COLUMBIA — A Boone County grand jury has indicted Georgia company DocX LLC and its founder, Lorraine Brown, on 136 counts of forgery and making false declarations related to mortgage documents.
The criminal charges filed against a company for these fraudulent practices are the first to be filed in the country, according to the Missouri attorney general's office.
The indictment alleges DocX generated fraudulent signatures on 68 notarized deeds of release for properties in Boone County and submitted those to the Recorder of Deeds.
The practice of generating these forged documents, known as "robo-signing," was reported by "60 Minutes" on Aug. 7, 2011. Robo-signees are persons posing as bank personnel or other authorized lenders who sign falsified mortgage documents, which are then used to authorize foreclosures on properties in default.
Banks that were required to produce these documents during foreclosure proceedings did not have them and outsourced responsibility for gathering them to a string of subsidiary companies. DocX, a subsidiary of Lender Processing Services Inc., is alleged to have created these mortgage documents fraudulently, which were then used to foreclose on properties in Boone County.
The Missourian obtained copies of 10 of the allegedly fraudulent mortgage documents from the office of the Boone County Recorder of Deeds. None of the lessees named in the documents could be reached for comment, and several of the phone lines listed for them had been disconnected.
Boone County Recorder Bettie Johnson would not comment on how the documents named in the indictment were determined to be fraudulent or if they raised suspicion at the recorder's office.
All the documents reviewed by the Missourian, however, were signed by a "Linda Green," who was identified as a fraudulent signer by "60 Minutes" and who is listed within the documents as vice president of both Bank of America, N.A. and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who sought the indictments against DocX, said that the "indictment reflects our firm conviction that when you sign your name to a legal document, it matters."
Missouri is involved in a proposed settlement with more than 40 other states against major lenders over fraudulent lending practices. The settlement may yield $25 billion from companies including Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc., according to The Associated Press.
As of Tuesday night, Koster's office had not returned the Missourian's calls for further comment.
Although DocX no longer exists, according to the report by "60 Minutes," it could face fines in Missouri of up to $10,000 per forgery conviction and $2,000 for each false declaration conviction. Brown, the company's founder, could also be sentenced to as many as seven years imprisonment for each indictment.