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“Florida Supreme Court Set to Tackle Foreclosure Fraud”

Speaking of foreclosure fraud . . . 

An important case is headed to our highest court that could affect thousands of foreclosures involving allegations of document fraud by lenders, mortgage servicers, and law firms.

 After noting that “many, many foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents,” the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach asked the Florida Supreme Court to review Pino v. The Bank of New York Mellon .

The Pino case involves a pattern of seeming fraud that is becoming all too familiar. The bank initially alleged in its foreclosure complaint that it held the mortgage note through an assignment from another lender. The bank, however, never included the assignment as part of the complaint. The plaintiff moved to have the case dismissed, sensibly arguing that the bank needed the assignment in order to foreclose. While a subsequently amended complaint did attach an assignment, it was not recorded in land records and was dated, curiously enough, just before the original pleading was filed. As the Sun Sentinel reports, the bank was represented by the law offices of David J. Stern in Plantation, one of the foreclosure law firms currently under investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office for document fabrication.

To establish fraud, plaintiff’s attorney, Thomas Ice, set out to depose employees of Stern’s office to determine the legitimacy of the assignment. But because the bank voluntarily dropped the foreclosure action, the trial judge ruled Pino couldn’t go forward with his case. Though the appellate court agreed with this decision, given the ramifications on state law and reform pertaining to foreclosure document fraud, it sent the matter to the Supreme Court.

 Now it’s a question of whether the highest court in the state will take its cue from the Massachusetts Supreme Court in Ibanez  and invalidate foreclosures where banks can’t prove they hold the mortgages. 

More to come as events unfold.

Please be advised that this article does not constitute legal advice nor does it provide any basis to form an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article should be copied without the express permission of the author.

Mr. Hounchell has a law degree from The University of Florida College of Law and he is a principal in The Law Offices Charles A. Hounchell, P.A., in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Hounchell earned his undergraduate degree from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and he obtained his MBA in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (“Thunderbird”) in Glendale, Arizona.

Mr. Hounchell is a licensed title insurance agent and a real estate agent with Smith and Associates, Inc. http://www.smithandassociates.com/; http://www.livecasanova.com/. He has lived in many different countries, including Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Germany and he speaks Spanish and Portuguese. A significant portion of Mr. Hounchell’s law practice is concentrated on Real Estate Law. He can be reached at 813-230-3376 or charlie@flpropertylaw.com.