AG: Lawyer E-Mails Indicate Collusion to Control Foreclosure Billing

August 10, 2013
Denver Post  
mortgage lending news

The office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has accused the state's two biggest foreclosure law firms, Castle Law Group and Aronowitz & Mecklenburg, of colluding to make millions of dollars at the expense of homeowners and taxpayers. Investigators allege that the firms worked together to monopolize the state's foreclosure market. They controlled most of the foreclosure work in Colorado and were able to profit from a state law requiring legal notices to be posted on homeowners' properties. The bulk of the work was steered to process-service firms they owned or had a heavy interest in, and they allegedly conspired to fix the price for posting those notices at $125 -- five times what other companies charged. The scheme raked in more than $2 million in the first year for one of the posting companies. At least one of the law firms then successfully lobbied legislators to change state laws to require a second notice. The first posting tells homeowners of the opportunity to seek a 90-day deferral in their foreclosure, and the second informs them of a court hearing known as a Rule 120 that they can attend. Because the new law was pitched as a campaign for greater disclosure, those who worked to get it passed felt misled after learning of the investigation's findings. "The intent of the bill was to help consumers and neighborhoods," said House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver). "That there are always ways for someone to take advantage is unfortunate." Suthers' office is investigating alleged bill-padding by law firms that specialize in foreclosures, looking particularly at the costs charged for posting legal notices.
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