Todd Heywood, Michigan Messenger
The growing controversy over allegedly fraudulent foreclosure documents will receive a hearing Wednesday in the state House Banking Committee. The controversy has also prompted some public officials to call for repeal of Michigan’s foreclosure by advertisement process, and instead adopt a judicial foreclosure act.
The DocX situation made national headlines late last year when many large banks in the nation suspended foreclosures while the banks sorted out ownership documents with fake signatures on them. But Michigan was not impacted by the suspension, and foreclosure started up shortly after the announcement they had been suspended.
Now, those same “robo-signed” documents are appearing in numerous Michigan counties. Michigan Messenger reported last week on Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel, Jr. and his discovery of what have become known in shorthand as the Linda Green documents. Those discoveries have resulted in investigations by the FBI, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
The DocX situation has also resulted in criminal referrals from Essex Southern District Registry of Deeds and Register John O’Brien in Salem, Massachusetts. A release from that office says O’Brien referred 286 possible cases from 2010 alone to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortez, Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley and Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
O’Brien explained his decision in a release:
“If what I suspect has happened, then the people who have committed this fraud should be held accountable for their actions,” commented O’Brien. O’Brien fears that this fraudulent behavior is only the tip of the iceberg and feels strongly that lenders and mortgage servicers should be held accountable for their actions.
Hertel has been invited to testify before the Michigan House Banking Committee on Wednesday morning. Hertel is expected to call for a switch to judicial foreclosure, where the entire foreclosure process is overseen by a judge.
“It’s entirely too easy to foreclose on some one in Michigan right now. The odds are stacked against the homeowner,” Hertel said. Still, he said, “I am realistic enough to understand it is pretty unlikely the state will move to judicial foreclosure.”