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AG discusses settlement of mortgage lender suit

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A civil deceptive practices suit against the former Countrywide Home Loans has ended with a $2.83 million settlement, as well as other components designed to address the state and country's mortgage foreclosure crisis.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office announced the settlement on Thursday, about nine months after filing a suit against the mortgage lender in Steuben Circuit Court. The suit alleged that Countrywide and its parent company - bought out late last year and now called Bank of America Home Loans - engaged in deceptive and misleading practices that put borrowers in potentially risky and costly loans. Specifically, the AG's investigation found that homeowners were misled about some terms of their loans, including pre-payment penalties and the time period that interest rates would be recalculated.

Indiana was the fifth state to take action against the company, and brought actions under Indiana's Home Loan Practices Act in Indiana Code Section 24-9-8, and Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act in I.C. Section 24-5-0.5.

A comprehensive 38-page final judgment and consent decree was entered by Steuben Circuit Judge Allen N. Wheat on April 23, part of Bank of America's sweeping multi-state settlement announced late last year that could be worth more than $8.6 billion.

With this settlement, a National Homeownership Retention Program is created to help offer affordable mortgage payments to homeowners who financed their homes through subprime loans. Bank of America also expects to modify as many as 5,000 Indiana-based loans that could exceed $54 million in savings for Hoosier families, according to consumer protection spokeswoman Molly Butters in the Indiana AG's office.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller dedicated $50,000 of the settlement to the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network, part of a larger effort in which the Indiana Supreme Court has joined to prevent foreclosure, offer mortgage counseling, educate trial court judges about these issues, and train volunteer attorneys to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Part of the settlement includes $200,000 to Indiana for attorney fees and costs, the decree states.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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