Legislation

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez Announce Accord to Strengthen Cross-Border Investigations and Prosecutions of Human Trafficking

September 21, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibáñez today signed an accord to expand prosecutions and secure convictions of criminals who engage in the trafficking of human beings.

The accord will increase coordination of law enforcement resources targeting transnational gangs that engage in the sale and trafficking of human beings across the California-Mexico border. The accord calls for closer integration on human trafficking investigations between the two offices and the sharing of best practices for law enforcement to recognize instances of human trafficking and provide support and services to victims. Prosecutors from the two offices today held the second of a series of meetings to implement the initiative.

"California and Mexico are together taking steps to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks that traffic human beings into our state as if they were just another commodity," said Attorney General Harris. "Targeting transnational gangs is a vital component of our efforts to protect public safety in California."

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion global industry and the world’s third most profitable criminal enterprise behind drugs and arms trafficking. The United States Department of State estimates that between 14,000 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the country each year. The National Human Trafficking Hotline and Resource Center received more than 54,000 calls between 2007 and 2011, with more than 15 percent originating from California.

"Criminal trafficking organizations are among the most dangerous threats that we confront and they are drawn to the trafficking of human beings by the high profit and low risk," said Attorney General Harris. "If we aim to be smart on crime, we have to change that calculus. Our goal is to disrupt trafficking networks, increase convictions and force these international traffickers away from our borders."

Earlier this month, Attorney General Harris announced the arraignment on drug trafficking charges of six individuals with suspected links to the La Familia and Sinaloa cartels. Together, these two busts resulted in the seizure of more than 43 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of nearly $2 million.

Attorney General Harris has made the fight against human trafficking a career priority. The Justice Department is preparing an update to California’s Human Trafficking Report, which, in part, will examine the human trafficking activities of transnational gangs in California. This report is an update of a 2007 report mandated by the California Human Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2005, which was sponsored by then-District Attorney Harris and first made human trafficking a felony in California.

In June, Attorney General Harris partnered with Yahoo! and the Polaris Project to direct users to the national human trafficking hotline whenever certain terms related to human trafficking are searched through Yahoo!. The goal of the initiative is to identify more victims of human trafficking by connecting survivors and community members to resources and support.

In addition, two bills sponsored by Attorney General Harris have been sent to Governor Edmund G. Brown for his signature. Assembly Bill 2466 (Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield) ensures that criminal defendants involved in human trafficking will not dispose of assets that would otherwise be provided as restitution to victims, and Senate Bill 1133 (Senator Mark Leno) expands the list of assets that a human trafficker must forfeit and provides a formula for using those resources to help victims of human trafficking.

For more information on human trafficking, visit www.oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Final Components of California Homeowner Bill of Rights Pass Legislature

August 30, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that the final parts of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights have passed out of both legislative houses and have been sent to the Governor’s desk.

“The entire Homeowner Bill of Rights legislative package will ensure fair lending and borrowing practices for California homeowners,” said Attorney General Harris. “California has been the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis and this package of legislation will help affected homeowners, tenants and neighborhoods.”

Senate Bill 1474 by Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, gives the Attorney General’s office the ability to use a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict the perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple counties.

Assembly Bill 1950, by Assemblymember Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles, extends the statute of limitations for prosecuting mortgage related crimes from one year to three years, giving the Department of Justice the ability to investigate and prosecute complex mortgage fraud crimes.

On Governor Brown’s desk is Assembly Bill 2610 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which will require purchasers of foreclosed homes to give tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. If the tenant has a fixed-term lease, the new owner must honor the lease unless the owner demonstrates that certain exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.

Already signed into law is Assembly Bill 2314 Assemblymember Wilmer Carter, D-Rialto, which provide additional tools to local governments and receivers to fight blight caused by multiple vacant homes in neighborhoods.

In June, two key parts of the Homeowner Bill of Rights passed out of both houses of the Legislature and were signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Those bills, which came out of a two-house conference committee, provide protections for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction on dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home. The bills also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers.

All aspects of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights will take effect on January 1, 2013 once signed into law.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces the Passage of Legislation to Combat Human Trafficking

August 28, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced today that two bills that will help victims by making it more difficult for human traffickers to hide their assets have passed the legislature and have been sent to the Governor’s desk. 

Assembly Bill 2466, by Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley), ensures that criminal defendants involved in human trafficking will not dispose of assets that would otherwise be provided as restitution to victims. Senate Bill 1133, by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), expands the list of assets that a human trafficker must forfeit and provides a formula for using those resources to help victims of human trafficking. Both bills passed unanimously with bipartisan support.

