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Atwater IG clears Bondi of meddling in foreclosure lawyers’ forced resignations

Friday, January 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

An inspector general late Friday cleared Attorney General Pam Bondi of wrongdoing in the forced resignations of former foreclosure lawyers Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson.

There was “no discovery of evidence of wrongdoing on the part of anyone involved in the matter,” an 85-page report written by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater‘s inspector general, asked by Bondi to look into accusations that her office mishandled the terminations, concluded.

“The report confirms the terminations had nothing to do with politics or outside influence. Rather, it was about doing the right thing, in defense of the people of Florida,” Bondi said in a press release.

The report drew criticism from two Democratic lawmakers who have asked for an independent investigation into the matter.

“From the outset, the investigation requested by Attorney General Pam Bondi raised troubling questions. There was little to no independence as she turned to a colleague, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to look into her own conduct and that of her office. Much like a close relative investigating as opposed to a distant cousin, the pronouncement by Mr. Atwater’s office of ‘guilt-free” is hardly reassuring – to me, or the thousands of Florida homeowners looking for protection from foreclosure fraud abuse,” Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said in a statement.

“Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson netted $2 million in foreclosure fraud damages for Floridians and were quickly fired thereafter. The termination of these attorneys is a violation of state policy by obstructing the prosecution of mortgage and foreclosure fraud. The inspector general’s report focuses, instead, on minutiae in order to avoid making a call on the big picture,” Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, said in press release.

Personnel problems in Bondi’s office deepen in wake of foreclosure fraud firings

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Andrew Spark, one of Attorney General Pam Bondi’s assistants in her Tampa office, abruptly resigned Thursday – a day after releasing a 16-page memo harshly criticizing his boss’s administration.

Spark, an assistant state attorney general in the Tampa office of economic crimes, said his memo was motivated by the forced resignations of former state foreclosure investigators June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards.

Spark’s concerns include former Economic Crimes Division Director Mary Leontakianakos taking a job in June with the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson – a firm that paid $2 million in March to settle a state investigation into its foreclosure practices. Leontakianakos resigned her director’s job in December with an effective date of Jan. 3.

Spark also mentions the resignation of former Deputy Attorney General Joe Jacquot, who went to work for Lender Processing Services – another company under investigation by the state – and concerns he has about his investigations of two companies that serve foreclosure summonses to home owners.

“The people of the State of Florida are entitled to fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests,” wrote Spark, who has worked for the attorney general for about seven years.

After Spark’s resignation, Bondi said he was the subject of an ongoing investigation for using the services of a business he was investigating.

“It is exceptionally troubling for the people of Florida that Spark’s memo disclosed information pertaining to active investigations into foreclosure-related businesses that could compromise those cases,” Bondi said.

Read The Palm Beach Post writer Kimberly Miller’s story here.

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