August 8th, 2012
(MSNBC) – Once Nevada made it a crime (a felony) to file fraudulent mortgage foreclosure paperwork with the courts, subject to 10 years in jail and fines of $10,000 per violation…
Chalk this up however you want, they just wanted to make sure they are doing it correctly or whatever, the fact that foreclosures stopped as soon as it was made a felony to file fraudulent foreclosure paperwork speaks volumes.
Perhaps the real kicker is Nevada is making sure filers sign affidavits that they have personally familiar with the documents they are filing.
Now there is no more passing the buck… file and sign fraudulent paperwork and go to jail.
Nevada State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto explains why she’s suing Bank of America for a range of violations.
>>> well, there’s new movement today on the foreclosure mess. wisconsin congresswoman tammy baldwin is introducing a congressional resolution, calling on the obama administration and state attorneys general to investigate the banks, which is different from settling with the banks, i might add, to investigate the banks over their so-called robo signing scandal. state attorneys general and the obama administration have been negotiating with the banks over a settlement. bear in mind, there never has been an investigation, which has always been peculiar. anyway, a settlement of claims arising from improper filing of court documents and foreclosures. some state attorneys like beau biden and eric schneiderman and others are resisting the push for a settlement, because they have the peculiar desire to investigate banking practices prior to settling with the banks, which some people think is unusual. with us, one of the toughest law enforcement officials in the country, nevada attorney general catherine cortez masto, who is actually suing bank of america for a whole range of voilsiolations. she’s also backed a tough new law in arizona making robo signing a federal crime. catherine, where do you go next and how do you interpret the increasing momentum, i think, that really is advocating your point of view, which is this is a crime, crimes have been committed, or at least crimes need to be investigated, and people like you need to be supported.
>> well, dylan, you just said it. thanks for having me on your show. you know, the investigation is going to dictate where we go next. we have not stopped our investigations. we’re going to continue in all aspects of the fraud that’s impacting nevada. and the investigation will tell us in what area we are going. as you know, you just said, robo signing is an issue that we have here in nevada. we are investigating both on the civil and criminal side. and you just talked about the fact that we were successful last legislative session in passing legislation to address the robo signing that we were seeing.
>> so educate us a little bit. the law on robo signing in nevada went into effect on october 1st. now if you are found guilty of robo signing, you face up to ten years in jail per offense, as a felony, up to $10,000 per offense. have you seen a change in the number of foreclosures in nevada, which might indicate, obviously, whether robo signing has continued, does continue in nevada?
>> well, that’s a great question. and yes, we have. actually, as soon as it became effective in october, notice of defaults have stopped. i think a lot of the third parties, the people involved in processing these documents are trying to figure out what the new law means and what are they required to do. they’re working with our office, and we’re dictating to them, really, what you need to do is just follow the law. make sure you have personal knowledge of all the documents that you are filing on behalf of the servicer to foreclose on those documents. now, you’re right, there are both criminal and civil implications involved if you do not follow the law. that’s all we’re asking, is to make sure you just follow the law and file the appropriate documents that are required.
>> but at the same time, if you’ve seen a significant falloff in foreclosure activity after the law went into effect, does it not suggest — and it’s speculative on my part — that there was still robo signing, at least as a potential optionalty for the financial institutions before the law went into effect?
>> correct. i would say it’s a combination. there’s no doubt there’s robo signing occurring, because that’s what we’re investigating and that’s what we’re uncovering, but i think there are some legitimate folks out there, third party servicers, who are out there, who are trying to do — make sure they are following the law, they understand the new implications, and they are just really working to — right now, one of the things we’re requiring them is to put together an affidavit that they have personal knowledge of the documents that they are utilizing to foreclose on these homes. so they want to make sure they are utilizing the correct affidavit terms and we’re working with them. so there’s some legitimate player outs there, who just want to understand the new law. but you’re right, i think there are many out there who were violating the law and now they’re trying to figure out what to do.
>> and from a journalistic standpoint, i find perplexing to see there’s a so-called 50-state settlement talk to settle something that not only hasn’t been investigated, but in the case of robo signing, in the state of nevada, may well have been still occurring up until october 1st. and we don’t know whether it’s occurring in florida or southern california or in michigan and some of the other sort of hotbeds of foreclosure.
>> you’re right. there is talk, the multi-state is involved with the robo signing and servicing issue. don’t forget. that’s an important component of this. but from my perspective, as you know, nevada has been so hard hit. i mean, it is incredible, the number of foreclosures we’re seeing out here. and so my concern is not just making sure that they’re following the law when they’re foreclosed, so that the homeowner’s rights are being followed, when they lose their home. but at the same time, keep in mind, there’s a cloud on title. if they are foreclosing on these properties without the proper documentation, now there’s a cloud on that chain of title. and that is not good for our state or the economy, in general.
>> and to that end, attorney general beau biden from delaware has gone directly at the chain of title issue that is in the so-called mers system. i want to play, if i could, a sound bite of him on the show, i guess it was last week.
>> so what we’re trying to do in delaware, and this is a very delaware-specific thing, although i predict to you that other states will follow suit, because they have similar statutes, and trying to hold those responsible accountable. in this man-made disaster, as you have covered better than anyone else, dylan, no man has been held responsible.
>> i pulled the part of the sound bite where he told me i did a good job just as a self-esteem boost for the day. but your thoughts on mers and his actions?
>> i agree with beau. i applaud what he is doing. i think there are various ags, we’re trying to figure out in our state, strategically, where our laws can take us to hold those individuals accountable. some of us are attacking in different areas. that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t all get to the same litigation, but our investigations is going to dictate where we go. but i applaud beau. i think he’s doing a fantastic job. and i agree with him. that’s what we do as ags. we hold individuals accountable, we look for the restitution, and ensure that any damages that any of our constituents have incurred because of some sort of fraud that we’re holding people accountable, but we’re bringing restitution to them. and that’s what i’ve always done.
>> and we are grateful to you, as we are to the others, who have the privilege and recognize the position that each of you hold in each state of this country, as really one of the administrators, or key administrators of justice, and not politics. and i think all of us are grateful to you for your pursuit of that position in that regard. so thank you.
>> thank you, dylan. and thank you for all of your work covering this issue.
>> thank you. i’m going to play a sound bite of you saying that later when you’re not here on a day i’m not feeling that go.