“Human trafficking is big business in California. It is a high profit criminal industry that is expanding rapidly across the globe, including here in California,” said Attorney General Harris. “This legislation will make sure those who perpetrate these crimes will not profit from them.”

Senate Bill 1133 ensures that those convicted of human trafficking crimes involving minors will not be able to keep the financial benefits reaped from their unlawful activity. The bill expands the scope of property subject to forfeiture and provides a formula to redirect those resources to community groups that aid victims of human trafficking.

“Sex trafficking of minors is a horrendous crime that is driven by the prospect of lucrative profits,” said Senator Leno. “This legislation aims to deprive convicted criminals of the financial resources and assets that would allow them to continue luring young people into the sex trade. In turn, proceeds from those forfeitures would rightfully be used to help victims begin to repair their lives.”

Assembly Bill 2466 (Preservation of Assets for Victims of Human Trafficking), will help to ensure that more victims of human trafficking receive restitution. Under California law, victims are entitled to mandatory restitution; however there are no laws to help prevent human trafficking defendants from liquidating and hiding their assets before conviction. Assembly Bill 2466 would allow a court to order the preservation of the assets and property by persons charged with human trafficking.

“Trafficking is slavery and we cannot have the perpetrators of this despicable crime gaming the system in California,” said Assemblymember Blumenfield. “We need all hands on deck to confront trafficking. By signing this bill, the governor can help reclaim justice for victims.”

Attorney General Harris is committed to the fight against this fast-growing crime that deprives persons of basic human rights. Harris co-sponsored the California Human Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2005, which made human trafficking a felony in California. Attorney General Harris has also served on the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery Task Force. 

Human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion industry, the world’s third most profitable criminal enterprise behind drugs and arms trafficking. Human trafficking involves the recruitment, smuggling, transporting, harboring, buying, or selling of a person for purposes of exploitation, prostitution, domestic servitude, sweatshop labor, migrant work, agricultural labor, peonage, bondage, or involuntary servitude. While human trafficking often involves the smuggling of human beings across international borders, numerous Americans are trafficked around the United States ever year. Human trafficking strips people, especially women and children, of their freedom and violates our nation’s promise that every person in the United States is guaranteed basic human rights.

For more information on the trafficking of human beings, go to www.oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking

 

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Bill to Curb Blight Signed into Law

August 27, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a bill to combat blight was signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Assembly Bill 2314 by Assemblymember Wilmer Carter, D-Rialto, provides additional tools to local governments and receivers to fight neighborhood blight caused by vacant homes.

“The foreclosure crisis has had a devastating impact on many families and communities,” said Attorney General Harris. “This legislation will help victims of the crisis who remain in their homes, but have been forced to endure the negative economic, health and safety consequences of blight in their neighborhoods.”

“We need solutions to the problem of blight which threatens the health and safety of California communities hit hardest by the mortgage crisis,” said Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter, D-Rialto. “AB 2314 will ensure that local jurisdictions continue to have the tools to prevent and fight neighborhood blight due to foreclosures.”

The new law is part of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights sponsored by Attorney General Harris. The Homeowner Bill of Rights builds upon and extends reforms first negotiated in the recent national mortgage settlement between 49 states and leading lenders. Attorney General Harris secured up to $18 billion for California homeowners in that agreement, and has also built a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to investigate crime and fraud associated with mortgages and foreclosures.

Empty homes as a result of foreclosure invite squatters, bug infestation, and crime in communities, which hurts the market value of neighboring homes. AB 2314 will give new homeowners additional time to remedy code violations and would help compel the owners of foreclosed property to pay for upkeep.

In July, two key parts of the Homeowner Bill of Rights were signed into law. Those bills, which came out of a two-house conference committee, provide protections for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction on dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home. The bills also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers.

Other components of the Homeowners Bill of Rights are pending in the state legislature. These will enhance law enforcement responses to mortgage and foreclosure-related crime, in part by empowering the Attorney General to call a grand jury in response to financial crimes spanning multiple jurisdictions. A bill to provide enhanced protections for tenants in foreclosed homes has passed both houses and is awaiting action by Governor.

For more information on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, go to www.oag.ca.gov.

California Homeowner Bill of Rights Signed into Law

July 11, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that the Homeowner Bill of Rights, which will protect homeowners and borrowers during the mortgage and foreclosure process, was signed into law today by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The Homeowner Bill of Rights prohibits a series of inherently unfair bank practices that have needlessly forced thousands of Californians into foreclosure. The law restricts dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home. It also guarantees struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers, and imposes civil penalties on fraudulently signed mortgage documents.  In addition, homeowners may require loan servicers to document their right to foreclose.

