By Becky Schlikerman and Mary Ellen Podmolik, Tribune reporters
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is again halting foreclosure evictions, two years after he received national attention for a similar plan.
Dart, who is mulling a run for Chicago mayor, said he won’t carry out evictions by three banks that have admitted questionable foreclosure practices until they can provide proof that their evictions are legal.
Dart said he plans to halt hundreds of evictions starting Monday unless the lenders — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC unit — can provide sworn statements that “everything was done properly.”
At a news conference, Dart insisted his plan isn’t political grandstanding, though he remained coy about whether he will run for mayor. He is also up for re-election as sheriff in the Nov. 2 election.
Dart halted evictions by his deputies in 2008 after finding that many renters being evicted hadn’t received any notice from banks that the building they lived in was being foreclosed. The evictions resumed after court officials put procedures in place to protect renters.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office declined to comment on Dart’s latest plan, saying it would be improper to do so because the issue might come before the Circuit Court.
Dart’s latest concerns stem from admissions by employees at some of the nation’s leading lenders that they had signed off on foreclosures without even reading pertinent documents — they’d simply “robo-signed documents,” the sheriff said.
Bank of America and Ally/GMAC said they are moving forward with evictions and foreclosures. Chase has not announced when it would resume its foreclosure process. Ally/GMAC spokesman James Olecki reiterated that the lender has not found any “inappropriate foreclosures.”
“We are happy to respond to any questions from the sheriff related to this matter,” Olecki said.
Tribune reporter John Chase contributed to this report.