Following a Nevada grand jury indictment of two supervisors for a national mortgage servicing company accused of directing what prosecutors describe as a “massive ‘robo-signing’ scheme,” the state Attorney General’s office has charged three more Notaries involved in the case.
A fourth Notary had already pleaded guilty to notarizing a document outside the presence of the singer, but was found deceased in her home the day after she missed her sentencing hearing. While Las Vegas Police detectives have initially ruled out homicide, a department spokeswoman said the timing of her death raised questions.
“We don’t like coincidences like this,” said Laura Meltzer, a public information officer for the department, adding that the case remains under investigation. “We’re waiting for the toxicology report before the final cause of death is determined.”
The three other Notaries have now been charged with a single count of notarizing a document outside the presence of the signer and face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The charges were “the result of Notary practices which did not conform with the legal requirements of our states” and are intended to “ensure the integrity of public documents,” Chief Deputy Attorney General John Kelleher said in a statement.
The case is believed to be the first significant criminal prosecution to emerge from the “robo-singing” crisis since late 2010, and more prosecutions are expected nationwide. In fact, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris on Tuesday announced the formation of an investigative alliance to share resources and evidence between their states to combat misconduct and fraud in the mortgage industry.
“The mortgage crisis is a law enforcement matter, and we will prosecute to hold accountable those who are responsible and also protect homeowners who are targeted for fraud,” Harris said. Nevada and California have the first and second highest foreclosure rates in the nation respectively.
In the Nevada case, two Santa Ana, California-based supervisors of a mortgage servicing firm are accused in a 606-count indictment of directing their Nevada Notary employees to forge and notarize their signatures on hundreds of documents used to initiate foreclosures in the Las Vegas area between 2005 and 2008. In its investigation, the Attorney General’s office uncovered evidence that tens of thousands of fraudulent foreclosure documents were filed with the Clark County recorder’s office, Kelleher said.
The foreclosure crisis has sent shockwaves through the nation’s financial industry and corporate boards, both domestic and international, are placing risk management and liability protection among their top priorities, as reported in the NNA’s Professional Sections. As a result, a greater emphasis is being placed on notarial education for both supervisors and Notary employees.