The laws will go into effect on January 1, 2013, and borrowers can access courts to enforce their rights under this legislation.

The Homeowner Bill of Rights builds upon and extends reforms first negotiated in the recent national mortgage settlement between 49 states and leading lenders. Attorney General Harris secured up to $18 billion for California homeowners in that agreement, and has also built a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to investigate crime and fraud associated with mortgages and foreclosures.

“The California Homeowner Bill of Rights will give struggling homeowners a fighting shot to keep their home,” said Attorney General Harris. “This legislation will make the mortgage and foreclosure process more fair and transparent, which will benefit homeowners, their community, and the housing market as a whole.”

“Californians should not have to suffer the abusive tactics of those who would push foreclosure behind the back of an unsuspecting homeowner,” said Governor Brown. “These new rules make the foreclosure process more transparent so that loan servicers cannot promise one thing while doing the exact opposite.”

The Homeowner Bill of Rights consists of a series of related bills, including two identical bills that were passed on July 2 by the state Senate and Assembly: AB 278 (Eng, Feuer, Pérez, Mitchell) and SB 900 (Leno, Evans, Corbett, DeSaulnier, Pavley, Steinberg).

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights also contains a variety of bills outside of the conference committee process. These will enhance law enforcement responses to mortgage and foreclosure-related crime, in part by empowering the Attorney General to call a grand jury in response to financial crimes spanning multiple jurisdictions. Additional elements will help communities fight blight related to foreclosure, and provide enhanced protections for tenants in foreclosed homes. Please see the attached fact sheet for the status of these bills.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights was introduced February 29, 2012 at a press conference featuring Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and bill authors from the Assembly and Senate.

More details about the California Homeowner Bill of Rights are found on the attached fact sheet. To learn more about how the bills impact California homeowners, review the slideshow at: www.oag.ca.gov.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces the Passage of Additional Components of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights

July 3, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that the non-conference committee components of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights have passed out of legislative committees.

“The entire Homeowner Bill of Rights legislative package will create a level playing field for California homeowners,” said Attorney General Harris. “In addition, it will allow my office to continue to prosecute those who take advantage of homeowners who are desperate to stay in their houses.”

Assembly Bill 1950, authored by Assemblymember Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles), passed out of the Senate Judiciary today. The bill extends the statute of limitations for prosecuting mortgage related crimes from one year to three years, giving the Department of Justice ample time to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud crimes.

Two bills to provide additional protections to tenants who rent homes that are foreclosed upon also passed out of the Senate Judiciary and Assembly Judiciary Committees today.

Assembly Bill 2610 (Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley) and Senate Bill 1473 (Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley), will require purchasers of foreclosed homes to give tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. If the tenant has a fixed-term lease, the new owner must honor the lease unless the owner demonstrates that certain exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.

Also passing out of the Judiciary Committees were Assembly Bill 2314 (Assemblymember Wilmer Carter, D-Rialto) and Senate Bill 1472 (Senator Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), which provide additional tools to local governments and receivers to fight blight caused by multiple vacant homes in neighborhoods.

The final component in the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, AB 1763 (Assemblymember Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles) and Senate Bill 1474 (Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley), gives Attorney General Harris the ability to convene a special grand jury to investigate and indict the perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple counties. AB 1763 and SB 1474 passed out of the Senate Public Safety and Assembly Public Safety, respectively.

Two key parts of the Homeowner Bill of Rights passed Monday out of both houses of the Legislature and sent to Governor Jerry Brown. Those bills, which came out of a two-house conference committee, provide protections for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction on dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home. The bills also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights extends Attorney General Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis. Attorney General Harris created a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in March, 2011 to investigate and prosecute misconduct related to mortgages and foreclosures. In February 2012 Attorney General Harris extracted a commitment from the nation’s five largest banks to dedicate an estimated $18 billion to mitigate financial harm to California borrowers caused by bank misconduct in the foreclosure process.

For more information on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, go to www.oag.ca.gov

California Homeowner Bill of Rights Passes Legislature, Bringing Mortgage Reforms One Step Closer to Law

July 2, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the California Homeowner Bill of Rights is one step closer to becoming law after key provisions passed the California Legislature today. The bills, which provide first of their kind protections for homeowners and reforms to the mortgage and foreclosure process, will now be sent to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for consideration. The bills were approved 53 to 25 in the Assembly and 25 to 13 in the Senate.

