ATTORNEY GENERAL CYNTHIA H. COFFMAN OBTAINS $1.8 MILLION IN PENALTIES AGAINST COLORADO FORECLOSURE LAW FIRM AND TITLE COMPANY
DENVER—After a seven-day trial in a civil law enforcement action brought by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman, a Denver District Court judge found that Colorado foreclosure lawyer, Robert J. Hopp, and his law firms and title companies, violated consumer protection laws in a scheme to charge false and misleading costs for title insurance policies on 2,291 foreclosures.
“Lawyers abusing the foreclosure process to enrich their private bank accounts is a practice that undermines citizen’s faith in the legal profession,” said Attorney General Coffman. “The substantial penalties imposed by the court are just, and should serve as a strong deterrent to anyone else who wants to prey on homeowners struggling to keep a roof over their family’s heads.”
The judge imposed penalties of $2,291,000 ($1,000 per foreclosure) for violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and $1,374,600 ($600 per foreclosure) for violating the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The $3.6M in penalties was reduced to $1.8M due to a statutory maximum penalty cap. The court also awarded the Attorney General attorney fees and costs incurred in prosecuting the case, which will be added to the $1.8M in penalties.
In the written order, Judge Shelley I. Gilman of the Denver District Court found that Mr. Hopp’s law firms and title companies worked together to charge false and misleading amounts for title insurance policies while handling foreclosures in Colorado between 2008 and 2013. Instead of charging the actual, reasonable, and necessary costs that the law firms incurred, the court concluded that the law firms charged for title insurance policies when these charges were not actually incurred and where title policies were rarely even issued. Yet Colorado homeowners seeking to save their homes during the foreclosure crisis were told they had to pay these excessive title insurance policy costs to stop the foreclosure.
This trial resulted from the Attorney General’s investigation of eight Colorado foreclosure law firms, and their related businesses, for deceptive foreclosure costs charged to homeowners and the public between 2008 and 2014. Courts have now entered judgements against seven foreclosure law firms totaling approximately $18M.
For more information on mortgage fraud, go to http://www.stopfraudcolorado.gov/fraud-center/mortgage-fraud
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After the press release issued, the judge reduced the penalties imposed under the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the statute permits the assessment of penalties only for conduct on or after July 1, 2011. Notably, this reduction in penalties did not diminish the judge’s findings that Robert J. Hopp and his entities violated consumer protection laws between 2008 and 2013. After the press release, the judge also awarded the State the attorney fees and costs it incurred from the prosecution. The final judgment against Robert J. Hopp and the other defendants, including penalties, attorney fees, and costs, exceeds $1.3M.
DateAugust 3rd, 2016