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Florida AG Takes Orders, Money from Fraudclosure Firm

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On October 12, 2011 @ 11:27 pm In Foreclosures,Legal,Real Estate | Comments Disabled

Last year, we noted the fantastic report issued at of the Florida Attorney General’s office that detailed the rampant fraud in the foreclosure operations of major loan servicers and banks (Florida Attorney General Report on Fraudclosure [1]). It was put together by June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards.

That was before the AG’s office was sold to the highest bidder. The new AG, Pam Bondi, “mysteriously” decided to fire the two lawyers.

Mystery solved:

“Last December, when she was still investigating foreclosure fraud as a top lawyer in the Florida attorney general’s office, June Clarkson gave a PowerPoint presentation to a legal association.

Her presentation amounted to an indictment of Lender Processing Services, or LPS, a company near the center of ongoing state investigations into claims that foreclosures have been rushed en masse through the legal machinery, without proper documentation. She flashed images of paperwork on a screen under the heading “forgeries,” asserting that LPS’ former subsidiary, Docx, had produced phony documents to justify unlawful foreclosures.

The legal association later sent Clarkson a thank-you note, calling her tutorial “invaluable.” Word of her presentation reached New York, where a state Supreme Court judge cited it in a harshly-worded ruling that a bank lacked the right to foreclose on a Brooklyn home.

But the Jacksonville-based LPS was furious, particularly about one slide in the presentation: an image of the children’s board game Candyland, a satirical reference to the mortgage securitization process. The following month, a lawyer for LPS sent a letter to Clarkson and Theresa Edwards — a colleague who co-authored the presentation — calling their PowerPoint display “irresponsible” and “inflammatory,” adding: “The legitimate question at this point is whether you are still capable of conducting this investigation.”

Upper management in the attorney general’s office, which also received a copy of the LPS complaint, ultimately answered that question in the negative. The incoming director of the division of economic crimes admonished the two assistant state attorneys general, they say. In May, Clarkson and Edwards resigned under threat of being fired, according to the attorney general’s office.”

Florida has some of the highest rates of foreclosure in the country, and is home to many of the companies accused of improper document handling, yet the state’s enforcement apparatus has treated many of these companies with striking lenience, according to former state prosecutors and lawyers who represent Florida homeowners.

Many cite the forced departure of Clarkson and Edwards as a vivid example of how mortgage companies and law firms successfully exploit connections to Florida’s attorney general to soften legal probes, insulating themselves against the consequences of alleged law-breaking.

Of course, we know those denials are nonsense, and these investigators were tossed because they were actually doing their jobs, rather than looking the other way. AG Bondi has been criticized by Florida lawyers for accepting campaign contributions from companies the AG’s office is investigating.

Conflict of interest, anyone?

Thus: Congress has been bought and paid for, the Florida AG’s office is also up for sale. Is everyone in public office merely a whore selling their services to the highest bidder? The level of corruption is beyond comprehension — it is unconscionable.

If I lived in Florida, I would begin a recall immediately to get this pathetic trollop thrown out of office and then I would spend the next 10 years lobbying for her eventual disbarment.

My disgust is hard to put into words.

>

See also:
Florida Asst AG Andrew Spark Scathing Memo [2]

Assistant attorney general resigns after memo blasting Florida AG’s office [3]

Source:
Florida AG Pam Bondi Pressured By Targets Of Investigations To Soften Approach, Critics Say [4]
William Alden
HuffPo October 12, 2011
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/florida-attorney-general-pam-bondi-investigation_n_996541.html


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/10/florida-ag-taking-orders-dirty-money-from-fraudclosure-firm/

URLs in this post:

[1] Florida Attorney General Report on Fraudclosure: http://www.ritholtz.com/blogwww.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/01/florida-attorney-general-report-on-fraudclosure/

[2] Florida Asst AG Andrew Spark Scathing Memo: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/10/florida-asst-ag-andrew-spark-scathing-memo/

[3] Assistant attorney general resigns after memo blasting Florida AG’s office: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/money/real-estate/assistant-attorney-general-resigns-after-memo-blasting-florida-1728715.html

[4] Florida AG Pam Bondi Pressured By Targets Of Investigations To Soften Approach, Critics Say: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/florida-attorney-general-pam-bondi-investigation_n_996541.html

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