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How 2 Pro Bono Lawyers Uncovered ‘Robo-Signer,’ Halting Foreclosures in 23 States

Posted Sep 23, 2010 8:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Maine pro bono lawyer’s suspicions helped uncover a “robo-signer” mortgage employee and halt mortgage foreclosures in 23 states.

Pro bono lawyer Thomas Cox, who is retired from law practice, was representing a homeowner in a foreclosure case when he came across several documents signed by one GMAC employee: Jeffrey Stephan.

Cox, a lawyer in South Portland, Maine, turned for help to Geoffrey Lewis, a lawyer in Fryeburg, the Press Herald reports. In June, Cox deposed Stephan and learned that the employee of GMAC, now known as Ally Financial, was signing off on documents without verifying their accuracy.

It turned out that Stephan was signing 10,000 foreclosure documents a month, giving him only 1.5 minutes to review each document. Cox had uncovered information similar to that revealed in a December deposition. Both depositions were cited in a Washington Post story that says the revelations led Ally to halt foreclosures in 23 states and could pave the way to foreclosure challenges across the country.

"What blew me away," Cox told the Portland Press Herald, "was that Stephan admitted he didn't have custody of the file. It was scanned into a computer and he didn't even look at it. He didn't know if it was a true and accurate copy. He didn't read the affidavits. He just checked the numbers."

Cox and Lewis are volunteers with the pro bono group Maine Attorneys Saving Homes. They are still trying to get a summary judgment overturned in their client’s case.

Before retiring, Cox helped collect money from businesses that had borrowed money from a failed Maine bank, according to The Home Equity Theft Reporter blog, citing a story from the Morning Sentinel.

Additional coverage:

Washington Post: " 'Robo-signer' played quiet role in huge number of foreclosures"

Washington Post: "Amid mountain of paperwork, shortcuts and forgeries mar foreclosure process"

Washington Post: “Amid mountain of paperwork, shortcuts and forgeries mar foreclosure process”

4ClosureFraud.org: "Highlights From a Deposition of Jeffrey Stephan GMAC"

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