Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel, Jr., sent a letter to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday asking him not to sign on to a rumored foreclosure fraud deal brokered by the U.S. Department of Justice with all 50 states and two of the nation's largest banks.
The proposed deal has to be approved by Feb. 3, reports Bloomberg News Service.
Hertel is urging the state's top law-enforcement officer to talk to the Michigan people about the deal, which he says has been "shrouded in secrecy." Hertel says the deal is rumored to include immunity from criminal prosecution for executives and employees of JP Morgan Chase and CitiGroup -- something he vehemently opposes.
"If a person committed this kind of widespread forgery and fraud, they would go to jail," Hertel told The American Independent in a phone interview. "Therefore, we believe the banks should meet the same fates."
In Michigan, Hertel has been a leading voice in ferreting out robo-signing foreclosure fraud. Robo-signing is a term used to describe the mass production of forged signatures on legal documents related to mortgage foreclosures and other matters.
Hertel has had a close working relationship with Schuette's office and has referred several cases for criminal investigation. He is also suing several banks and foreclosure firms for allegedly failing to pay millions of dollars in property title transfer taxes. He is also suing the Mortgage Electronic Registration System alleging the same tax dodges.
In his letter, delivered to Schuette's office Tuesday morning, Hertel wrote the attorney general:
I am writing to ask that you stand firm, and refuse to add Michigan to any settlement that would give criminal immunity to the defendants. Our ongoing investigations have demonstrated that the major banks in this settlement, and their hired document mills, were engaged in the practice of robo-signing. Hundreds of residents here in Ingham County, and thousands of residents across the state, were illegally foreclosed upon because of this practice.
These illegalities have stolen due process from our own citizens, and robbed them of precious time that could have been used to recover and resume their mortgages, or obtain a modification. A family who is facing a foreclosure is already vulnerable; this practice insured that they could not possibly reclaim their home.
The full letter is embedded below.
"Those crimes were committed in our offices and essentially destroyed our land property records," Hertel says of the alleged frauds. "You shouldn't be able to buy your way out of criminal investigations."
The Attorney General's office did not immediately respond to an inquiry.
Image: Wikimedia Commons