Calfornia attorney general explains decision to leave mortgage settlement talks

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/04/2011 03:56:03 PM PDT

State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tuesday she left national settlement talks with lenders over potential mortgage and foreclosure violations because she doesn’t expect a deal will provide enough compensation for troubled California homeowners.

“I do not believe that the total number of Californians who are in foreclosure would be eligible for relief,” Harris said in a conference call with reporters.

Harris also said she was concerned that a deal would allow lenders to escape civil, or even criminal, penalties for alleged wrongdoing.
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California attorney general explains her leaving mortgage settlement talks

By Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/04/2011 03:56:03 PM PDT

California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a conference call today to explain her decision to leave national settlement talks with lenders over potentially illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices.

In the call, Harris said the state is experiencing a renewed wave of foreclosures and that the dollar figures being discussed in negotiations would not be sufficient to provide relief to Californians at risk of foreclosure.

Harris first announced her withdrawal from settlement talks on Friday. Her leaving clears the way for California to press its own investigation of lending and foreclosure practices, which she said may lead to civil or even criminal filings against lenders.
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Predatory lending defendant pleads guilty in San Bernardino

Another defendant in the one of the county’s biggest predatory mortgage lending cases took a plea bargain today that will give him three years in state prison.

Defendant Eli Hassine, who is one of seven total defendants in the case, pleaded guilty to four counts and admitted a setence enhancement under the terms of a plea bargain before Judge John Martin in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Hassine, 25, was originally charged with 47 counts, including conspiracy, grand theft, forgery and filing false documents. As part of the plea bargain, Hassine wrote a four-page letter to the court and admitted that $2.5 million was taken from victims.
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Update: San Bernardino predatory lending hearing continued to October

A preliminary hearing for four defendants charged in a predatory lending scheme that bilked seven local homeowners was moved to October because defense lawyers are in trial on other cases.

Defendants Eric Pony, 26, his 24-year-old sister Paulette Pony, Eli Hassine, 25, and Jacon Shawn Franco, 46, are scheduled to return to court Oct. 14 and then again for a preliminary hearing Oct. 16 in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The four defendants, all dressed in orange jail garb and seated in a jury box, appeared for proceedings Tuesday and chatted with defense lawyers briefly before the case was continued. At least two defense lawyers asked for the continuance.

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