Lorraine Brown, 51, Alpharetta, Georgia, former president of mortgage document processor DocX, pleaded guilty to racketeering for her alleged role in authorizing the fraudulent signing of mortgage documents filed in Michigan.
Brown pleaded guilty to one count of Conducting Criminal Enterprises (Racketeering), a 20-year felony, before Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock. She will return for sentencing on May 2, 2013, 1:30 PM. The guilty plea follows an investigation into questionable mortgage documentation filed with Michigan’s Register of Deeds offices during the foreclosure crisis
In April 2011, an investigation was launched after county officials across the state reported that they suspected Assignment of Mortgage documents filed in their offices may have been forged. A “60 Minutes” news broadcast had shown that the name “Linda Green” was signed to thousands of mortgage-related documents nationwide, but with many different variations in handwriting. County officials in Michigan reviewed their files and found similar documents, thus raising questions about the authenticity of the documents filed.
As part of his investigation, documents were reviewed that had been filed in Michigan and prepared by DocX, a document processing company located in Georgia. DocX processed mortgage assignments and lien releases for residential lenders and servicers nationwide. The investigation revealed that former DocX president Lorraine Brown allegedly established and orchestrated a widespread scheme of “robo-signing,” a practice in which employees were directed to fraudulently sign another authorized person’s name on mortgage documents in order to execute these documents as quickly as possible.
Internally, DocX identified this practice as “facsimile signing” or “surrogate signing.” From 2006 through 2009, these improperly executed documents were created and recorded at Brown‘s direction. The investigation revealed that more than 1,000 unauthorized and improperly executed documents were filed with county registers of deeds throughout Michigan.
In addition to the criminal charge brought against Brown, on January 31, 2013, a $2.5 million civil settlement with Lender Processing Services, Inc., the parent company of the now defunct DocX, was reached. The settlement funds will go to the State of Michigan, and the legislature will decide how they will be spent. Affected consumers will have their documents corrected by LPS.
Earlier this year, 49 state attorneys general entered into a settlement with the five leading bank mortgage servicers. The settlement addresses allegations of faulty foreclosure processes and poor servicing of mortgages that harmed Michigan homeowners. The settlement also requires comprehensive reforms of mortgage loan servicing to improve customer service for Michigan borrowers.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the guilty plea.
More information on the 2012 Mortgage Settlement is available on the Attorney General’s Website at www.michigan.gov/mortgagesettlement.
“Shortcuts like robo-signing are just one part of the mortgage foreclosure crisis,” said Schuette. “The message here is clear – if you break the law, there are consequences. We will continue to prosecute criminals who target and exploit Michigan homeowners.”