O'Malley calls on mortgage firms to temporarily stop foreclosures

Gov. Martin O'Malley is calling on mortgage servicers to voluntarily halt foreclosures in Maryland until they're certain they're following state law and can ensure residents aren't being mistreated.

Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, said the governor also is investigating whether the state could force a temporarily freeze on foreclosure proceedings. He was responding to a request by Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, who wants to see a moratorium for at least 60 days to determine whether lenders are starting cases to take back homes without confirming that the required legal documents are in order.

Cummings, a Democrat from Baltimore, sent a letter over the weekend to O'Malley and Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler that referred to reports of some bank executives "signing affidavits and other legal documents in bulk without confirming the accuracy of the information."

Bank of America, the latest lender allegedly connected with the practice that has been dubbed "robo-signing," said Friday that it would delay foreclosures in 23 states. Maryland is not on the list.

"I urge that Maryland now also suspend foreclosure activity for at least two months so that we can ensure that all foreclosure proceedings in the state are based on accurate and complete filings," Cummings said in his letter.

Adamec said the governor supports a moratorium "if it is determined the legal option exists." He said O'Malley is concerned that officials with several national mortgage servicers have acknowledged in legal proceedings that they filed affidavits without adequate knowledge of the cases involved.

"While we explore the legal avenues available to the state, Governor O'Malley is calling on these and other services to suspend both new and ongoing foreclosure actions in Maryland until they review their practices in Maryland and can ensure that Marylanders are not being mistreated," he said in an e-mail.

jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

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