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Oklahoma presents first mortgage settlement check to Tulsa couple

by Richard Mize Published: October 16, 2012

/articleid/3719307/1/pictures/1858655">Photo - Melissa and Zachary Zuniga of Tulsa talk to reporters as Attorney General Scott Pruitt holds a press conference at the Attorney General's Office in Oklahoma City. The Zunigas were the first to receive compensation from Oklahoma's mortgage settlement with five big lenders, separate from one struck by the federal government and other 49 states. <strong>PAUL HELLSTERN - The Oklahoman</strong>
Melissa and Zachary Zuniga of Tulsa talk to reporters as Attorney General Scott Pruitt holds a press conference at the Attorney General's Office in Oklahoma City. The Zunigas were the first to receive compensation from Oklahoma's mortgage settlement with five big lenders, separate from one struck by the federal government and other 49 states. PAUL HELLSTERN - The Oklahoman

AG explains action

Pruitt took the occasion to extol justice.

“You know, Benjamin Franklin said that justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are,” he said, mentioning two practices engaged in by the big banks, “robo-signing” and “dual tracking,” which incensed the federal government and state attorneys general and led to the national investigation.

With robo-signing, signatures were automatically attached to documents rather than after being personally reviewed by bank employees, as the law required. In dual tracking, banks advised homeowners to go delinquent on their mortgages, claiming it would trigger a review and adjustment and save them from foreclosure, while at the same time preparing to foreclose regardless.

“There was true wrongful conduct that banks engaged in across the country, affecting families and individuals in a powerful way, and many lost their homes, and Oklahoma suffered and dealt with that just like other states across the country,” Pruitt said. “Real harm occurred to Oklahomans, harm that ultimately led to some families losing their homes, harm that led to some families being on the verge of foreclosure. They suffered wrongful conduct.”

Earlier this year, Pruitt said he withdrew from the national negotiation in early 2011 because it had become an attempt to “fix the housing market” by requiring loan modifications and principal reductions rather than just seeking damages for fraud and unlawful practices.

“We took a bold step in March of this year and we said, you know, we're going to focus in Oklahoma on making sure that Oklahoma families receive relief — that when they experience harmful conduct they were going to get more than just an arbitrary check for $2,000 — that our office was going to look into each and every case and say: What kind of harm did you suffer, and how can we provide relief to you?

“You know, those families who lost their homes, we cannot undo that process, and there were a few across the state of Oklahoma that did. We cannot give them back their home. But what we can do is provide them a measure of relief, penalties, monies, that will assist them on the next stage of their life.”

by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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