Report: Law firm in Fla. AG's sights
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is reportedly investigating a law firm that allegedly presented false and misleading documents to judges.
According to the Sun Sentinel, the Attorney General's Office is looking at the Fort Lauderdale firm of Ben-Ezra & Katz.
According to its own website, Ben-Ezra & Katz is a "full service" real estate law firm. Its focus, it says, is Florida foreclosures "including related bankruptcies, evictions, loan originations, REO and Relocation closings and commercial real estate transactions."
The newspaper said the firm, which processes thousands of foreclosures for lenders, is the eighth high-volume foreclosure practice targeted by the state in the last year for similar claims.
Last week, the firm laid off almost half of its employees days after Fannie Mae terminated its relationship. The firm had issued the following statement in response:
"We are extremely disappointed at Fannie Mae's decision to stop using the firm's services. We are also surprised by the action, since the issues leading to their action are things we discovered internally, then proactively informed Fannie Mae and created a plan to correct the problems.
"There is no issue of whether the information in the affected files is correct. No homeowner has been hurt because of this. These are technical paperwork issues -- not a question of whether filing the foreclosure was appropriate. The question is whether the correct original affidavits were attached to each file. We created a remediation plan that we felt would have been in the best interest of Fannie Mae, the mortgage companies, the courts, and borrowers. Unfortunately, Fannie Mae did not give us the chance to execute that plan.
"When the problems of foreclosure files at other firms surfaced last fall, we hired an outside law firm to conduct an audit of our processes and procedures. It is ironic that in trying to make sure we were doing everything correctly, we reached this position with Fannie Mae."
According to the Sun Sentinel, the Florida Bar also is looking at partners Marc Ben-Ezra and Marvin Katz.
Ben-Ezra spokesman Ray Casas released a statement this week announcing the firm retained former prosecutor and state lawmaker Dan Gelber to "provide support with quality control and to help evaluate policies and procedures."
Gelber lost to Bondi in the state attorney general's race in November.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.