The owner of the Fort Lauderdale-based Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson has agreed to plead guilty to offenses found during a Florida Bar investigation in what is believed to be the first disciplinary action taken by the regulatory group against a so-called foreclosure mill.
The consent judgment, which still requires approval by the Florida Supreme Court, would suspend attorney Marshall C. Watson for 91 days _ a move that means the closure of his firm _ and require him to pay $30,000 for a record-keeping analysis, plus $5,931 for the Bar investigation.
All suspensions of 91 days or greater require proof of rehabilitation and approval of the Florida Supreme Court before a lawyer may be reinstated to the practice of law.
Signed in December, the agreement accuses Watson of failing to develop foreclosure policies for firm employees and includes charges that the firm routinely filed court documents alleging a mortgage note was lost without confirming that its clients had in fact lost the note.
Filing a “lost note count” was a time-saving tactic for lender firms. The note was typically found before final judgment.
The Oregon Supreme Court is expected to hear two cases this week involving the mortgage industry’sMortgage Electronic Registration System, also known MERS.
When Wall Street started bundling home loans and selling them off to investors, MERS was created as shortcut around county recording requirements. Instead of recording each change of ownership, MERS is listed on the documents as the beneficiary. And often it’s the party that initiates foreclosure.
This summer, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that MERS lacked the ability to to foreclose on behalf borrowers under Oregon’s non-judicial foreclosure laws.
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New York’s fraud lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) over mortgage securities sold to investors must be dismissed because the time for bringing the claims has expired, the bank said.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s complaint is barred by a three-year statute of limitations, JPMorgan said in papers dated Jan. 4 and filed in New York State Supreme Court inManhattan.
On a side note: JP Morgan will have a problem dismissing their case brought by NY Attorney General because Schneiderman is suing the bank under the Martin Act. Under the Martin Act, the act have a statute of limitations of six years and can be extended if there was a conspiracy involved:
The statutes of limitations for Martin Act causes of action can be extended past six years if there was a conspiracy. Conspiracy is a secret agreement between two or more people to carry out an act that would amount to a federal crime or offense.