Action Date: February 7, 2012
Location: Boone Country, MO
DocX, LLC, a mortgage document company and a subsidiary of Lender Processing Services (“LPS”) in Jacksonville, Florida, was indicted on February 6, 2012, by a grand jury in Boone County, Missouri. Lorraine O’Reilly Brown, a former Senior Vice President of Lender Processing Services, and the founder of DocX, was also indicted. This was the first case in which a senior officer of a mortgage document company was charged with crimes relating to mortgage document preparation.
Brown and DocX were each charged with 68 counts of forgery, a class C felony in Missouri and 67 counts of False Declaration, a Class B misdemeanor.
The felony charges can each carry a term of imprisonment not to exceed seven years and a fine not to exceed $5,000 or double the gain from the crime up to $20,000. The misdemeanor charges each carry a term not to exceed six months, and a fine of $500 or double the gain up to $20,000.
The case will be prosecuted by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. “Today’s indictment reflects our firm conviction that when you sign your name to a legal document, it matters,” Koster said. “Mass-producing fraudulent signatures on millions of real estate documents across America constitutes forgery. When you file those documents in our state, you are committing a crime under Missouri law.
The indictment focuses on Deeds of Release, documents issued by banks and mortgage companies when a homeowner/borrower successfully pays off their loan. In some states, these are also called Satisfaction of Mortgages. The documents examined by the grand jury and identified in the indictments were signed by many different people signing the name Linda Green. This practice was first exposed in a segment of 60 Minutes that aired in 2011.
Other employees of a subsidiary of Lender Processing Services were indicted in 2011 in Nevada by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. These employees notarized mortgage documents that had been signed by LPS employees using false names and false job titles.
LPS has steadfastly defended these practices and even coined a term, calling the forgeries “surrogate signing.” Regarding the use of false job titles, LPS has defended this practice by saying such titles were authorized by corporate resolutions from many different banks and mortgage companies.
But while publicly defending these practices, lawyers working for LPS have been filing thousands of “corrective” mortgage assignments in county records throughout the country. In tens of thousands of cases, employees signed the name Linda Green to mortgage documents and identified Green as an officer of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS”) though the real Linda Green did not qualify to serve as a MERS certifying officer because she was not an officer of her actual employer.
Conferring of officer titles to non-employees via corporate resolutions was one of the many practices challenged in a civil lawsuit brought by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan against another mortgage document mill, Nationwide Title Clearing, on February 2, 2012.
Employees in the DocX office signed names to mortgage documents 4,000 times a day for several years. They most often signed false names and false officer titles to mortgage satisfactions and mortgage assignments. The assignments were very often used in foreclosure cases to prove that residential mortgage-backed trusts owned the mortgages and had the right to foreclose even though the trusts had never obtained the necessary documents during the securitization process.
These practices will be a significant part of the examination to be conducted by the mortgage securitization fraud task force, announced by President Obama during the State of the Union address. The taskforce will be co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who filed a lawsuit against MERS and three major banks on February 3, 2012. The New York lawsuit was similar to the lawsuits filed by Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden on October 27, 2011 and by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in December, 2011.
According to the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Biden, “MERS engaged and continues to engage in a range of deceptive trade practices that sow confusion among consumers, investors, and other stakeholders in the mortgage finance system, damage the integrity of Delaware’s land records, and lead to unlawful foreclosure practices.”
The DocX mortgage documents permeate the records of almost every county recorder in the country. From July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009, 1,742 DocX mortgage assignments were filed in Palm Beach County, transferring mortgages valued at $560,239,797. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and American Home Mortgage Servicing were two of the most frequent users of the DocX documents, but over 30 banks and mortgage companies were clients of DocX.