Booher sponsors new mortgage fraud legislation

LANSING — A legislative package to help crack down on mortgage fraud and punish offenders was introduced recently in the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Darwin Booher, sponsor of two of the measures.

“Michigan homeowners are struggling to make ends meet in a tough economy as they face falling home values, decreasing household incomes and increased costs,” said Booher, R-Evart.  “Each year some consumers fall victim to mortgage fraud.  This bipartisan, bicameral package would enact laws specifically addressing mortgage fraud in Michigan.  It is time we give law enforcement these additional tools needed to investigate fraud, prosecute offenders and ensure their punishments fit the crime.”

The nine-bill package would create a crime for mortgage fraud and make that crime a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

“As a banker in the private sector for more than 40 years, I have seen the hope and excitement of families trying to fulfill the American dream of homeownership,” said Booher, chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.  “It is reprehensible that individuals are taking advantage of that dream for personal gain.”

Senate Bill 249, sponsored by Booher, would increase the penalties for forging real property deeds or obtaining real property by false pretenses.  This would also enact thresholds to punish offenders more severely based on the amount of money they obtained.

Other bills in the package include reforms to:

• Increase the statute of limitations for crimes involving real property transactions from 6 to 10 years;

• Enact new elements for counterfeiting or forging real estate deeds and related documents including a sentence of up to 14 years in prison; and

• Quadruple the penalty for violating the notary public law from one to four years in prison.

Senate Bills 43, 44 and 249-253 have been referred to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee for consideration.  Two other bills, pertaining to forging deeds, are expected to be introduced soon in the House.