Three Notaries charged in a massive ‘robo-signing’ case in Nevada faced a judge for the first time on Dec. 28, but they did not enter pleas as pre-trial hearings were delayed until early 2012.
Prosecutors had expected the Notaries to enter guilty pleas as part of a deal struck for their testimony against two title officers with Florida-based Lender Processing Services Inc., but the Las Vegas Superior Court judge delayed the hearing to give them more time to consult with their attorneys. Notwithstanding their expected pleas, a Nevada Attorney General’s office spokeswoman said two of the Notaries are tentatively scheduled to go to trial in September; the third has not yet had a trial date set.
The Notaries face charges of notarizing documents outside of the presence of a signer and could each be sentenced up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if found guilty. The charges resulted from a 606-count criminal indictment against two California-based title officers of Lender Processing Services, who are accused of directing staff Notaries to forge and notarize signatures on hundreds of foreclosure documents in the Las Vegas area between 2005 and 2008.
The Nevada Attorney general has also filed a lawsuit against Lender Processing Services, accusing the company of engaging in a pattern of conduct that included fraudulently notarizing documents “without ensuring that the Notary did so in the presence” of the signer and implementing “a widespread scheme to forge signatures on key documents to ensure that volume and speed quotas were met.”
The “robo-signing” crisis — which has affected thousands of consumers and is being investigated by law enforcement agencies throughout the country — has starkly revealed the consequences of ignoring or willingly abandoning sound, legal notarial practices. Both Notaries and their supervisors are obligated to know and strictly follow state laws and sound notarial practices whenever a document is notarized.