is not totally divorced from this probe (according to news reports, your IG Ned Luczynski is reporting directly to James Varnado, AG Bondi’s IG) we are hopeful that the investigation will examine more than just the process by which these two women were fired. And that a documented and well-founded justification for their dismissal is produced.”

The letter from Sobel and Soto marks the latest step taken by the lawmakers since learning of  the controversial dismissal of Edwards and Clarkson earlier this year. As assistant Attorneys General, both women were at the forefront of investigating foreclosure fraud in the state, uncovering such unscrupulous practices as “robo signing” and “foreclosure mills.”

Public records sought by Sobel and Soto released thus far have yielded little insight into validation for their dismissals, although some correspondence has revealed complaints to Tallahassee officials about Edwards and Clarkson by a few of those under investigation in the foreclosure fraud scandal.

As Sobel and Soto then turned to federal authorities for assistance and public pressure mounted, the Attorney General finally opted to turn to a fellow Republican Cabinet member for support by launching what she touted was an “outside” investigation. Tapping Atwater’s inspector general, Bondi announced that, while she supported the dismissals, the investigation was to focus on the lack of documentation surrounding the forced firings.

In the meantime, as Florida remains at the center of the foreclosure crisis, both Sobel and Soto noted in their letter to Atwater their discomfort with the lack of any timeline for the completion of his office’s examination.

“As we are now well into the second month of this assignment, please advise when you expect the investigation to be completed and the findings of Mr. Luczynski’s probe to be made public,” they wrote.

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Full letter and copy of release below…

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4closureFraud.org

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9-16-11 Letter to CFO Atwater re Ag firings status

9-16-11 AtwaterAG firings status

Comments
10 Responses to “AS FORECLOSURE QUESTIONS REMAIN, DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS SOBEL AND SOTO SEEK STATUS OF PROBE INTO FRAUD FIGHTERS DISMISSALS”
  1. Fury says:

    “lacking in documentation?”

    no doubt, bondi’s office will create the missing documentation
    just like the rest of the fraudsters in florida.

  2. housemanrob says:

    …….bet this will pucker up Pam’s cheeks…..and I don’t mean her face!

  3. lizinsarasota says:

    Never forget that this whole thing started with that Jacquot guy quitting his job at the AG’s office to take a position at Lender Processing Services as “governmental liaison.” Remember? Four days later the attorneys from the AG’s office investigating Lender Processing Services were fired, for being “too agressive.”
    Then we discovered that Bondi had taken campaign contributions from LPS WHILE the state AG’s office was actively investigating LPS.
    Then Bondi asked Jeff Atwater, Florida’s CFO, to conduct an “independent” investigation into the firings. Turns out Atwater received contributions from no fewer than TEN Lender Processing Services-affiliated companies during his most recent campaign; big fundraisers for Atwater were Bondi contributors as well.
    To refresh everyone’s memories, I’ll review.
    Contributions directly related to LPS:

    Fidelity National Financial (Atwater, 3/1/07; Bondi, 10/18/2010)
    Fidelity National Title Co. of California (Atwater, 3/1/07)
    Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. (Atwater, 3/1/07)
    Fidelity National Title Co. of NY (Atwater, 3/1/07)
    Fidelity National Financial Inc. – FLA PAC (Bondi, 10/18/2010, 3/31/2010)
    Fidelity Asset Management (Bondi, 6/23/2010)
    First American Title Insurance Co. (Atwater, 11/19/07) now affiliated w/ Fidelity
    National Title Insurance
    Chicago Title Co. (Atwater, 3/1/07)
    Chicago Title Insurance Co. (Atwater, 3/1/07)
    Chicago Title & Trust (Bondi, 6/23/2010, 10/18/2010)

    Alamo Title Holding Co. (Atwater, 3/1/07; Bondi, 10/18/2010)
    Alamo Title Holding Co. (Bondi, 6/23/2010)

    LSI Title Agency Inc., Irving, TX (Bondi, 10/18/2010)
    Lender Processing Services (Bondi, 6/23/2010)
    LPS Agency Sales & Posting (Bondi, 2010)

    Atwater got three donations from registered Fidelity lobbyists.
    a) Fiorentino + Hewitt 03/01/2007
    b) Fiorentino Group 9/23/2008
    c) Martin J. Fiorentino, Jr. 03/01/2007
    http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/contributor_details.phtml?&c=107196&s=FL&y=2008&summary=0&so=C&jmp=Fiorentino#jumpanchor
    He also received two contributions from Black & Meenan, one from Philip Black and one from Black & Meenan – Timothy Meenan is a registered lobbyist for Fidelity.

