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Foreclosure Help

Florida AG investigates two companies delivering foreclosure court papers

BY DIANE C. LADE

Sun Sentinel 12-16-10

Two companies that deliver foreclosure notices to homeowners are under investigation over complaints including filing questionable statements with courts, back-dating documents and billing practices.

The Florida attorney general is investigating two companies that deliver foreclosure notices to homeowners, one which is based in Miami, on allegations of slipshod business practices. State regulators this month began examining Gissen & Zawyer Process Service, of Miami, because of ``numerous complaints.'' Among them: filing questionable statements with the court, back-dating documents and billing practices.

The attorney general also has begun investigating ProVest of Tampa, one of the largest process servicing outfits in the nation, because of similar complaints.

Process servicers personally hand court summonses to defendants, notifying them that legal actions have been filed against them. In foreclosure cases, the paperwork tells the recipients they must respond in 20 days or the action will proceed.

Alan Rosenthal, the Miami attorney representing Gissen & Zawyer, said the company ``conducts business with the highest ethical standards'' and is cooperating with the state. ``It does not file false documents or forge signatures,'' Rosenthal said.

ProVest spokesman Mark Hubbard said his company also is cooperating in what he understood was a broad look by the state at the process serving sector. ``ProVest is confident the vast majority of notifications are being conducted appropriately and when there are anomalies of inadequate service, we strive to learn from those situations,'' he said.

The state's attorneys have been asking questions about process serving in the ongoing investigations of four large ``foreclosure mill'' law firms. Complaints filed with the attorney general said one of them, the law offices of David J. Stern in Plantation, used Gissen & Zawyer and ProVest. ProVest hires independent contractors to serve papers. Rosenthal said Gissen & Zawyer has a mix of employees and contractors.

Brent Del Gaizo, a Plantation defense attorney who lodged a complaint with the attorney general, claimed sloppy service by ProVest in two foreclosure cases. In one, he said court documents filed by the server showed his clients were given the summons, even though they were in Colorado and their house sitter had said no one delivered papers. A Broward judge threw out the subpoenas after Del Gaizo pointed out the discrepancy.

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