ccfj.net: Foreclosure lawyer Mark Stopa made nearly $5 million off clients’ homes
Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
By Susan Taylor Martin
Published October 2, 2018
During the foreclosure crisis, thousands of Floridians turned to Mark Stopa for help in saving their homes.
The 41-year-old St. Petersburg lawyer became one of the state’s best-known foreclosure defense experts, quoted in national publications and portraying himself as a bulwark against heartless and conniving lenders.
But even as Stopa helped many people hold on to their homes, he acquired millions of dollars worth of property from other clients through what authorities say was a years-long pattern of fraud and deception. The alleged scheme to defraud clients and mortgage lenders has had a ripple effect throughout Florida, leaving thousands of foreclosure cases in limbo and Stopa’s former firm about to file for bankruptcy.
“It’s like the Titanic going down,” said Richard Mockler, a Tampa attorney who has tried unsuccessfully to salvage Stopa’s law practice.
On Aug. 21, agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement raided Stopa’s offices in downtown St. Petersburg. According to the search warrant, Stopa obtained title to distressed homes throughout Florida using shell corporations, many of them registered in New Mexico. The properties were then rented out while Stopa, under the guise of representing the original owners, continued to fight the foreclosure cases.
Agents subpoenaed Stopa’s PayPal account and discovered deposits from individuals at approximately 20 properties controlled by his companies.
Between Jan. 1, 2011 and April 1, 2018 records showed, Stopa received a total of more than $4.8 million. Read more: