Fort Lauderdale law firm Ben-Ezra & Katz is the most recent subject of the state attorney general's mortgage fraud investigation. The firm "appears to be fabricating and/or presenting false and misleading documents in foreclosure cases," according to the allegation listed by the office of Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi.
Ben-Ezra & Katz is the first firm to be added in 2011 to the five total law firms under investigation. As of February 10, Fannie Mae terminated its business with the firm, as it did last year with the law offices of David J. Stern, also under state investigation. Two weeks ago, only days after Fannie Mae cut ties with Ben-Ezra, the firm laid off 182 employees and its affiliated title company laid off 36, resulting in 218 total layoffs.
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Before the layoffs, the law firm and title company had 536 employees, meaning the recent cuts translate to a 40 percent reduction in staff. No further layoffs are planned at this time, according to a company media representative.
Following the 2010 layoffs at David J. Stern's law firm and processing company, DJSP, former employees filed a lawsuit alleging that the company did not comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which conditionally requires 60 days' notice of mass layoffs. WARN records for Ben-Ezra & Katz are backdated, with a notice date of February 21, 2011, and a layoff date of February 14, 2011, one week prior.
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