JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The former head of a company where workers forged signatures on mortgage documents pleaded guilty to a federal charge in Florida on Tuesday, the same day a plea agreement on related state charges was announced in Missouri.
The agreements were reached with Lorraine Brown, 56, of Alpharetta, Ga., who was an executive for DocX LLC. Prosecutors said workers who weren't authorized to sign mortgage-related documents forged and falsified signatures, at the direction of Brown and others, allowing DocX to create and file more documents and therefore earn more money.
More than a million fraudulently signed and notarized documents from DocX were filed with property recorders nationwide between 2003 and 2009, during which time DocX generated about $60 million in gross revenue, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Prosecutors said Brown concealed the practice from clients and DocX's parent company, Lender Processing Services Inc.
"The robo-signing practices of DocX were the worst in the country, the most notorious in the country and crossed the threshold into criminal activity," Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said.
Koster said the Missouri plea deal calls for Brown to plead guilty to felony forgery in Boone County and to perjury in Jackson County, with a prison sentence of between two to three years. Sentencing will be delayed pending the federal case.
According to federal court documents, Brown pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Florida to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The maximum federal sentence is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain.
Her sentencing date has not been set in the federal case.
Her attorney, Mark Rosenblum, said Tuesday in a statement that negotiating a legal settlement will allow Brown to begin moving on with her life.
"Lori didn't expect to be in this position. But now that she is, she's facing it with grace and dignity," Rosenblum said. "Without doubt, this is a difficult day for Lori, but it's also a good day."
DocX's main clients were residential mortgage servicers that generally undertake duties for lenders such as accepting and recording mortgage payments, paying taxes and insurance from borrower escrow accounts and conducting or supervising the foreclosure process when necessary, according to the federal plea agreement.
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