by Kim Miller | Palm Beach Post |
“The founder of a Florida-based mortgage servicing firm was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday for her participation in a six-year scheme to prepare and file more than 1 million fraudulently-signed and notarized documents.
Lorraine Brown, 56, launched the company DocX, which later became Jacksonville-based LPS Document Solutions.
In addition to her prison term, Brown was sentenced to serve two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000.
In November, Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. She was accused of hiring cheap, temporary workers who were trained to mimic other people’s signatures so that mortgage paperwork could be processed faster, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville.
More documents meant more money for the firm, which generated about $60 million in gross revenue between 2003 and 2009 as the real estate bubble burst and banks pushed to repossess homes.
“Lorraine Brown will spend five years in prison for her central role in a scheme to fraudulently execute thousands of mortgage-related documents while our nation’s housing market was at its most vulnerable point in generations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman. “The documents that were fraudulently produced under Brown’s direction were relied upon in court proceedings, including a significant number of foreclosure and bankruptcy matters.”
While banks did issue special corporate resolutions delegating signing authority to specific, specially trained DocX employees, the complaint said other employees were also signing the names of the authorized signers.
“To assist in the scheme, samples of the actual authorized signers’ signatures were taped to the signing tables,” the complaint said.
The practice was called “surrogate signing,” according to the complaint.
In January, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a settlement was reached with Lender Processing Services and its subsidiaries for more than $120 million. The settlement included 45 other attorneys general, and was negotiated after an investigation led by Bondi’s office.
Florida’s share of settlement is approximately $8.6 million.”