LPS Foreclosure Fraud Whistleblower Found Dead

Nevada notary Tracy Lawrence, who was due to be sentenced today to up to a year in jail for a single count of misdemeanor fraud, went missing from her sentencing hearing today and was found dead. Per the Associated Press (hat tip reader Scott):

Las Vegas police say it could be weeks before investigators know how 43-year-old Tracy Lawrence died.

Her body was found about 11:30 a.m. Monday at her Las Vegas apartment.

Police Sgt. Matt Sanford says there’s no apparent sign of foul play, and coroner toxicology tests could take up to eight weeks.

Lawrence would have faced up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine earlier Monday for her guilty plea Nov. 17 to one criminal charge of notarizing the signature of a person not in her presence.

KSNV-TV reports ( http://bit.ly/vWSDtv) that Lawrence admitted notarizing tens of thousands of fraudulent documents as part of a wider foreclosure fraud scheme.

Reader Peter W fills in the blank (pun intended) that Lawrence’s document chicanery involved the staff of Lender Processing Services. The version of the story posted at The Fly on the Wall has as its final sentence:

Lawrence had earlier admitted to notarizing “tens of thousands of fraudulent documents” as part of a wider foreclosure fraud scheme involving employees of Lender Processing Services (LPS).

As sad as this is for Lawrence’s friend and family, the more the foot soliders of foreclosure abuses start to face real costs, meaning jail time, the harder it will become to perpetrate these sorts of frauds. That is the way the law is supposed to work, after all.

Update: Holy moley, the initial press reports omitted the key fact: it was Lawrence who turned Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on to two mid level LPS employees who face up to 30 years in jail each if found guilty. From MSNBC:

Lawrence came forward earlier this month and 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 of offering false instruments for recording, false certification on certain instruments and notarization of the signature of a person not in the presence of a notary public. You can read a .pdf version of their indictment here.

Our post on this case, which includes the indictment, is here.

Needless to say, this puts a very different complexion on things..

This post originally appeared at naked capitalism and is posted with permission.