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Notorious robo-signers still working for Palm Harbor title company

Two employees of a Palm Harbor title company embroiled in the nation's robo-signing controversy are still signing hundreds of mortgage documents in other states.

The signatures of Bryan Bly and Crystal Moore, who work for Nationwide Title Clearing, showed up on 445 mortgage-related records with suspect signatures from October through June 30 in Guilford County, N.C.

The signatures appear on records from Mortgage Electronic Registration System, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and other lenders. Bly signed 290 documents; Moore, 155. The mortgage assignments and certificates of satisfaction transfer loans from one bank to another or certify a loan has been paid off, according to Jeff Thigpen, the Guilford County registrar of deeds.

Nationwide Title Clearing reassigned Bly and Moore after the robo-signing controversy erupted last year, said Pennsylvania-based spokesman Rick Grant. Nothing prevents them from signing new paperwork, he added. Grant stressed that the duo is not signing foreclosure documents.

"They've never been convicted of anything," Grant said.

The Florida attorney general still is investigating the fraudulent-paperwork allegations, a spokeswoman said.

Thigpen said Tuesday that a Nationwide official assured him that the firm has the proper authorization for Bly and Moore to sign the records.

The industry, however, needs to establish measures to protect the integrity of documents submitted for public records, Thigpen said in an e-mailed statement.

"Quite frankly, as a public recorder, I don't want to be a policeman nor an accessory to fraud," he said.

After the outrage in the fall, robo-signers simply shifted to another segment of the industry, said lawyer April Charney, a foreclosure expert with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. She wants company executives held criminally responsible for allowing the practice of mass-signing documents.

Charney compared robo-signers to fire ants.

"You shoot them with Roundup in the hole, and they just pick up and set up shop somewhere else," she said. "This is a never-ending, unfortunate situation. It's fraud."

Bly and Moore made headlines in the fall after admitting, in a video deposition, that they signed hundreds of mortgage documents without ever reading them.

In one deposition, Moore was asked if she ever read any of the documents she signed. She replied, "No.'' Asked how much time she spent with each document, she said, "a few seconds.'' When Bly was asked in the deposition what a mortgage assignment is, he replied: "I'm really not sure."

County officials in at least three states say they have received thousands of mortgage documents with questionable signatures in the past eight months. Lenders say they are working with regulators to fix the problem but cannot explain why the practice, which led to a nationwide halt of home foreclosures, has continued.

The 14 biggest U.S. banks reached a settlement with federal regulators in April in which they promised to clean up their mistakes and pay restitution to home­owners who had been wrongly foreclosed upon. The full amount of the settlement has not been determined. It will not involve independent mortgage processing firms, the companies that some banks use to handle and file paperwork for mortgages.

Information from the Times wires was used in this report. Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markapuente.

Notorious robo-signers still working for Palm Harbor title company 07/19/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 6:51am]
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