Defense lawyers raise new issue: ‘Robo-verifiers’
Some excerpts from the report…
In a deposition conducted in early December by an attorney with the Ice Legal firm, a Wells Fargo employee detailed the bank’s “verification” process. The employee, Alden Berner, said he and two other “legal process specialists” were in charge of verifying all of Wells Fargo’s foreclosure cases filed in Florida. Berner declined to estimate how many cases he verified on a daily basis.
“He got the message not to come out sounding like a robo-signer,” said foreclosure defense attorney Thomas Ice.
A Wells Fargo spokesman did not return a call for comment.
Bank employees have admitted signing hundreds of foreclosure affidavits without checking the information. The revelations of the “robo-signers” created chaos within the industry as lenders and servicers halted foreclosures amid investigations by state and federal authorities.
Berner’s role as a verifier differs from that of a robo-signer. Critics say robo-signers sign foreclosure documents without having knowledge of their contents. In Berner’s case, he testified that he uses a computer only to verify the name of the lender or loan servicer against the name of the investment entity that owns the loan.
That still falls short of the intent of the Supreme Court ruling, critics say.
Berner acknowledged he does not know who places the information in the system he relies on, and does not review any attachments in the complaints. He said he assumed the bank’s attorneys “accurately input that information into the complaint.”
“I did not review the mortgage note and date,” Berner said during the deposition related to five cases. “I rely that our attorneys do their job and put the information in those complaints … correctly based on the information provided to them in our referral process,” Berner said.
Based on Berner’s deposition, Ice Legal has asked a judge to dismiss one of the foreclosure suits with prejudice, which would keep the lender from refiling the foreclosure action. Ice said the situation Berner described is not isolated and expects that will be shown in other depositions. He also plans to file motions to dismiss the other four cases.
“These are the robo-verifiers,” Ice said.
“Berner, through his ‘verification,’ … didn’t really verify anything,” Ice said in the motion to dismiss. “The bank’s counsel could have attached a copy of a comic book to the complaint, and Berner still would have stated that ‘the allegations in the complaint are true and correct.’ “
Check out the article in its entirety here…
Deposition and motion to dismiss below…