CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Sheriff Tom dart has ended a month-long moratorium on foreclosure evictions, even though a probe by his office revealed “a pattern of irregularities that may rise to criminal conduct.”
Dart’s office announced Friday that it would resume foreclosure evictions after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office advised that it must enforce all foreclosure eviction orders that are signed by a judge, even if a review by Dart’s staff finds irregularities in the file.
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The sheriff’s office halted evictions last month after employees at some of the nation’s largest banks admitted they failed to verify if foreclosures were proper, even though they signed legal documents indicating they were.
Dart’s office also launched an inquiry into a sample of foreclosure cases, which revealed “a pattern of irregularities that may rise to criminal conduct.
The sheriff’s staff found that 70 percent of the foreclosure cases it reviewed used the illegal practice of “robo-signing” on foreclosure documents: a practice in which lenders assign staff to sign mass quantities of foreclosure documents without conducting a thorough review.
As a result, the sheriff’s office has referred several cases to the department’s financial crimes unit to investigate whether lenders or their agents engaged in fraudulent or deceptive practices.
When the sheriff’s office resumes with foreclosure evictions, officials also will provide those facing foreclosure with contact information for free legal aid, social services, the Center for Disability and Elder Law and animal care agencies.
As the sheriff’s office resumes with foreclosures, it will also work with Loyola University Law School to examine 2,200 pending foreclosure eviction orders to check for any signs of irregularities.
Such cases will be referred to the sheriff’s financial crimes investigators.