Friday, July 22, 2011


TAMPA (2011-7-21) -
Attorney General Pam Bondi is fighting back against allegations two of her foreclosure fraud investigators were forced to resign because of political pressure.
The two lawyers helped expose robo-signing and helped shut down so-called “foreclosure mills.”
A statement from Attorney General Pam Bondi issued Thursday says the frauf investigators were forced out because of poor performance, while the two women suggest political pressure did them in.
They were forced to resign in May or be fired. A statement from Attorney General Pam Bondi issued Thursday says they were forced out because of poor performance, while the two women suggest political pressure did them in.
Theresa Edwards worked for three and a half years in the consumer crime section of the attorney general’s office -- a lot of that time with her friend and colleague, June Clarkson.
When the foreclosure crisis hit Florida, Edwards says they started getting complaints about robo-signing.
People were signing documents with fake names. They didn’t have the required witnesses. And they weren’t reading the documents they were signing.
“They were just basically shoving paperwork through. They weren’t reviewing it properly,” Edwards said.
They were recognized for helping to bring robo-signing to national attention. The scandal forced banks to delay thousands of foreclosures as they re-evaluated how things were done.
In January, Bondi took over as attorney general. That’s when Edwards says things changed.
“Rather than sending out subpoenas, as you would expect investigators to do, they wanted us to send out letters inviting people in to discuss the problem with us,” Edwards said.
“Well, it certainly gives the target the heads up that we’re coming and we’re looking. And if there’s anything going on that’s not the way it should be, it gives the opportunity to cover up or hide whatever’s there,” she said.
(Bondi’s office says this accusation is flat-out wrong, and no such directive was given.)
Edwards says the pressure on her and Clarkson grew, but she never expected what happened one afternoon in May.
“They gave us notice on 3:30 on a Friday afternoon that she and I were done at the end of the day, and we could either submit out resignation or be fired,” she said.
Bondi’s office tells a different tale. In a statement released Thursday evening, Deputy Attorney General Carlos Muniz says their division director met with them three times to discuss their performance over several months.
He also says the women were forced to resign because of issues such as “professionalism to opposing counsel,” “proper identification and analysis of legal issues;” and “judgment in discussing matters related to pending investigations with third parties.”
He did not elaborate on those accusations.
Edwards and Clarkson had recently received stellar performance reviews, one as recently as April.
Edwards says there’s another possible explanation.
“I don’t really know, but I think there was political pressure to cause this to happen,” she said.
She declined to say more than that, but others point to Lender Processing Services. They’re a Jacksonville-based company Edwards and Clarkson were investigating.
If you look at campaign contributions to Bondi, a certain address comes up a lot: 601 Riverside Avenue in Jacksonville. It’s the home of Lender Processing Services, its subsidiaries, and the company it recently spun off from, Fidelity National Financial.
Altogether, those companies gave $6,500 to Bondi’s campaign directly. They also gave $78,000 to the Republican Party of Florida – which was itself a major funder of Bondi’s campaign.
Finally, Lender Processing Services recently hired a new senior vice president for government affairs – Joe Jacquot, who until recently was an assistant attorney general for Bondi.
Lender Processing Services did not respond to a request for an interview. Jacquot told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that he has “no particular insight” into the investigation against Lender Processing Services.
He also said he didn’t violate any state laws or Florida Bar ethics rules when he went to work for a target of investigation at the AG’s office – and he may be right.
“The ethics rules are written to actually encourage government lawyer to be able to move into the private arena.”
That’s Bobbie Flowers, an ethics expert and professor at Stetson University College of Law. She does say the job raises ethical questions.
“Even though it doesn’t appear to violate a rule, does it raise some appearance of impropriety on the part of the individual attorney which at least casts some taint on his new position? Obviously,” she said.
“The company is being investigated…wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who has insider information about how these investigations work?”
The Attorney General’s office declined a request for a recorded interview, but in an e-mail, they say that under state law, Jacquot will not be allowed to lobby the Attorney General for two years.
They also say he had no direct oversight of the robosigning cases.
They sat the AG’s office has doubled the amount of resources devoted to fighting foreclosure fraud.
Meanwhile, Edwards and Clarkson have opened up a private law firm in south Florida, devoted to foreclosure fraud. Their story is spreading throughout the media, including a story in the Washington Post.
But the hurt is still there.
“It was very shocking and it was very painful because someone is basically treating you as if you’re doing something that is wrong,” Edwards said.
She’s rather be back in her old job – going after the wrongdoers herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment


If you would like to receive information on how you might avoid the foreclosure of your home, please e-mail me your name, address, and phone number. Someone from our office will be in touch right away to assist you. With Warm Regards, Kelly L. Hansen, HOMEOWNERS HELPING HOMEOWNERS,
Be happy, healthy and prosperous, but most of all, be blessed.
Kelly L. Hansen's photo.

Kelly L. Hansen

Jurisdictionary® just click on the link
Make Sure Your Attorney Is Working For You!
Kelly L. Hansen
33605 W. 88th Street
De Soto, KS 66018
913-269-0399 Phone
888-881-2349 Fax