“Passing these key elements of Homeowner Bill of Rights represents a significant step forward for struggling homeowners,” said Attorney General Harris. “These common-sense reforms will require banks to treat California homeowners more fairly and bring more transparency and accountability to their practices in our state. Responsible homeowners will have a better shot to keep their homes.”

“Californians will finally have a fighting chance to keep their homes, as this measure brings fairness to the loan modification and foreclosure process,” said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “At the same time, the protection gained by homeowners will help stabilize the housing sector of our economy. I applaud my colleagues for their hard work to protect consumers through this reasoned compromise.”

“The package approved by the Legislature today is a major victory for California’s consumers,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. “We impose tough new regulations on banks and lenders to stop the abusive practices we’ve seen since the collapse of the housing market, and this package will bring relief to hundreds of thousands of California homeowners.”

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights consists of a series of related bills, including two that were passed on June 26 by a two-house conference committee: AB 278 (Eng, Feuer, Pérez, Mitchell) and SB 900 (Leno, Evans, Corbett, DeSaulnier, Pavley, Steinberg). 

The two identical bills passed by the conference committee contain key elements of the legislative package and provide protections for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction on dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home. The bills also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers. For the first time, the Homeowner Bill of Rights imposes civil penalties, of up to $7,500, on the repeated filing of foreclosure documents without verifying their accuracy, a practice commonly known as “robo-signing.” In addition, homeowners may require loan servicers to document their right to foreclose.

Homeowners will also have a clearly-defined right to access the courts to protect themselves from violations of these protections.

The Homeowner Bill of Rights also consists of four bills outside of the conference committee process.  These will enhance law enforcement responses to mortgage and foreclosure-related crime, in part by empowering the Attorney General to call a grand jury in response to financial crimes spanning multiple jurisdictions. Additional elements will help communities fight blight related to foreclosure, and the crime that results, and provide enhanced protections for tenants in foreclosed homes. Please see the attached fact sheet for the status of these bills.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights was introduced February 29, 2012 at a press conference featuring Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and bill authors from the Assembly and Senate. The Homeowner Bill of Rights codifies many of the core protections from the recent national mortgage settlement.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights extends Attorney General Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis. Attorney General Harris created a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in March, 2011 to investigate and prosecute misconduct related to mortgages and foreclosures. In February 2012 Attorney General Harris extracted a commitment from the nation’s five largest banks to dedicate an estimated $18 billion to mitigate financial harm to California borrowers caused by bank misconduct in the foreclosure process.

More details about the California Homeowner Bill of Rights are found on the attached fact sheet. To learn more about how the bills impact California homeowners, review the slideshow at: www.oag.ca.gov.

AttachmentSize
File Fact Sheet, docx20.21 KB
PDF icon Fact Sheet, pdf24.68 KB

California Homeowner Bill of Rights Takes Key Step to Passage

June 27, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the passage of two central elements of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights through a special two-house conference committee. The 4 to 1 vote sends the bills to an expected vote next week in both the Assembly and Senate.

The two bills approved by the conference committee are the Foreclosure Reduction Act, which restricts the process of “dual-tracked” foreclosures and the Due Process Rights Act, which guarantees a reliable contact for struggling homeowners to discuss their loan with and which for the first time imposes civil penalties on the practice of fraudulently signing foreclosure documents without verifying their accuracy, a practice commonly known as “robo-signing.” The proposed legislation also includes meaningful enforcement for borrowers whose rights are violated.

The full Homeowner Bill of Rights includes additional provisions to reduce blight, ensure appropriate law enforcement response to mortgage fraud and crime, and protect tenants.  The bills containing these protections are also advancing through the Legislature.

“I am gratified by this vote, which represents one more step toward our goal of achieving a Homeowner Bill of Rights for California,” said Attorney General Harris. “The mortgage and foreclosure crisis in our state demands urgent efforts to help Californians keep their homes. The legislature will now have the opportunity to cast a vote on behalf of California’s struggling homeowners.”

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights was introduced February 29, 2012 at a press conference featuring Assembly Speaker John A. Perez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and bill authors from the Assembly and Senate. The goal of the Homeowner Bill of Rights is to take many of the mortgage reforms extracted from banks in a national mortgage settlement and write them into California law so they could apply to all mortgage-holders in the state.

