The background of fallen foreclosure king David J. Stern has so far been largely a mystery. But now there's at least one piece of his past that has come to light: the years he spent as a high school soccer coach and how it ended in a spectacular failure.
New Times has learned Stern worked for about three years as soccer coach at Klein Forest High School in suburban Houston. He held the job while taking classes on the side at South Texas College of Law.
His stint as a soccer coach ended in 1984, when he took his team to the state finals, according to three people familiar with his time in Texas. There, he got into a shouting
match with an official, who threw him out of the game.
Later, Stern had to appear before a disciplinary hearing of the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which oversees youth sports in Texas. At the hearing in Austin, Stern blew up in front of the panel.
"Most people say, 'I'm sorry, I was upset,' something like that," said a coach who worked for another Houston high school at the time. "But he went there and said, 'You have no idea what you're doing. You have no authority to discipline me.'"
In response, the UIL banned him from coaching for three years. The suspension forced Stern into law school full-time, the coach recalls, starting him down the road of becoming head of a massive foreclosure mill.
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Stern's background has largely been held in secret since his firm's troubles began last year. In March, the Sun-Sentinel ran a profile of Stern that acknowledged the paper was unable to find out even where he grew up.
At the height of Stern's empire, his DJSP Enterprises employed 1,200 people and netted him untold tens of millions of dollars. It ended last year after accusations that his firm broke federal laws to push through foreclosures, including ignoring rules about making sure military families don't own the homes. Stern has since gone into seclusion and has declined requests for interviews.
But the coach who faced him back on the soccer fields says the news about Stern's fall didn't surprise the people back in Texas.
"I Googled some stuff, and none of it surprised me," the coach said. "He's the kind of guy you could see pulling something like this."