At 'Foreclosure King" David Stern law firm, he bought employees cars, even houses
**TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: Foreclosure attorney David Stern is stepping down as chairman of DJSP Enterprises, the public company that processes paperwork from his law firm. He remains CEO and president. DJSP shares drop 18 percent Tuesday to $1.30. Here's the company news release.
Wake up and good morning. Trying to stay up on the flood of information gushing forth about Florida's foreclosure mill law firms is like sipping water from a fire hose. The latest taste is an inside look at the law firm of so called "Foreclosure King" David Stern, courtesy of several depositions of former employees released by the Florida Attorney General's office (which is investigating Stern).
Stern has an unusual corporate set-up. The stock chart above is of DJSP Enterprises (stock symbol DJSP on Nasdaq). It's a publicly traded company that owns the Law Firm of David Stern. The stock trades at about $1.60 these days. As you can see from this 3-month chart, DJSP's value has dropped like a rock this fall.
There are hundreds of pages of depositions from the state attorney general investigation of Stern. But this is certainly one of my favorite excerpts. The deposition of Kelly Scott, an assistant to David Stern foreclosure department office manager Cheryl Samons, states Samons routinely signed 500 files in the morning and another 500 files in the afternoon without reviewing them and with no witnesses. Samons allowed some paralegals to sign her name for her. Read more from the AP here and USA Today here and the Huffington Post here.
The deposition also shows that when the foreclosure mill law firm was humming -- churning out mortgage documents used to foreclose on people's homes at $1,400 a pop -- the perks for the employees were extraordinary. Or should I say absurd?
Here's Scott in her deposition talking about the rewards heaped on Samons and other employees. Stern's office would routinely pay her personal mortgage, a car payment, her electric bills and her cell phone bill, Scott told investigators. And Stern also bought Samons a new BMW sport utility vehicle every year and gave her and other employees jewelry. Additionally, Stern purchased employee David Vargas a house, a car and a cell phone, Scott claims in her statement. Here is the actual deposition.
And it's not as if Stern himself was not enjoying the good life generated by the mass production of foreclosure documents.
Stern owns a $15 million mansion on an island in Fort Lauderdale, a $6 million beachfront condominium in the city, and a $6 million home in nearby Hillsboro Beach, according to property records. The mansion includes an adjoining property he bought in 2009 to make room for a tennis court and parking spaces, according to building records. Cars registered under Stern’s name in Florida include three Ferraris, four Porsches, a Rolls-Royce, a Cadillac and a Bugatti, according the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He also owns a yacht. All this and more is reported by Bloomberg News here.
All this, and more, amid increasing allegations that these foreclosure mills paid no attention to accuracy and even made up documents when they were missing. Wouldn't want any of that petty stuff to get in the way of buying that fourth Ferrari...
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist