Raising questions for the first time about the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the unfolding mortgage-foreclosure crisis, the two government-owned giants are reviewing the work of a Florida law firm they recommended to process foreclosures.
Until now, Fannie and Freddie have been largely bystanders in the widening foreclosure scandal, because they don’t directly service loans, or handle day-to-day management of mortgages. But their use of so-called foreclosure mills, law firms that specialize in quickly processing thousands of foreclosures on behalf of lenders, is dragging the companies into the latest crisis.
Last Friday, Freddie told mortgage servicers to stop sending cases to the Law Offices of David J. Stern, of Plantation, Fla. Fannie followed suit on Monday. The law firm has been at the center of recent allegations by the Florida attorney general’s office, which released a deposition of a former law-firm employee. In the deposition, the employee alleged the firm routinely forged notarized documents amid closed-door screaming matches that broke out because files weren’t moved fast enough.