The Florida Supreme Court has disbarred David J. Stern an attorney in Broward County who was the head of the largest foreclosure practice in the state.
The Law Offices of David J. Stern began in 1994 handling foreclosure cases for home mortgage provider Freddie Mac. In 2006 the firm handled approximately 15,000 cases; however, as a result of the economic crash beginning in 2008, the firm’s cases load rose to approximately 75,000 cases in 2009 with 1,200 people employed.
David J. Stern became a listed recommended attorney for handling foreclosure cases in Florida by Freddie Mac, Bank of America, Citibank, GMAC and Wells Fargo Bank. Because of the large number of foreclosure cases being handled, firms such as the Law Offices of David J. Stern were referred to as ‘foreclosure mills’ and David J. Stern was the ‘foreclosure king’ in the state of Florida.
When homeowners fell behind on their mortgages the lenders used foreclosure mills to push foreclosures through the court system on their behalf. It takes weeks to process the legal paper work necessary to remove someone from their home. If the lenders could cut down on the processing time it would save them considerable legal costs. Foreclosure mills reduced the legal costs for lenders by reducing the processing time; however, reducing processing time often meant improper handling of the paper work and abuse of the legal system.
In a 17 count complaint filed last year by the Florida Bar, it was alleged David J. Stern failed to supervise employees accused of improperly processing thousands of foreclosures for lenders. It was also alleged his lack of supervisory oversight contributed to allegations of misconduct, including but not limited to:
• Notary fraud
• Failure to attend hearings
• Failure to attend trials
• Improperly executed documents and legal motions
• Hundreds of attorneys handling thousands of mortgage foreclosure files with substandard administration, direction or control
• Thousands of pending foreclosure cases
• Homeowners/clients left without proper representation
• Homeowners/clients losing their rights of due process
Defense attorney, Matt Weidner has said, “What Stern represents is an industry that was completely unrestrained, unchecked, unpunished and unsupervised. This was business gone wild.”
The Florida Supreme Court approved the report of a legal referee who recommended David J. Stern be disbarred. It was concluded, Stern either knew or should have known inaccurate and/or improperly executed documents were regularly being provided to courts and took insufficient action to investigate the activity or to stop or prevent the improprieties.
His disbarment becomes effective February 6, 2014 and, in addition, he was ordered to pay $49,125.00 in costs to the Florida Bar.
Thomas Ice, a Royal Palm Beach foreclosure defense attorney who helped expose David J. Stern said, “This closes a chapter in the foreclosure crisis and on some of the most abusive practices of these foreclosure mills.”
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