The original Statement of Charges from 2007 focuses on violations of the state’s Mortgage Broker Practices Act such as failing to pay appraisers over and over and over again, failing to maintain a mortgage broker license, failing to attend the required continuing ed classes, failing to maintain an surety bond, failing to adequately disclose fees to consumers, and so forth.
From the Seattle Times
Merit did put loan officers through a 19-step program. “Loan Officer 101” was 15 minutes long…Saulness wasn’t impressed. She sat next to two 18-year-old loan officers. “They didn’t even know how to read a credit report,” she said. Barry said wryly that many “had no idea what product they were selling, but they knew how much money they could make.” Merit employees proudly posted their résumés, plus photos of their luxury cars and drinking parties, on various Web sites. One loan officer had come to work fresh from being a Hooters Girl. Another solicited clients for two endeavors: writing mortgages for Merit and selling marijuana paraphernalia on the side. Indeed, several Merit loan officers boasted online that doing drugs was a favorite pastime. “Let’s get hopped up and make some bad decisions,” wrote one beside a photo of himself grinning broadly. Numerous former employees, including loan officer Sunny Hoppe, described working at Merit as a raucous — sometimes lewd — frat party. It was “young, hip, drugs and drinking,” Hoppe said, and that was at work. Former employees also said Merit regularly provided a keg of beer for some staff meetings, but Greenlaw said that, no, it was actually two kegs, and employees were free to bring in six-packs on Fridays. Asked about rumors of drug use in the office, Greenlaw said, “We just never checked.”
Washington State DFI and Merit/Greenlaw decided to settle the case and move on. The Consent Order filed Dec 2008 says our state DFI will collect only $1500 in fines. Merit is banned from the industry for five years. Greenlaw is banned from applying for a mortgage broker/designated broker license for five years yet he is not prohibited from applying to become a loan originator. Let’s take a look at some of the financial carnage from 2006-07:
Thousands of dollars owed to appraisers for work performed.
Thousands of dollars owed in back wages to Merit employees
Unpaid business and occupation taxes owed to the state of $351,294.
Wells Fargo was owed $244,033.
Firstam Credco was owed $228,249.
I wonder how he’s been paying for beer and pizza these days. Let’s find out.