The Michigan Attorney General is pushing for passage of a pair of bills that would elevate violations of the state’s Notary Act to felonies punishable by stiff prison sentences and fines. Both measures are part of a package of legislation that would give authorities more power to investigate and punish individuals involved in mortgage fraud.
The proposed new laws — Senate Bills 252 and 253 — have passed the Senate and currently are being considered by the Judiciary Committee of the state House of Representatives.
The package was introduced in response to the recent allegations of fraud involving foreclosure documents filed in the state, Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement. The legislation “will give prosecutors the tools they need to crack down on mortgage fraud and protect homeowners.”
If the bills are enacted, a Notary who knowingly violates the state’s Notary Public Act when dealing with a real estate or mortgage transaction would be committing a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
In recent years, Michigan has consistently ranked among the top 10 states for both mortgage fraud and foreclosure activity. The legislative package also would increase the statute of limitations for crimes related to real estate transactions from six to 10 years. This would give investigators more time to make cases that often do not come to light until years after the fraud has been committed.