The announcement that Meghan Shaw, Jennifer Lowe and Joseph Noel each face one charge of notarizing a signature of a person not in their presence came a week after Tracy Lawrence, the first notary identified as a key witness in the so-called “robo-signing” case, was found dead at home after missing sentencing on a similar charge.
The charge is a gross misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Court records filed Wednesday refer to Lowe as Jennifer Bloecker.
Each of the three, like Lawrence, testified before a grand jury that handed up a more-than-600-count indictment accusing Geraldine Ann Sheppard, 62, of Santa Ana, Calif., and Gary Randall Trafford, 49, of Irvine, Calif., of heading a scheme that led to the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent foreclosure documents in Las Vegas between 2005 and 2008.
Sheppard and Trafford are employees of a publicly traded company, Lender Processing Services Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., that provides technology and services to major banks across the company. Noel formerly worked for the company.
The indictment alleges that Sheppard and Trafford directed employees to notarize forged signatures on documents filed with the Clark County recorder’s office to begin home foreclosures.
Nevada has been the state hit hardest by the recession and the housing crisis, leading the nation in bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment.
Lender Processing Services officials declined to comment Monday about Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s announcement that more notaries were cooperating with the prosecution.
President and CEO Hugh Harris issued a statement last month acknowledged flaws in signing procedures on some documents, but the company said it also believed documents were properly authorized and their recording didn’t result in a wrongful foreclosure.
Trafford and Sheppard have not been arrested or appeared in a Nevada court to answer more than 200 felony charges of offering a false instrument and false certification of an instrument, and more than 100 misdemeanor notarization charges in the 439-page indictment handed up against them Nov. 16. They could face decades in prison if convicted.
Attorney Kenneth Julian of Costa Mesa, Calif., representing Sheppard, did not immediately respond to a message Monday. He said last week that he was negotiating a court date and bail terms with Masto’s office, and that no lawyer had been hired for Trafford.
Court records show Shaw, Bloecker and Noel are due for arraignment Dec. 28 in Las Vegas Justice Court.
Attorney Curtis Cannon, representing Noel, confirmed his client was cooperating in the investigation but declined to talk about the case.
A lawyer for Shaw didn’t immediately respond to a message, and it was not immediately clear if Bloecker had a lawyer.
Las Vegas police have said there were no obvious signs of foul play in Lawrence’s death, and that it wasn’t being investigated as a homicide. It could take another month for the Clark County coroner to obtain blood toxicology test results and rule on her cause and manner of death.