Santa Ana-based Stearns Lending Inc. is being sued over claims a former real estate loan agent sent clients to a refinancing specialist who defrauded them out of thousands of dollars in fees. The refinancing specialist is also the subject of an ongoing fraud investigation by the state Attorney General and, oh yeah, he's married to the former real estate loan agent.
Robert J. Gilles of Tiburon filed the lawsuit in Marin County Superior Court because Heidi Marks was the loan officer who worked in Stearns' Rohnert Park office, which is where Gilles went to refinance his mother's Novato house.
Gilles claims he had no idea the refinancing specialist Marks sent him to, Miguel Lopez of Mortgage Modifiers in Petaluma, was Marks' husband.
The plaintiff claims the couple were engaged in criminal fraud and that Stearns is liable for his losses, which include about $2,000 in fees to Lopez and $6,750 in bank penalties and other costs.
Stearns counters that Gilles was never a customer of the firm, which denies any affiliation with Mortgage Modifiers. Marks no longer works for Stearns.
The state Department of Real Estate revoked Mortgage Modifiers' real estate license in October, but the doors of the company remain open and customer complaints continue to pour in to police, according to a Northern California television station.
Lopez's attorney confirmed for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that his client is under state investigation but that no charges have been filed to date.