Marleau bill to help end mortgage fraud headed to the governor

LANSING―Bipartisan legislation that will give prosecutors the tools they need to help put a stop to mortgage fraud in Oakland County and throughout the state was sent to the governor Wednesday to be signed into law, said Sen. Jim Marleau, one of the bill sponsors.

“As homeowners continue to struggle in this tough economy, mortgage fraud can be a particularly destructive crime, overwhelming its victims while costing Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars every year,” said Marleau, R-Lake Orion. “This is a significant step in our efforts to end one of the costliest and most troubling problems facing homeowners.”

The package creates a new crime of residential mortgage fraud and authorizes new sentencing guidelines and increased penalties for crimes such as forging deeds. Mortgage fraud will become a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Marleau’s measure, Senate Bill 252, increases the maximum penalty for violating the notary public law to four years in prison. Under current law, the maximum penalty is one year.

“Most notaries act in full compliance with the law, but there are some bad actors,” Marleau said. “This law will help put an end to the damage they can do.”

The reforms are supported by Attorney General Bill Schuette, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and industry groups, including the Michigan Bankers Association, Michigan Credit Union League, and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

SBs 43 and 249 through 252 are headed to the governor, who is expected to sign them into law.