My name is Lisa Epstein. I am running for Clerk of Circuit Court in Palm Beach County's August 14, 2012 election. Our county's voters have spoken loud and clear; expose and rid our county of fraud. For years, I have worked tirelessly to investigate, expose, and blow the whistle on fraud by bailed out banks that crashed our economy, violated our property rights, and destroyed our tax base. The Clerk is the locally elected constitutional officer who serves as the “public trustee”, putting into motion the county level system of “checks and balances” between the people, the judiciary, and the executive and legislative branches of government. The Circuit Court is often known as " The People's Court", and I pledge to safeguard the integrity of the system on behalf of the people of Palm Beach County.
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Lisa Epstein 561-327-7036
The Bock Stops Here
Lisa Epstein Puts the Brakes on Fraud
West Palm Beach, FL - July 9, 2012 - The Palm Beach Post recently published an editorial regarding the dismissal of the Duval County (Florida) Clerk of the Court’s lawsuit against MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems). While the suit was found to be legally deficient by a judge, what caught our eye was the closing comment
“It’s up to state lawmakers to protect the interests of Floridians over the greed of bankers.”
While I agree in principle that the state should always hold the interests of the general public above all others, the reality of a legislative majority beholden to special interests in Tallahassee requires local and county level action whenever possible. Unfortunately for residents and homeowners of Palm Beach County, our own Clerk of the Courts, my opponent Sharon Bock, apparently shares the view of the Post by her words and by her actions of arbitrarily choosing what types of fraud should be investigated and what types of fraud should be ignored. In a new election profile article in the Western Communitie’s Town Crier, my opponent plainly tells us whom she answers to:
"....obviously as clerk of the circuit court, my main customers are the judges and the lawyers, so, having a legal background really allows me to fully understand their problems"
I applaud the effort of the Duval County official, as well as the ongoing efforts of hundreds of elected officials at the local and county level who recognize their role in protecting the citizens. My opponent is confusing the public with numerous contradictory statements and actions, raising questions regarding the role and responsibilities of the Palm Beach County Clerk of the Circuit Court and the constituency she is elected to represent.
For example, on May 13, 2011 The Palm Beach Post published an article by Kim Miller titled “Tip from Palm Beach Gardens woman spurs wide search for papers ‘Linda Green’ OK’d”. The article followed a national news segment aired by the CBS news television program 60 Minutes featuring a Palm Beach County homeowner who had discovered numerous discrepancies in documents filed in her own home foreclosure case and others in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
In the article, a spokesperson for my opponent is quoted as follows:
“The clerk does not have authority under the statute to question the validity of a signature on a document presented for recording” and that the issue highlighted in the article did not fall under “our purview to investigate or take action.”
That article pointed out that other elected county officials around the country were in fact attempting to root out such fraud in their role as responsible government officials.
On May 2, 2012, The Huffington Post ran an article describing the plans of several victims of foreclosure fraud to run for offices in upcoming 2012 elections. In that article, my opponent was quoted:
"What she (Lisa Epstein) and the Occupy people are saying is valid," said Bock. "I think there is a lot wrong with the banks. You'd be deaf, blind and dumb not to see the problem we have between the haves and the have-nots, what the Occupy people are calling the 99 percent ... The problem is the clerk's role is not the right role in which to advocate for these issues."
"The question becomes, do we all become advocates? If we do that, what then is the clerk? Am I a policymaker or am I a keeper of the people's records," she said. "By statutory authority, I am not a policymaker, [I'm] strictly administerial (sic). My role is solely to protect the integrity of the public's records and public's funds. To do that I must remain independent and neutral."
On June 4, 2012, a Sun Sentinel article regarding foreclosures in Palm Beach County described a meeting of residents with my opponent:
“Several residents assailed Bock, accusing her of not doing enough to prevent fraudulent bank documents from entering the court record. Defending herself, Bock said she must leave such “policing” to the judges.”http://www.sun-sentinel.com/...
Taken as a whole, those five news items show Palm Beach County voters that my opponent is not interested in protecting the property and rights of our citizens who have been subject to fraudulent bank practices that demand further investigation and action on the part of elected officials.
