Foreclosure fraud whistleblower found dead

Jeez. I saw the headline and thought, “Gotta stop taking those private planes.”

MSNBC (my emphasis):

A notary public who signed tens of thousands of false documents in a massive foreclosure scam before blowing the whistle on the scandal has been found dead in her Las Vegas home.

NBC station KSNV of Las Vegas reported that the woman, Tracy Lawrence, 43, was scheduled to be sentenced Monday morning after she pleaded guilty this month to notarizing the signature of an individual not in her presence. She failed to show up for her hearing, and police found her body at her home later in the day.

It could not immediately be determined whether Lawrence, who faced up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, died of suicide or of natural causes, KSNV reported. Detectives said they had ruled out homicide.

You don’t know until you know. But I spend part of my day with fictional characters, and this sounds like one of them, the one who’s a stain on the pavement in Chapter 2. Because as a cause of suicide, one year in jail and a $2000 fine makes my personal Poirot say, “Hmm.”

Here’s what the whistleblower did. She:

blew the whistle on the operation, in which title officers Gary Trafford, 49, of Irvine, Calif., and Geraldine Sheppard, 62, of Santa Ana, Calif. — who worked for a Florida processing company used by most major banks to process repossessions — allegedly forged signatures on tens of thousands of default notices from 2005 to 2008 … Trafford and Sheppard were charged two weeks ago with 606 counts [emphasis added].

Nevada is ground zero for prosecutions like this, thanks to AG Catherine Masto. Convictions there push precedent forward and make it harder for other states to ignore prosecutable crimes, especially the face of public (and Occupy) pressure. As Matt Stoller wrote, robo-signing is “criminal theft of private property by mortgage servicers”.

Did I mention 606 counts? Two people? One case? It’s a “target-rich environment” as us former would-be Marines used to say.

Unless, of course, someone finds a way to make other whistleblowers think twice. Hmm.

I can’t begin to wait to see how this plays out.

GP


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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