“The mortgage and foreclosure abuse in California ends here,” said Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), co-chair of the Joint Conference Committee. “This committee has passed historic legislation that codifies the
protections eligible homeowners deserve, while helping to stabilize the foreclosure crisis that has thwarted California’s economic recovery. The Legislature has studied, listened and engaged Californians and
industry to find a solution that is fair and effective to mitigate this crisis. I look forward to the full support of the Legislature and Governor in implementing this package.”

“This bill is the result of a long and difficult process in which we received input from all interested parties; including homeowners and the banks and found that foreclosures benefit no one,” said Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra). “We ended such dubious practices as having a bank foreclose while a homeowner is in the process of modifying a loan and cut through confusion by making sure that there is a ‘single point of contact’ with mortgage servicers.  With half a million California homes at risk of foreclosure, this action was urgently needed.”

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights extends Attorney General Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis. Attorney General Harris created a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in March, 2011 to investigate and prosecute misconduct related to mortgages and foreclosures. In February 2012 Attorney General Harris extracted a commitment from the nation’s five largest banks of an estimated $18 billion for California borrowers.

More details about the California Homeowner Bill of Rights are found on the attached fact sheet.  To learn more about how the bills impact California homeowners, review the slideshow at: www.oag.ca.gov.

AttachmentSize
File Fact Sheet.docx16.61 KB

Mortgage Fraud Grand Jury Bill Passes out of Assembly Public Safety Committee

June 19, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed an important piece of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights that aims to protect California homeowners from fraud and scams.

Senate Bill 1474 (Senator Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley) would allow Attorney General Harris to convene a special grand jury to investigate and indict the perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in more than one county, as well as crimes conducted by a single defendant or multiple defendants who worked together. The bill passed unanimously with bipartisan support.

Under current law, fraud in which the victims are located across the state require separate grand juries and charges must be filed in every county where the defendant committed a crime. This legislation would provide for the option of a special grand jury that can produce indictments for financial crimes beyond the scope of single-county grand juries.

“Scammers continue to prey on vulnerable Californians who simply want to stay in their homes,” Attorney General Harris said. “This legislation will create a more cohesive legal process to prosecute those who prey on Californians across county lines.”

“The Attorney General is currently engaged in the investigation of significant crimes,” Senator Hancock said. “Unfortunately, county-by-county grand juries do not work well in dealing with large-scale wrongdoing in multiple jurisdictions. With this bill, the Attorney General can investigate multijurisdictional crimes – it will provide protection when Californians need it the most.”

The Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, established by Attorney General Harris, investigates and prosecutes crimes related to mortgages, foreclosures and real estate. In recent weeks, the Strike Force has secured the conviction of perpetrators of scams in the Fresno and Sacramento areas.

SB 1474 will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

For more information on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, go to www.oag.ca.gov.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces the Passage of Human Trafficking Legislation

June 19, 2012
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the passage out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee of a bill to ensure that those convicted of human trafficking crimes involving minors will not be able to keep the financial benefits reaped from those crimes.

“Human trafficking crimes involving minors are reprehensible and convicted perpetrators should not be able to keep the financial rewards from trafficking,” said Attorney General Harris. “This bill will aid groups who are dedicated to helping victims.”

Senate Bill 1133, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), will force perpetrators of human trafficking crimes to forfeit any profits made from committing those crimes. The bill expands on the current list of assets that are currently subject to forfeiture. These resources will be used to aid the victims of human trafficking by providing resources for treatment and services. SB 1133 passed unanimously and will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“Sex trafficking of minors is a horrendous crime that is driven by the prospect of lucrative profits,” said Senator Leno. “This legislation aims to deprive convicted criminals of the financial resources and assets that would allow them to continue luring young people into the sex trade. In turn, proceeds from those forfeitures would rightfully be used to help victims begin to repair their lives.”

 “We have girls who come in literally wearing just the clothes on their back and the shoes on their feet,” said Alexandra Snyder, Policy Director of Courage House, who spoke in support of the legislation.

Attorney General Harris is also sponsoring Assembly Bill 2466 (Preservation of Assets for Victims of Human Trafficking), by Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley), which will require that more victims of human trafficking receive restitution. AB 2466 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety on June 26.

Attorney General Harris has made the fight against human trafficking a priority throughout her career. This week she announced an innovative program with Yahoo! and Polaris Project to combat human trafficking, which, in the past five years, has largely migrated to the Internet. Through this joint effort, if key search words like “human trafficking” are entered into Yahoo! Search, Internet users will see a banner that states: “Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 to report sex trafficking, forced labor, or to get help.”

For more information, go to the Attorney General’s human trafficking web site at www.oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking.