Phila. law firm investigated over foreclosures

A Philadelphia law firm is under investigation by the state Supreme Court disciplinary board for acting as a foreclosure mill.

Attorneys with Goldbeck, McCafferty and McKeever admitted under deposition to signing off on thousands of foreclosures without reading the documents. 

At least two Pittsburgh homeowners wrongly faced foreclosure due to the law firm’s actions. Partners at the firm said  that in 2006, it was common practice for the firm to sign off on foreclosure cases that were never reviewed by an attorney. Instead, the firm employed 60 non-lawyers — about 40 to 50 of those workers had no legal or paralegal training. According to the complaint, the workers would forge the names of the attorneys.

In one documented case, the process violated federal regulations.

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The revelations could throw into question thousands of foreclosures that have already taken place across the state.

Forrest Huffman, a real estate finance professor at Temple University, said it could create chaos in terms of who now owns those properties.

“In the worst-case scenario they may not have title to the property, they may have to move, the property may have to be reattached to the original mortgage agreement so a new default can be declared and a new foreclosure proceeding can proceed,” he said.

Homeowners who were forced to pay legal fees to the firm could also be due a refund.

Thomas Marrone, a class action lawyer who does complex litigation, said the firm’s actions are appalling

“It’s a little bit difficult to claim the moral high ground when you’re trying to foreclose on a mortgage that you can’t claim is even your own mortgage and you’ve got lawyers saying that you are owed money from these individuals, based upon documents that they’ve never seen and may not even exist,” he said.

Messages left at Goldbeck, McCafferty and McKeever seeking comment were not returned. Their website says the firm specializes in foreclosures and bankruptcies. .

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