"OneWest Bank did not 'robo-sign' documents," Mnuchin wrote in response to questions from individual senators, "and as the only bank to successfully complete the Independent Foreclosure Review required by federal banking regulators to investigate allegations of 'robo-signing,' I am proud of our institution's extremely low error rate."
But a Dispatch analysis of nearly four dozen foreclosure cases filed by OneWest in Franklin County in 2010 alone shows that the company frequently used robo-signers. The vast majority of the Columbus-area cases were signed by 11 different people in Travis County, Texas. Those employees called themselves vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, managers and assistant secretaries. In three local cases, a judge dismissed OneWest foreclosure proceedings specifically based on inaccurate robo-signings.
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Carla Duncan, a social worker from Cleveland Heights, was snared by OneWest's robo-signing machinery.
On her way out of town for a short trip in 2010, Duncan stopped by her home to get her mail and found a note from a field inspector for her mortgage company saying that her house was vacant and was going to be boarded up.
"It wasn't vacant. I was living there," Duncan said.
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What Duncan didn't know at the time was that OneWest had begun foreclosure proceedings on her three-bedroom home even though she was up-to-date on her payments. * * *
After hiring former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, waging a five-year court battle and filing personal bankruptcy, Duncan was finally able to get the foreclosures dismissed and keep her home and rental property. She said the experience was devastating.
"It's almost like being raped, like being emotionally violated," Duncan said. "It got to the point that I was afraid to open my own door."
Court records show that Duncan's mortgage was robo-signed by Erica Johnson-Seck, vice president of OneWest's department of bankruptcy and foreclosures. From her office in Austin, Texas, Johnson-Seck robo-signed an average of 750 foreclosure documents a week, according to a sworn deposition she gave in a Florida case in July 2009.
Under oath, Johnson-Seck acknowledged that she did not read the documents she was signing, taking only about 30 seconds to sign her name. * * *