Lawyer who exposed robo-signing wins $100,000
A Maine lawyer who once worked for banks was honored for his 'encore career' work for homeowners. When documents looked wrong, he dug deeper and discovered a national scandal.
For many years, Thomas Cox worked as a lawyer helping banks foreclose on the homes of small-business owners who had borrowed to keep their businesses going.
After a while, he grew depressed, retired from his work as a lawyer and became a carpenter.
In 2008, he came back to law, this time on the other side of the table, working for no pay with a Maine legal aid organization to help low-income residents fight foreclosure.
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He was one of five Americans honored last week with a $100,000 Purpose Prize, which is awarded to people 60 and older who are making a difference.
Cox definitely has made a difference in the foreclosure realm: He was one of the first to uncover the robo-signing scandal – the bank practice of hiring people to sign affidavits and other documents without even reading them, let alone verifying if they were true.
"As a lawyer, I have this passion for the legal system and justice and fairness," Cox says in his bio at Encore.org, a nonprofit organization that promotes "second acts for the greater good." "Part of what drives me so hard is that I’m outraged by the abuse of the legal system – by corporate America, by the country’s biggest financial institutions – and I’m embarrassed that my profession participated in creating that outrage. ... I want to do what I can to fix it."
Cox's efforts were the subject of a 2010 New York Times story, which chronicled how he exposed a "limited signing officer" for GMAC (which later became Ally Financial) named Jeffrey Stephan, who signed perhaps 10,000 mortgage documents a month. The Times quotes from Cox's court filing:
When Stephan says in an affidavit that he has personal knowledge of the facts stated in his affidavits, he doesn’t. When he says that he has custody and control of the loan documents, he doesn’t. When he says that he is attaching "a true and accurate" copy of a note or a mortgage, he has no idea if that is so, because he does not look at the exhibits. When he makes any other statement of fact, he has no idea if it is true. When the notary says that Stephan appeared before him or her, he didn’t.
Once these practices came to light, lenders began halting foreclosure cases. The exposure of the widespread practice led to the $25 billion settlement involving the federal government, major lenders and state attorneys general.
Cox plans to continue his work with Maine Attorneys Saving Homes, a network of volunteer lawyers. He plans to use most of his prize money toward his efforts to train and recruit volunteer lawyers to help homeowners in foreclosure cases.
Corporate America is out of control.....and OWNS our politicans with their lobbyists and bribes.
This country would be far better off if we did away wih corporations and only had companies. The tax loops holes would mostly be gone, we would have better products, and there would be more responsibility for all this dishonesty.
Google Zietgiest. Watch the movies especially the first one, then the addendum..
While I don't subscibe to all points of view aired in the vids, a lot of facts are hard to ignore and do become food for thought...
We are ripe for a true cultural revolution and this may be a start...
The problem is the Banks sold,securitze,created (Derivatives which essentially are nothing)the loans multiple times,and in addition were given a BAILOUT.
People do me a favor lookup the word DERIVATIVES?
After they(BANKS) made billions dollars out of the fraud and bailout,the Banks also betted against themselves by buying Insurance and continuing selling the the fraudulent notes,FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS..
None of the FRAUDSTERS WERE PROSECUTED. The very Banks that created the FRAUD now want to foreclose and do not have legal standing to foreclose.
WHAT A JOKE...................
A telephone robot would call give a sales pitch then say "press one to accept offer", "press two to decline", "press three to talk with a representative". A parental role model would call me to the phone and instruct me to press one, presumably so they could claim that they never pressed the button. Would that make me a "limited signing officer"?
Wouldn't instructing someone else to press "do you accept the terms of the agreement" button imply that they did accept the terms of the offer and the person actually pressing or signing ,in this matter, was acting as the principal's agent?
Why punish the 'job creators'? Is it envy? Why don't YOU go out and steal, cheat and kill and get your own money instead of trying to punish hardworking job creating Republicans?
This will just hurt the job creators and make things more expensive in the long run and it will cost JOBS!!! Regulations kill jobs, forcing corporations to actually follow regulations kills even more jobs!!!
What do you think is going to happen when the wealthy can no longer steal from the middle class and cheat the poor? They will all move!!!
Let Corporations regulate themselves, they will do the right thing if you just give them the chance, too many people have seen that movie ' Erin Brokovitch' and think that actually happened, it did not... all those children dying of cancer was propaganda, they died of ummm premature old age ya that's it. Oh and don't forget there is no proven link between smoking and lung cancer.
Thank you Mr. Cox for your gallant efforts.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.