This is where we differ. Sharon Bock claims “it’s not my job.” Period. As Clerk of the Court, I will make it my business to ferret out fraud and corruption wherever its found and refer the findings to law enforcement. Even Florida’s Attorney General agrees, as noted in a recent Florida Attorney General letter to the Florida Association of Clerks and Comptrollers:
“In the event, however, that a clerk has a reasonable belief or suspicion that a crime has been committed in the execution or notarization of a document, the proper course of action would be to contact the State Attorney in the Circuit in which the document was filed and request that the filing be reviewed. Complaints relating to notaries may also be submitted to the Office of the Governor, Notary Section. Finally, Clerks might wish to consult with the Chief Judge of their Circuit to determine whether notice should be given to the Court in situations where the authenticity of a filing is questioned.”http://www.scribd.com/...
Press releases from my opponent in the past have highlighted the role of the Clerk’s office in detecting forgeries in non-foreclosure cases:
“Clerk Sharon Bock says the keen eye and diligent efforts of a deputy clerk working at the Clerk & Comptroller’s Belle Glade office halted the possible unauthorized release from jail of a suspected felon.http://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/...
On March 7, 2011, the Clerk received a fraudulent motion and court order containing instructions to drop burglary charges against 29-year-old Jean Lafalaise and release the suspect from custody. The clerk immediately noticed irregularities with the purported court documents and, upon investigating further, discovered that the documents were fake and the signatures on them had been forged.”
‘The Clerk’s duty is to protect the integrity of the public’s records,” said Clerk Bock. “But, this duty extends further to protecting the integrity of the judicial system. In this case, the system and the public were protected.’”
Another press release by my opponent highlighted the office’s role in spotting another, non-foreclosure related forgery:
“The Clerk’s Recording Department and IG identified as many as 31 quit claim deeds that had been transferred to K & R Investment Capital, a West Palm Beach company that listed Joaseus as the president. Those findings were turned over to law enforcement for the criminal investigation into whether the documents were falsified.
‘If a document appears to be filled out properly, Clerks are required by law to record all documents as they are presented to us, protecting the integrity of the original record,” said Clerk Bock. “But sometimes facts present themselves that trigger an investigation by our IG. And, that’s what happened in this case.’”
On January 17, 2012, my opponent posted a YouTube video of her appearance at a guardianship seminar. The presentation begins with the following statements from Clerk Bock:
“In 1848 the framers of the Florida Constitution created the Clerk (and Comptroller’s) office to be the watchdog of your tax dollars and of your public records of mortgages deeds and all of the court case files. As Clerk of the Court we are the gateway into the justice system and besides the processing of all of the paperwork and the files that we do we also have the constitutional role to not only protect the integrity of the information in those records but also it can extend to protecting the accuracy of those records.”…As the clerk, we have the statutory responsibility to account for the completeness and the accuracy of all of these reports in the court record and report any inaccuracies to the courts.”
Later in that video, a senior auditor for the Clerk of Courts explained that despite no new statutory direction from the State in the past 30 years, the Clerk’s office unilaterally decided to police the paperwork submissions in a laudable effort to monitor the guardianship filings in the Courthouse.
Let’s put all of this in perspective for a moment. Palm Beach County is widely recognized as Ground Zero during the ongoing housing crisis for foreclosure fraud. Sharon Bock is putting out press releases highlighting and taking credit for her office’s role in the policing of fraudulent documents in the areas of guardianship, quit claim and of course criminal court filings. On the one issue that has generated rampant known fraud, the allegations of robosigning of perhaps hundreds of thousands of filings, unprecedented loss of property values, rocket docket courts that silently evict under-represented citizens from their homes in Palm Beach County, investor fraud, securitization failures and an overall hit to the economic well being of the citizens who she is elected to represent, her answer is basically “not my job”.
Is Sharon Bock afraid to take on the bankers?
It is up to local officials to do what they can to protect our residents. It is time to bring in someone who is up for the whole job. Sometimes it takes a nurse. I’m Lisa Epstein and as your Clerk of the Courts, I promise to be the watchdog for all residents and not just a record keeper. You know my reputation. I’m not afraid to take on bankers, lawyers, insurance companies.
I will make it my job to look out for your interests.
Vote Lisa Epstein on August 14th for Clerk of the Circuit Court of Palm Beach County.
Note: For those of you who wish to learn more about my work on behalf of foreclosure fraud victims you can find some background on my website, www.lisaforclerk.com as well as in Anya Stiglitz's latest book, From Cairo to Wall Street.
Our previous press release is available here:
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Lisa Epstein, Democrat, for Palm Beach County Clerk of Circuit Court