Careers

Foreclosure Lawyer Under Scrutiny Lived the American Dream, Owns a Bugatti, Yacht and Mansions

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Florida foreclosure lawyer David J. Stern lived the American dream before his high-volume operations came under investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s office.

Stern’s firm received more than 6,000 foreclosures a month and managed 100,000 at any given time, according to a regulatory filing in the sale of his non-legal foreclosure operations to a Chinese company, Bloomberg reports. Stern made $146 million from the sale.

He grew up in the Liberty City section of Miami and graduated from the South Texas College of Law in 1986, the story says. He founded his firm in 1994 after working for another law firm that represents mortgage lenders.

Bloomberg checked vehicle and property records and found that Stern owns three homes, one costing $15 million and two others costing $6 million. He owns three Ferraris, four Porsches, a Rolls-Royce, a Cadillac and a Bugatti. He also owns a yacht, according to Stern’s lawyer, Jeffrey Tew.

“David’s wealth is a reflection of his acumen and the tremendous volume of foreclosures,” Tew told Bloomberg.

“He started from scratch and has built a wonderful legal practice and has made a lot of money,” Tew said. “That’s the American dream isn’t it?”

Key staff members also shared in the wealth, sometimes getting cars as gifts, according to a deposition by former employee Kelly Scott, the South Florida Business Journal reports.

Depositions by Scott and fired paralegal Tammie Lou Kapusta are revealing the pressure-cooker atmosphere at the law firm. Kapusta has testified that paperwork got misplaced and bosses yelled at each other in daily meetings for not moving foreclosures fast enough.

Scott said in her deposition that Cheryl Salmons, an office manager in Stern’s foreclosure department, would sign 1,000 documents a day, the Associated Press reports. Salmons didn’t review the documents and sometimes allowed paralegals to sign for her, Scott alleged.

Scott also claimed Stern hid files from inspectors with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and called the mortgage giants his “babies.”

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Law Firm, Paid for Volume, Had 12 People Handling 12,000 Foreclosures at Once”

ABAJournal.com: “After Initial Nix by One County Court, Fla. AG Wins Subpoena for Law Firm Docs From Another”

ABAJournal.com: “Fla. AG Probe: Did 3 Law Firms Get 1,000s of Foreclosure Judgments By Possible Wrongdoing?”

ABAJournal.com: “Layoffs of Perhaps 100 Follow Work Slowdown at Fla. Foreclosure Law Firm”

ABAJournal.com: “Fla. AG Can’t Probe Law Firms in ‘Foreclosure Mill’ Investigation, Judge Says”

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