State closer to clamping down on mortgage fraud
June 19, 2012
• Assembly Public Safety Committee OKs special grand juries
• ‘Will provide protection when Californians need it the most’
The California Assembly Public Safety Committee has passed a major piece of the California “Homeowner Bill of Rights” with its approval of a bill giving the attorney general more power to prosecute mortgage fraud and scams.
Senate Bill 1474, authored by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, would allow the California Attorney General 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 scattered across the state requires 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,” says Attorney General Kamala Harris. “This legislation will create a more cohesive legal process to prosecute those who prey on Californians across county lines.”
Ms. Hancock says 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,” she says.
SB 1474 will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.