In many parts of the country, the housing market has improved somewhat, after the shocks of the real estate crisis. With fewer foreclosures happening now, it is hard to fully understand how confused and chaotic the situation was a few years ago.
At that time, the foreclosure system in many states was clogged with an unprecedented number of foreclosures. Those clogged systems led to the so-called "robo-signing" of foreclosure documents in cases where lenders retook property despite the lack of proper documents.
In some cases, these "robo-signing" cases involved mortgage fraud charges. Last week, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that an executive for a real estate document company had pleaded guilty to felony and perjury charges in Missouri.
The former executive has also pleaded guilty in federal court in Florida to conspiracy charges in connection with the robo-signing transaction. The charges were for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Sentencing has not yet occurred in either of the cases. Attorney General Koster said he expected a sentence of between two and three years in the Missouri case.
Both cases grew out of the mass signing of documents relating to mortgages, to be used in the foreclosure process. Authorities argued that the executive whom they prosecuted arranged for the widespread use of signatures that were forged or falsified. The signatures were allegedly used to file over a million real estate documents across the country between 2003 and 2009.
To be sure, that is a lot of documents. But again, the context of the times should be kept in mind. Virtually no one expected so many foreclosures, and robo-signing emerged as an improvised response to an unforeseen situation.
Source: "Plea deals in mortgage-signing in Fla. Mo.," San Francisco Chronicle / Associated Press, Chris Blank, 11-20-12
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our St. Louis white collar crime defense page.