After a series of successful fights and kinda-victories fighting our most notorious and unscrupulous foreclosure-mill bank firms, it looks like the AG has dropped the ball when it comes to, in my opinion, one of the hugest perpetrators of foreclosure fraud, Marshall Watson PA.
Yes, the Florida AG has settled with Marshall Watson, completely closing its investigation into the firm. Did the homeowners of Florida get anything? Was Marshall Watson crippled? Are there strict restrictions on how Marshall Watson PA can file foreclosures in the future?
Among the highlights:
1. Marshall Watson settles for a whopping 2 million (in foreclosure mill law firm dollars, that’s pennies). None of that goes to homeowners. Half goes to the AG’s office, and the other half to the Florida Bar Foundation, which is a great cause, but doesn’t directly do much for the tens of thousands displaced wrongfully by Marshall Watson.
2. In order to foreclosure in the future, Marshall Watson only has to have records in its file that it is a “nonholder” of promissory notes “with the right to enforce.” In lay persons parlance, that means that even if they don’t own your loan, that’s OK, as long as they have permission from someone else to foreclose on you. In fact, that’s contrary to what the law in Florida actually is. Marshall Watson in fact got a break here, with a lowered standard than they would have under Florida Law, where it is somewhat unsettled what a “nonholder with the right to enforce” actually is.
3. Marshall Watson only needs to verify its complaints filed from June 2010 forward, when the correct date should be February 2010 forward.
4. They have to review their own affidavits to make sure that they’re accurate and correct, but there’s no oversight. They do their own investigation. It’s like asking your kid to make sure he hasn’t eaten too many cookies, or asking your spouse to make sure she’s letting you watch enough sports. This completely leaves the cat to watch the henhouse (or whatever the saying is). The AG is trusting a firm that has defrauded thousands, to audit themselves.
Word is that some Marshall Watson files have slowed down a bit; likely they will pick up or continue now that this is laid to rest. Ultimately, this is a slap on the wrist for Marshall Watson, and likely part of a broader “exit strategy” from the foreclosure fraud investigation by the AG’s office.
I’m not sure how Marshall Watson got away with riding through this investigation without losing major clients, as is what happened with David Stern and Ben-Ezra and Katz. With both of those firms, Fannie Mae and other major lenders pulled their files in light of the investigation by the AG. I don’t know how Marshall Watson managed to keep major lenders from pulling their files. I personally could produce loads of cases where fraud is just completely blatant with Marshall Watson, and I always considered them one of the worst offenders based on my files.
The agreement is here http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/SKNS-8FAHED/%24file/WatsonAVC.pdf
Article written by Hagen & Hagen Law Firm 3531 Griffin Road, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312 954-241-0234 or 877-733-2733