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Merrimack Valley

February 6, 2013

Register of Deeds will continue to go after $1.3M in restitution from 'robosigner'

The Essex Register of Deeds who is seeking $1.3 million in restitution from a reputed "robosigner" company plans to push forward with his claim after dozens of state attorneys general agreed to a settlement with the company over fraudulent mortgage foreclosure documents.

John L. O'Brien, Register of Deeds for Southern Essex County, said the amount Massachusetts received would not address the problem companies like DocX, which produced certified real estate documents with fraudulent signatures and notarizations for mortgage lenders, created in registries, calling the settlement "chump change."

"I think these companies got a pass," O'Brien said. "They didn’t even get a slap on the wrist."

He compared the problem to an oil spill that DocX, and its parent company Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, should pay to completely clean up, including forensic investigations into the documents the companies filed over 15 years.

The $1.3 million restitution claim was filed last month in federal court in Jacksonville after DocX founder and chief executive Lorraine Brown pleaded guilty in November to federal fraud charges. The restitution would cover the cost of forensic audits of all DocX documents filed and the cost of ensuring they are replaced with valid documents, O'Brien's office has said.

O'Brien said his office's attorney is studying the settlement to see if it affects his claim, but hopes to continue.

Kevin Harvey, the first assistant registrar in the Southern Essex County district, which covers all of Essex County except for Lawrence, Andover, Methuen and North Andover, said the office identified 10,567 documents filed by DocX between 1998 to 2011 that the registry considers suspect.

Additionally, a 2011 forensic audit of all documents filed in 2010 “indicates that such corruption must necessarily extend well beyond the 10,567 admittedly or presumably false or fraudulent DocX/LPS documents that are at present recorded in the Southern Essex District,” O’Brien wrote in the federal court filing. A broader forensic audit would examine tens of thousands more documents to ensure their validity.

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