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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Joins Central Valley Law Enforcement Leaders in Support of California Homeowner Bill of Rights

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

FRESNO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today was joined by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin, Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman, and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer at a press conference in support of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which contains law enforcement tools to help prevent blight and other crimes associated with the foreclosure crisis.
Attorney General Harris also presented Attorney General Awards to distinguished officers from the Visalia Police Department, Fresno Police Department, the California Highway Patrol (Madera area), Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The press conference occurred after at a regional “zone” meeting, where law enforcement leaders discussed common challenges and collaboration. Zone 5 includes law enforcement agencies from Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare counties.

“As I meet with law enforcement leaders around the state, I repeatedly hear of their frustrations dealing with the aftermath of our foreclosure crisis and crime that is associated with it,” said Attorney General Harris. “I am gratified by the support of these Central Valley law enforcement leaders for the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, and look forward to the public safety enhancements it will bring.”

“Attorney General Harris’ proposed legislation provides increased enforcement capabilities, due process for homeowners, and gives local law enforcement additional tools to avoid blight as a result of empty homes left vacant as a result of foreclosures. I am pleased to be able to join her and support the California Homeowner Bill of Rights,” said Sheriff Margaret Mims of Fresno County.

“All Californian’s should be appreciative of these bills the Attorney General is trying to pass as they will help prevent foreclosure abuses, especially here in Merced where we ranked among some of the nation’s highest foreclosed homes,” Merced Sheriff Mark N. Pazin said.

“As the Sheriff of Tulare County, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of the mortgage crisis, not only in Tulare County but across the State of California. In Tulare County alone, between 2008 and 2011 there were over 11,000 foreclosures. The California Homeowner Bill of Rights will assist homeowners and law enforcement agencies by providing additional resources and tools to identify and fight a multitude of crimes related to mortgage fraud, real estate fraud, and loan scams. I fully support the California Homeowner Bill of Rights,” Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman said.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which would bring transparency and fairness to California’s broken mortgage process, is under consideration in the Legislature and includes proposals to help law enforcement respond to mortgage fraud and to crime associated with the foreclosure crisis.

These bills would empower communities to crack down on blight and the resulting crime, would support law enforcement responses to mortgage fraud by extending the statute of limitations, and would empower the Attorney General to empanel a special grand jury to target multi-jurisdictional financial crimes.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights will also extend to all borrowers many of the same reforms negotiated for in the recent national mortgage settlement. The legislation includes protections against the dysfunctional “dual-track” foreclosures process, guarantees of a single point of contact for distressed homeowners, and an increase in penalties for robo-signing. The multistate mortgage settlement brought a commitment of up to $18 billion for California homeowners and foreclosure victims from banks.

Foreclosure-related estimates for each county in the zone are:

Fresno County:
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 27,837
Estimated amount of California commitment: $311,015,043

Kern County:
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 35,893
Estimated amount of California commitment: $374,504,344

Kings County
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 2,139
Estimated amount of California commitment: $24,288,347

Madera County
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 7,005
Estimated amount of California commitment: $84,307,143

Mariposa County
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 238
Estimated amount of California commitment: $6,761,727

Merced County
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 18,229
Estimated amount of California commitment: $215,723,069

Tulare County
Number of foreclosures 2008-2011: 11,269
Estimated amount of California commitment: $119,124,870

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