LAS VEGAS -- The nationwide mortgage settlement will mean that $1.5 billion dollars is headed Nevada's way. But once that money is divided up, will it help underwater Nevadans stay in their homes?
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto was one of the last nationwide holdouts on the national mortgage settlement. According to people familiar with the inside negotiations, there was intense federal pressure to jump onboard and settle with the five major banks.
"This was not an easy decision to make," Cortez Masto said. Her goal was to get some kind of relief for homeowners. "If I could get them some relief in some fashion, no matter what it looked like, I couldn't ignore that."
Cortez Masto talked about how she would reply to Nevadans who were victimized and evicted due to improper foreclosures or robo-signing.
"I can look them in the eyes because of a couple of things. We're still pursuing lawsuits. We're still holding individuals accountable and we haven't stopped. I'm not here to say that the $2,000 will be a relief to them and they're going to walk away and say, that's great, because I've lost my home. I would never say that. I would say just the opposite."
"I think the federal government had a lot to do with it," said attorney Tisha Black who specializes in foreclosure fraud and was on the attorney general's team that handled Nevada's settlement.
"I think, honestly, that Obama wants it to be something he can ride into his new election on, that he can corral all the banks and solve all the problems which we've seen with the HAMP program and all the rest of the federal programs. They don't work," Black said.
Nevada is still discovering the true scope and level of crimes the foreclosure crisis created. Black says that for a low relative cost to the banks, they close the books on much of the crisis and get enormous benefits with the deal.
"They're giving themselves a tax credit for cash for keys which they should have been doing anyway. They're giving them a tax credit for writing down loans which they should be doing anyway. They're giving themselves a tax credit for refinancing, which they should be doing anyway. We are giving them tax benefits and tax breaks and exculpation from liability for business practices they should be conducting anyway."
8 News NOW was told Cortez Masto wouldn't join the settlement until she could get a separate deal against Countrywide, now Bank of America, for additional refinancing. That's because Nevada already claimed they broke a previous deal. The Attorney General says that, for the first time, she has more enforcement options to go after them if they break this deal.
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