“LPS, which earlier this year hired a Florida assistant attorney general, also is under investigation by the Florida AG’s office. Yet, Ms. Bondi has been all but silent on foreclosures, except to say she doesn’t want the settlement to allow homeowners to get away with not paying their mortgages.”
Bondi can go after banks: Appellate rulings have shielded lawyers, so target lenders
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi should look to Nevada, California and Massachusetts for guidance on handling foreclosure fraud. Attorneys general in those states are going after the lenders and mortgage servicing companies that falsified court documents to foreclose on delinquent borrowers. Florida has, with limited success, gone after the lenders’ attorneys who allegedly did the same.
The 4th District Court of Appeals has now ruled twice that the attorney general’s office does not have the authority to investigate foreclosure attorneys for alleged fraud under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Last year, then-Attorney General Bill McCollum issued subpoenas to Boca Raton-based Shapiro & Fishman, the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson in Fort Lauderdale and the Plantation-based Law Offices of David J. Stern.
The appellate court ruled in April that Shapiro & Fishman did not have to comply with the subpoena because their work on behalf of lenders did not constitute trade or commerce as defined by statute. Ms. Bondi did not appeal that ruling. This month, the 4th DCA made the same finding on behalf of the Stern firm. Ms. Bondi’s office has said it is reviewing that decision.