July 14th, 2011
Econintersect: Assistant Attorney General Theresa Edwards and colleague June Clarkson have been investigating the state's so-called "foreclosure mills" for nearly a year. That can now be changed to "had been" because the two were terminated over a month ago. Acccording to the Palm Beach Post, the action was quite unexpected since both had been given only positive performance evaluations for their work uncovering evidence of legal malpractice that also implicated banks and loan servicers. Their work has been cited as one of the pioneering investigations of serious mortgage and foreclosure documentation fraud.
Follow up:Edwards has provided the Palm Beach Post with a evaluation dated April 22 which praised her performance. The same supervisor who made the performance evaluation demanded she and Clarkson resign or be dismissed approximately one month later.
From the Palm Beach Post:
"It all happened very abruptly," said Edwards, who had worked in the attorney general's office for about three years.
The foreclosure investigations were launched under former Attorney General Bill McCollum, but Edwards said she sensed changes were coming under Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
"I think they wanted to put people in there that were more in line with their thinking," Edwards said.
Others involved in the foreclosure documentation fraud scandal expressed concern about what had happened. Again from the Palm Beach Post:
"I know those two ladies did a yeoman's job, and it perplexed me when they left the office," Josh Bleil, a partner in the Ticktin Law Group foreclosure defense firm, said about Edwards and Clarkson. "They were instrumental in creating the Power Point presentation that blew up everything."
Bleil is referring to a 98-page report titled "Unfair, Deceptive and Unconscionable Acts in Foreclosure Cases," which outlines instances of questionable signatures and notarizations, as well as foreclosures filed by entities that might not have had the legal ability to foreclose.
Critics of the previous Florida AG, Democrat Bill McCollum, under whose tenure Edwards and Clark were hired, has been criticized by Republicans for issuing subpeonas to three law firms last August just before the Republican primary. McCollum was accused by Republicans of being politically motivated.
According to the Palm Beach Post, the AG's office has stated the investigations will continue:
Bondi's press secretary said Tuesday that foreclosure investigations are still open and are being personally led or supervised by Division Director Richard Lawson.
"The division has made these investigations a top priority and will continue to actively pursue all of our investigations into foreclosure law firms," said Jennifer Krell Davis.
But Edwards said she was given no time to brief anyone on the investigations and that there were notes that had yet to be transcribed and filed.
Davis said she could not comment on personnel issues when asked about the nature of the resignations.
Source: Palm Beach Post.
Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.