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CT Fines Lenders

First Alternative, EPI settle with state

January 16, 2007

By MortgageDaily.com staff

Connecticut regulators fined one mortgage company for omitting a lawsuit with IndyMac Bank F.S.B from its lender license applications, while another was fined for closing loans with an unregistered originator, in unlicensed names or with fees in excess of the state's maximum.

First Alternative Mortgage Corp. recently agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty and EPI Mortgage Center Inc. agreed to pay $6,000 to settle with the Consumer Credit Division of the Department of Banking allegations of violations of Connecticut statutes related to mortgage lender, broker and originator activity.

The department said an investigation of First Alternative revealed that the company and its president, Peter J. Cohen, had entered into a settlement agreement and mutual release with IndyMac Bank F.S.B. in January 2005, regarding a first amended complaint that was pending in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The IndyMac, F.S.B. v. Withers & Company, Inc. complaint -- originally filed in October 2003 -- arose out of six loans First Alternative submitted to IndyMac for table funding on property in New York.

However, on dates after the complaint was filed, when First Alternative applied for first and secondary mortgage correspondent lender/broker licenses and a renewal on the first mortgage correspondent license, it allegedly replied "no" to questions asking whether the company, or any of its members, had ever been a defendant in any litigation filed in connection with the consumer credit business or with the granting or broker of mortgage loans, according to the department.

In the investigation of EPI, currently licensed as a first mortgage lender/broker, the department said it found that the company closed loans in two names other than that in which EPI was licensed.

EPI also allegedly imposed prepaid finance charges on two loans to Connecticut borrowers that "exceeded the aggregate five percent maximum amount that may be charged or imposed on the initial principal loan amount and refinancings, and on additional proceeds on refinancings by EPI Mortgage or an affiliate within two years from the date of the initial loan," the department reported.

Additionally, the department found that EPI Mortgage allegedly employed or retained at least one originator without registering them.

First Alternative and EPI Mortgage voluntarily entered into the settlement agreements without admitting or denying any of the allegations, the department noted.

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