    Joseph Jacquot – former Bondi staffer, now working for LPS, donated to Bondi’s campaign
    Atwater: Title Industry of Florida PAC (their homepage advertises LPS)

    Holland & Knight (LPS’ in-house counsel) donated to both Bondi and Atwater

    Florida Bankers Association (trying to hurry through foreclosures) Bondi: 6/22/2010, 10/26/2010, Atwater: 03/06/2008

    YOU THINK ATWATER CAN DO A GOOD JOB INVESTIGATING THE PEOPLE WHO PUT FOOD ON HIS TABLE AND A CADILLAC (OR WHATEVER) IN HIS DRIVEWAY???

  4. Ron Moss says:

    The results of the examination of organized crime should relieve Florida from ot it’s Mafia bankers but open up prosecutoril functions in the AG’s activities. We will await punishment sentencing and see if it fits the crime.

  5. Readdocs says:

    You need to look on both sides of the fence to see where the guilty lay. Both sides are
    party what is going on. There’s absolutely NO WAY the private side could continue to defraud
    the investors and the borrowers without complicit aid from the government. This has been
    going on for at least 20 years. Fannie Mae knew for a fact in 2000 that now defunct
    Taylor,Bean,& Whitaker was committing fraud. Instead of turning in the mortgage company,
    they quietly cut business ties with this company. Within that working week TB&W was doing
    business with both Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. Two years later TBW was under investigation
    by the FBI and FHA, and that was the status until August of 2009. Then they were seized
    and shut down permanently. After all the years of fraud, how many have gone to jail? ONE.
    Fannie Mae walked away from this fraud smelling like a rose.

    • Likewise, Fannie became very concerned about the quality of loans which they were backing which had been underwritten by Countrywide back in 2000 and dropped Countrywide like a hot potato.

      I mean, Countrywide had been their preferred lender. In fact, for REO purchases potential buyers were REQUIRED to get qualified with Countrywide, even if they ultimately chose someone else to provide the loan. Mind you, this was a National policy for Fannie Mae.

      Countrywide was so THE lender for Fannie and the sole financial institution as a sponsor for the Fannie Mae national convention. All the convention bags had been printed and the dominant display was in place.

      It was MAJOR ‘egg on your face’ when the Fannie Mae/Countrywide relationship blew up 2 days before the convention. No time to get more convention bags, so they had to be used. the major display was simply taken down and NOTHING put in it’s place.

      Countrywide became mud–overnight.

      How do I know this? I was there. I received Fannie Mae’s First ever Rising Star Award that year.

      I was a Fannie Mae Broker-Specialist so I was required by Fannie to be sure that all potential buyers of the Fannie Mae REO’s which I was selling had, in fact, been pre-qualified by Countrywide.
      While I was working for Fannie, I was offended by the fact that consumers were forced to go thru hoops with a lender selected by the seller in an attempt to force them to get their loan there. As an experienced REALTOR, I knew that Countrywide was a piece of trash. I let buyer’s agents know that they had to follow the Fannie Mae dictate to get pre-qualified–or their offer would not be considered–but they had the right to get their loan anywhere they wanted to.

      Fannie Mae had a clean reputation as a friend to first time buyers and consumers in general. Fannie had a great reputation for educating folks abut the process.

      Under the reign of Franklin Raines, all of that changed. It was partially the leadership and partially. a sign of the times. Suffice it to say that Fannie Mae went to the dogs. By the time I left them in 2002 I was ashamed to be associated with the company.

      Much of what I have learned and taught about loss mitigation and crazy stuff going on inside lending institutions, I learned while working as a Fannie Broker. I later attended a Fannie Mae 3 day loss mititgation training in 2005 which further opened my eyes to the disconnect between what they do and what they say they do.

      Additionally, my Fannie connections helped me to maintain access to internal processes until 2006, when I left Indiana.

      I feel my time as a Broker for them was a major part of my educational journey and has helped me to become an educator and trainer who had the background to say definitively “this is what they do, this is what they mean, this is why that is not going to help you”.

