Bondi, foreclosure firm settle for $2M

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 28, 2011


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced last week her office has settled an investigation into one of the state's largest foreclosure firms.

The settlement was reached with attorney Marshall C. Watson and his law firm for alleged "improprieties in the prosecution of foreclosure cases" throughout Florida, Bondi's office said Friday.

The settlement, which calls for a $2 million payment and imposition of certain requirements to conduct business, is the first stemming from numerous investigations into Florida foreclosure law firms.

"We are aggressively investigating these law firms in order to protect the interests of everyone involved in foreclosure proceedings," Bondi said in a statement.

"Homeowners, lending institutions and the courts deserve to know that the law is being followed and all documentation is true and accurate. Anything short of total assurance of complete accuracy during such serious situations is unacceptable."

Florida leads the nation in the investigation of law firms engaged in the improper production and filing of foreclosure documents.

Bondi's office noted that the Watson firm "fully cooperated" with the investigation since its inception.

Half of the $2 million payment from the firm to the Attorney General's Office will be contributed to the Florida Bar Foundation to continue the Florida Attorney General Mortgage Foreclosure Grant Program, Bondi said.

The grant program provides for the funding of Legal Aid attorney positions throughout Florida specifically devoted to the representation of low-income individuals facing foreclosure actions.

The investigations into the practices of several other Florida law firms are ongoing.

Just last month it was reported that Bondi's office was looking into the Fort Lauderdale firm of Ben-Ezra & Katz. The firm, which processes thousands of foreclosures for lenders, allegedly presented false and misleading documents to judges.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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