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Bank of America delays foreclosures in 23 states

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A document obtained Friday by the Associated Press showed a Bank of America official acknowledging in a legal proceeding that she signed up to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month and typically didn't read them.

The official, Renee Hertzler, said in a February deposition that she signed 7,000 to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month.

"I typically don't read them because of the volume that we sign," Hertzler said.

She also acknowledged identifying herself as a representative of a different bank, Bank of New York Mellon, that she didn't work for. Bank of New York Mellon served as a trustee for the investors holding the homeowner's loan.

Hertzler could not be reached for comment.

A lawyer for the homeowner in the case, James O'Connor of Fitchburg, Mass., said such problems are rampant throughout the industry.

"We have had thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of foreclosures around the country by entities that did not have the right to foreclose," O'Connor said.

The disclosure comes two days after JPMorgan said it would temporarily stop foreclosing on more than 50,000 homes so it could review documents that might contain errors. Last week, GMAC halted certain evictions and sales of foreclosed homes in 23 states to review those cases after finding procedural errors in some foreclosure affidavits.

Consumer advocates say the problems are widespread across the lending industry.

"The general level of sloppiness is pervasive around the industry," said Diane Thompson, counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

Vickee Adams, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo &amp; Co., said Wells' "policies, procedures and practices satisfy us that the affidavits we sign are accurate."

Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Citigroup Inc., said the bank "reviews document handling processes in our foreclosure group on an ongoing basis, and we have strong training to ensure that appropriate employees are fully aware of the proper procedures."

Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Friday they're directing companies they work with that collect loan payments to follow proper procedures.

In some states, lenders can foreclose quickly on delinquent mortgage borrowers. By contrast, the 23 states in which Bank of America is delaying foreclosures use a lengthy court process. They require documents to verify information on the mortgage, including who owns it.

Those states are:

Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

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AP Business Writer Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report.


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