      Suffice it to say, Fannie’s public face has not had much connection to it’s private face at least since 1999. Using the government guarantee as a quasi-government agency to engage in all kind of fraudulent and unethical behavior in order to take risks which would have been considered unacceptable if they had had to become responsible for the fallout was immensely rewarding.

      But we must never forget that Fannie was ALLOWED TO misbehave.

      Fannie was and continues to be bailed out/WITHOUT STRIGENT OVERSIGHT TO THE CRAZY MESS THEY ARE DOING—such as the acquistion of this pool of loans which are most likely a worthless pile of xxxxxx.

      No matter what we say–or find out–or gets reported

      there does not appear to be MORE THAN A FEW DOZEN honest individuals who are in power
      (attorneys, judges, AG’s, elected officials, clerks of court, etc) who gives a rat’s ass about what
      happens to ANY consumer in the United States.-

      Do we need to give up? NO! NEVER! But neither should we operate under the illusion that the organizations, agencies and individuals charged with keeping law and order are looking for the
      truth or plan to do anything about the fraud, etc __UNLESS AND UNTIL they are forced to do so.

      HANG TOUGH/STAY PUT/ REF– USE TO LAY DOWN

      They don’t usually bury folks who refuse to lie down. Seriously.

      mildred1150@gmail.com

      • lvent says:

        Don’t be fooled , the GSE’s were not naive about what was going on here, not by a long shot…..There is no way this much fraud got by them……They knew….The FBI blew the whistle on the mortgage fraud in 2004 to the Bush Administration….and warned of a financial collapse if the problems were not fixed….Nothing was done….

      • Bobbi Swann says:

        @ Mildred – As to the requirement for all potential buyers to be forced to pre-qualify with the lender designated by Fannie, that is outright STEERING. And that is against RESPA. Although as a broker myself I have filed complaints with FREC and RESPA it got me nowhere. They said it’s not a violation since the prequal was not actually an ‘application’ for credit. My ass! Under the new state and federal guidelines of the NMLS you only need 3 out of 5 material aspects to conclude that a prequal is actually an application and pulling credit establishes those 3. Besides, you can’t issue a prequal without a credit file and thus, an application is made! I’ve seen many times where Wells Fargo issued a prequal on a buyer only to find out that the income was not correctly calculated (or even verified) and the buyer went into process on a property spending out of pocket funds for appraisal, home inspection, etc. and then get denied the loan. It’s always the consumer that pays!

  6. Jim Bethea says:

    What would they expect to find??? At least now that plenty of time elapsed since Bondi “locked” these two ladies out of their own offices and sent them on their way???

    I am sure that most people remember Hillary Clinton’s direct involvement in the White Water Scandals ~ the garbage men said they had not seen so much shredder loads of paperwork in the dumpsters since they had been sevicing that location ~~

    Bondi’s first remained silent and would not even give a statement to the firing ~~~ However, when the internet filled with requests to investigate Bondi and the questionable associates of hers, she finally said they 2 ladies were to harass towards the people they were investigating and had to go?? [too harass to crooks who should have been put in jail?] ~~ Now she seems to have changed her tune again; and wants to focus only on the “LACK OF DOCUMENTATION” ~~ Dah, Hummmm wonder where these 2 honest lady’s investigation files are now? Hell, Bondi probably gave them to her friends that were under investigation !!!!!

    This is such a corrupt story filled with one excuse after another ~ All of this possible fraud coming from behind the sceens of the ones that are suppose to be the “sworn by oath” enforement officials for the state of Florida, combined with the fact that a few select ones that want to evade the illegal foreclosures than can be easily proven to be based upon fraudulent means of theft by deception, now wants to make Fl a non-judicial foreclosue state, so they can try to sweep their past fraud under the rug and start fresh with a system that allows the citizens of Florida no apparent due process of law. These criminals of the big banks and their “bottom-feeding” debt collection attorneys would then be free to re-implement their theft by using their old tricks to prevent anyone from questioning the fact that they have “no lawful standing” ~~

    Damn, Ray Charles can see through this ongoing fraud ~~ I sincerly hope that this lack of proper law enforcement does not infect other states that are presently working hard to prosecute these crooks at the controls of this organized criminal foreclosure racket ~~~~

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