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Koster going to D.C. to discuss mortgage fraud

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 16, 2009 - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is among eight attorneys general from around the country who are heading to Washington D.C. for a meeting tomorrow with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Topic on tap: How best to "pursue businesses engaged in mortgage fraud."

Thursday’s meeting also is to include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Federal Trade Commission Jon Liebowitz.

Koster's office says that Geithner and Holder had invited the select group of attorneys general because of their earlier involvement in the issue. Besides Koster, the other attendees will be from Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

"The officials invited Koster for his role as part of a multi-state task force addressing the issue of mortgage fraud," his staff said.

"In July, Koster testified before the United States Senate on steps Missouri is taking to address foreclosure-relief and debt-settlement scams in Missouri, and what Congress could do to address the issue nationwide,'' his staff statement said.

"Koster recommended Congress pass a law similar to Missouri’s ban on up-front fees for these types of businesses. "Koster said the ban on up-front fees is one of the state’s most valuable tools for cracking down on businesses engaged in mortgage-relief fraud, and is important to consumers in recognizing when a business is not legitimate."

Since announcing in April his “zero tolerance” campaign against mortgage fraud, Koster says his office "has filed suit against seven businesses and has a number of other mortgage fraud investigations underway."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.