Florida Law Firm Bribed Workers to Forge Foreclosures

...and big bribes at that: jewelry, cars, houses
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2010 11:42 AM CDT
Florida Law Firm Bribed Workers to Forge Foreclosures
In this Sept. 22, 2010 photograph, a home has a foreclosure auction sign.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Employees at Florida’s largest “foreclosure mill” routinely altered and forged documents to speed up the foreclosure process—and were rewarded with jewelry, cars, and other lavish gifts as a result, witnesses tell Florida’s Attorney General. Three former employees of the law offices of David J. Stern have made sworn statements saying that firm employees forged signatures, changed dates, and passed around notary stamps freely, the Tampa Tribune reports. They would move forward with cases even if they knew homeowners hadn’t been properly notified.

COO Cheryl Samons blindly signed 1,000 documents a day, according to her legal assistant. For this, Stern bought her a new BMW every year, and often paid her mortgage and other bills. Another employee, David Vargas, was given a car and a house, and many received jewelry. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have suspected the malfeasance—they often came to the office to check suspicious documents. But people inside the organizations would tip Stern off, giving his staff time to hide files before they arrived. (Read more foreclosures stories.)

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