Questions raised about notary signatures in foreclosure cases

Questions raised about notary signatures in foreclosure cases

Robosigning is still existing…

Detroit Legal News clerk Chris Fahgren’s notarized signature appeared on dozens of legal documents required for posting public foreclosure notices in the newspaper in late December 2009 and early 2010.

But Fahgren was in a coma at the time, following a Dec. 21, 2009, car accident. Even after she died on Jan. 4, 2010, her signature — dated and notarized — continued to show up in legal documents for more than three weeks, including one dated Jan. 30, 2010.

Fahgren had pre-signed and notarized stacks of documents ahead of time and a co-worker later added the appropriate date when it came time to publish a foreclosure ad, according to testimony in a later lawsuit. It was an admittedly illegal, but routine procedure, the co-worker testified, done to expedite the thousands of foreclosure ads being published monthly during the height of the housing crisis.

Many of those ads came from the Farmington Hills law firm run by David Trott, who had part ownership in Detroit Legal News Publishing and who at the time was getting paid a $500,000 yearly consulting fee by the newspaper.

Trott’s part ownership in the legal publication was among several holdings he had as part of a unique business model that gave him a financial interest at nearly every step of the foreclosure process while while offering a streamlined process to banks overwhelmed with loan defaults. It helped establish Trott & Trott as the largest foreclosure law firm in Michigan, growing to 1,800 employees at its peak and handling — by Trott’s own count — 80,000 foreclosures in a single year.

Trott told the Free Press, in response to questions about the questionable signatures, that he had no control over the day-to-day operations of the Detroit Legal News, and that he was unaware of the practice of pre-notarizing documents and then post-dating them.

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