South Florida Lawyer Files Mortgage Fraud Lawsuit Against TotalBank and Banco Popular

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Attorney John Herrera Claims Executives Falsified Loan Application Documents and Refused to Release Property Used as Collateral

Attorney John Herrera

I believe my lawsuit raises many questions that should alarm borrowers as well as taxpayers since it involves the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lending program,” said Herrera.

Prominent South Florida lawyer John Herrera recently filed a civil lawsuit charging mortgage fraud against TotalBank, Banco Popular Español, and several bank executives in Miami-Dade Circuit Court (Case #2011-13491-CA-01). The complaint alleged that loan officers falsified several key documents in Herrera’s commercial mortgage loan application. In addition, the lawsuit claimed the bank refused to release additional property used as collateral in the deal.

“I believe my lawsuit raises many questions that should alarm borrowers as well as taxpayers since it involves the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lending program,” said Herrera. “The main reason why I have dedicated so much time and effort to this case is because the collateral property in dispute belongs to my mother, a 79-year-old cancer survivor who has worked her entire life to provide for herself in her last years.”

In 2007 Herrera met with Renato Salazar, a TotalBank loan officer who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, to discuss Herrera's desire to purchase a $1.8 million office building for his Coral Gables, Fla. legal practice. The lawsuit claimed Salazar suggested that Herrera should apply for a loan through the SBA and use real estate owned by his mother as collateral.

“As you can see from details of the lawsuit, my mother and I were required to provide personal guarantees,” Herrera said. “During the application process, we negotiated terms and conditions for the financing as well as the terms for the release of my mother's property that the bank allegedly insisted on in order to make the loan happen.”

Herrera and his attorneys closed the $1.6 million loan with TotalBank, a member of Grupo Banco Popular Español, later that year. Herrera claimed in the lawsuit that he met the conditions for release of his mother's property by making payments consistently on time.

“I was shocked to learn the bank would not release my mother's property,” Herrera said. “I filed a complaint for Declaratory Relief in the 11th Judicial Circuit. Through discovery and sworn depositions, I believe I uncovered something other than a difference of opinion as to who interpreted their rights correctly under the contract.”

The lawsuit contained what Herrera claimed were doctored documents and internal bank emails allegedly acknowledging that his file had been removed and could not be found.

"The FDIC was allegedly looking for my file,” Herrera said. “I was ultimately able to obtain a copy of my application package from the SBA through their servicer, the Florida Business Development Corporation. Based on what I found in the application, I filed a lawsuit charging that the bank was allegedly involved in fraudulent practices.”

Among the documents Herrera questioned in his lawsuit is a personal financial statement that appears to have his signature and that of his wife.

“The lawsuit stated that I hired a forensic document expert who determined the signatures were forgeries,” he said. “Also, my personal financial statement was allegedly inflated by $190,000.00."

The lawsuit also named Salazar's managers, Benigno Pazos and Ramon Rodriguez, as defendants. The legal action sought a jury trial and the release of the collateral property,

John Herrera, P.A. is a Coral Gables-based law firm focused on personal injury; civil and commercial litigation; real estate; divorce; family; and immigration law. For more information, visit:

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Charles Jones
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