Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Monday announced he charged an Alpharetta woman, with racketeering for her alleged role in authorizing the "robo-signing " of mortgage documents filed in Michigan.
The felony charge against Lorraine Brown, former president of mortgage document processor DocX, comes a week after the U.S. Department of Justice announced Brown had entered a guilty plea on similar federal charges. The USDOJ said Brown admitted her participation in a six-year scheme to prepare and file more than 1 million fraudulently signed and notarized mortgage-related documents with property recorders’ offices throughout the United States.
The federal plea, to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, was entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Monte C. Richardson in Jacksonville federal court. Brown faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the crime. The date for sentencing has not yet been set.
“Lorraine Brown participated in a scheme to fabricate mortgage-related documents at the height of the financial crisis,” said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “She was responsible for more than a million fraudulent documents entering the system, directing company employees to forge and falsify documents relied on by property recorders, title insurers and others. Appropriately, she now faces the prospect of prison time.”
The federal plea documents states Brown implemented these signing practices at DocX to enable DocX and Brown to generate greater profit.
"Shortcuts like robo-signing are just one piece of the mortgage foreclosure crisis," said Michigan Attorney General Schuette in a news release on his website Monday, Nov. 26. "Our investigation remains ongoing, and we will bring to justice every lawbreaker we find."
In April 2011, Schuette launched his state's investigation after county officials across the state reported that they suspected Assignment of Mortgage documents filed in their offices may have been forged. A "60 Minutes" news broadcast had shown that the name "Linda Green" was signed to thousands of mortgage-related documents nationwide, but with many different variations in handwriting. County officials in Michigan reviewed their files and found similar documents, thus raising questions about the authenticity of the documents filed.
Schuette's investigation revealed that more than 1,000 unauthorized and improperly executed documents were filed with county registers of deeds throughout Michigan.
Lorraine Brown has been charged in Michigan with one count of racketeering, a 20-year felony, in Kent County's 61st District Court. Arrangements are being made for Brown to surrender to Michigan authorities, and arraignment will be scheduled at a later date.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Brown was the chief executive of DocX LLC, which was involved in the preparation and recordation of mortgage-related documents throughout the country since the 1990s. DocX was acquired by an LPS predecessor company, and was part of LPS’s business when LPS was formed as a stand-alone company in 2008. At that time, DocX was rebranded as “LPS Document Solutions, a Division of LPS.” Brown was the president and senior managing director of LPS Document Solutions, which constituted DocX’s operations.