Attorney General Investigating Foreclosure Law Firms; the Action Is to Ensure That Homeowners "Have Access to Due Process."

Article excerpt

Byline: ABEL HARDING

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum opened investigations Tuesday into allegations of unfair and deceptive practices by three of the state's largest foreclosure law firms.

The investigations are targeted at Fort Lauderdale-based The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, P.A.; Tampa-based Shapiro & Fishman, LLP; and Plantation-based The Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. The attorney general previously opened investigations into Florida Default Law Group, a foreclosure firm based in Tampa, and Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Financial.

Stern's practice was sued last month in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, by Fort Lauderdale attorney Kenneth Eric Trent, who represents South Florida resident Ignacio Damian Figueroa and is seeking class-action status.

In the suit, Trent says that Stern's law firm generated fraudulent mortgage assignments when pursuing foreclosures, something the suit says violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

"There's an intentional haze that no one can get through," said Trent. "It's designed to hide the fact that no one can prove who owns these mortgages. …