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Attorney Ralph Fisher had a “eureka moment” while studying some paperwork in a case involving a client at risk of losing his home.
A document that would give the lender's lawyer the green light to take the home was supposedly signed on Dec. 5, 2007, but the date on the notary seal meant the document could not have been created until May of 2008 — five months later.
The discovery of the apparently backdated court document in April led a Pasco County judge to throw out the foreclosure against his client, Earnest Harpster. The case is one of 18 that led the state Attorney General's office to initiate a criminal investigation into three of the state's largest foreclosure law firms.
A closer look at some of those cases illustrates just how suspect the foreclosure court process has become.
The state inquiry comes in the wake of repeated complaints about foreclosure corruption from defense attorneys and homeowners from Sarasota and across the state who have said for years that properties were being unjustly taken by so-called “foreclosure mills” that handle the vast majority of cases on behalf of lenders. Processing huge volumes of foreclosure cases is a lucrative endeavor for the law firms.