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STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS
AG Case No.: Ll0-3-1197
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ASSURANCE OF VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE
PURSUANT to the provisions of Chapter 501, Part II, Florida Statutes, the Florida
Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, the STATE OF FLORIDA, DEPARTMENT OF
LEGAL AFFAIRS, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, hereinafter referred to as the
"DEPARTMENT," caused an investigation to be made into the business practices ofPROVEST
LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, and its affiliates, hereinafter referred to as
PROVEST is prepared to enter into this Assurance ofVoluntary Compliance (hereinafter
referred to as the "Assurance"), without an admission that PROVEST violated the law and solely
for the purposes of resolving Investigation No. Ll0-3-1197. The DEPARTMENT, by and
through the undersigned Assistant Attorney General, and the undersigned Associate Deputy
Attorney General, being in agreement, does accept this Assurance in termination of its
investigation in the above referenced matter, pursuant to Section 501.207(6), Florida Statutes,
and by virtue of the authority vested in the DEPARTMENT. The DEPARTMENT and
PROVEST hereby agree and stipulate to the following:
I. STIPULATED ALLEGATIONS AND FACTS
1.1 PRO VEST LLC, is a Delaware formed Limited Liability Company, duly filed and
registered to conduct business in the state of Florida with a principal place of business at 4520
Seedling Circle, Tampa, Florida 33614.
1.2 PROVEST engages primarily in the management of the service of process on
defendants in civil actions filed in the courts of the state of Florida and nationally. Specifically,
PRO VEST has managed service of process, and related services, in civil foreclosure actions on
consumer/mortgagors alleged to have defaulted on mortgage loans, and other named individuals
in such mortgage foreclosure actions.
1.3 The DEPARTMENT investigated allegations that PROVEST filed with Florida
courts non-original summonses false returns of service, improperly executed affidavits,
improperly notarized affidavits, incomplete affidavits of diligent search and inquiry, and
employed unlicensed investigators and process servers.
1.4 This Assurance is being entered into by PROVEST for the sole purpose of
compromising disputed claims without the necessity of protracted and expensive litigation, and
this Assurance does not, in any regard or respect, constitute an admission by PROVEST of
violations of any law or regulation.
1.5 This Assurance is being entered into by the DEPARTMENT to protect
consumer/mortgagors by requiring that best practices be identified, implemented, and utilized in
the service of process, and related services, upon consumer/mortgagors in civil foreclosure
actions filed in the courts ofthe state of Florida.
1.6 The DEPARTMENT and PROVEST desire to resolve all issues raised during the
course of this investigation.
II. GENERAL PROVISIONS
2.1. Agreement. The DEPARTMENT and PROVEST are represented by counsel and
have agreed on a basis for settlement of the matters alleged in this Assurance. The parties agree
to entry of this Assurance without the need for further investigation, trial, discovery in any such
action or adjudication of any issue of law or fact, and waive entry of findings of fact and
conclusions of law and any hearing upon acceptance of this Assurance. PRO VEST has entered
into this Assurance freely and without coercion and without admitting any violation of the law.
PROVEST further acknowledges that it has read the provisions of this Assurance and is able to
abide by them. PROVEST further acknowledges that a violation of this Assurance may result in
relief pursuant to Chapter 501, Part II, Florida Statutes, and other relief as appropriate.
2.2. Preservation of Private Claims and Other Law Enforcement Action. Nothing in
this Assurance shall be construed as a waiver or release of any private rights, causes of action, or
remedies of any person against PRO VEST with respect to the acts and practices covered by this
Assurance. Nothing herein shall be construed to limit or bar any other governmental entity, or
any unit of the DEPARTMENT, from pursuing any law enforcement action with respect to the
acts or practices of PRO VEST not covered by this Assurance or any acts or practices of
PROVEST conducted after the acceptance of this Assurance.
2.3. Compliance with Law. Nothing herein relieves PROVEST, its affiliates,
subsidiaries, or their principals, officers, directors, employees, agents, and representatives of
their duty to comply with applicable laws of the State and all federal or local laws, regulations,
ordinances, and codes, nor constitutes authorization by the Attorney General for the Defendant to
engage in acts and practices prohibited by such laws.
2.4. Non-Approval of Conduct. Nothing herein constitutes approval by the
DEPARTMENT ofPROVEST's past or future practices. PROVEST shall not make any
representation to the contrary regarding this Assurance or the name of the Office of the Attorney
General, State ofFlorida, Department of Legal Affairs, or any of their current or former
employees or representatives in connection with any advertisement, promotion, or sale of
products or services, or as an endorsement or approval ofPROVEST's acts, practices or conduct
2.5. Publication of Terms. For three (3) years after execution of this Assurance,
PROVEST will make the substantive provisions of this Assurance known to any persons
engaged in PROVEST's business including, but not limited to, officers, directors, owners,
managers, partners, employees, agents, independent contractors, successors and assigns of
PROVEST's business. The obligation imposed by this paragraph is continuing in nature and
shall apply to new officers, employees, agents, representatives or any other persons who become
engaged in PROVEST's business activities, including any future business activities in which
PROVEST engages. PROVEST's compliance with section 3.2 below related to training of
employees and compliance presentations to independent contractor process servers will satisfy
this term for employees and independent contractor process servers.
2.6. No Change in Business Organization. PROVEST shall not affect any change in
the form of doing business, or the organizational identity of any of the existing business entities,
or create any new business entities, as a method of avoiding the terms and conditions set forth in
2.7. Use of Settlement as Defense. Nothing herein shall be interpreted to prevent the
DEPARTMENT from taking enforcement action to address conduct ofthe PROVEST occurring
outside the scope of practices investigated in this matter, as described in Section 1.3 herein or
occurring after the entry of this Assurance that the DEPARTMENT believes to be in violation of
the law. The fact that such conduct was not expressly prohibited by the terms of this Assurance
shall not be a defense to any such enforcement action.
2.8 Headings. The heading of paragraphs and sections of this Assurance are for
reference only and do not limit, expand, or otherwise affect the contents ofthis Assurance.
3.1. Prohibited Acts. PROVEST and its officers, directors, shareholders, managing
members, members, employees, independent contractors, representatives, agents, successors,
assigns, and any persons acting under the actual direction or control of any of the foregoing and
those persons and entities in active concert or participation with them, or any other person or
entity who, directly or indirectly, acts under or who will act under, by, through, or on behalf of
PRO VEST, shall cease from directly or indirectly engaging in the following practices:
A. Marketing. Making or assisting others in making false or misleading oral or
written statements or representations in connection with the marketing, advertising, promoting,
offering for sale, selling, or providing of any products or services in any trade or commerce,
specifically including, but not limited to, the following representations relating to PROVEST's
1. Representing that PROVEST can ensure legally defendable service of
n. Representing that PROVEST offers or markets loss mitigation solutions to
B. Summonses, Returns of Service, Returns ofNon-Service, and Affidavits of
Diligent Search and Inquiry.
i. Making, or filing, or otherwise assisting others in the making or filing, any
summons for purposes of effecting or proving service of process when such summons is
not issued by a court;
ii. Making, or filing, or otherwise assisting others in the making or filing, any
return of service for purposes of proving service of process when that person knows that
service of process has not been effected;
111. Signing, or assisting others in signing, any return of service, return of non-
service, or affidavit, for any reason, including at the request of, with the consent of, or on
behalf of, a process server, unless the signor actually served process;
iv. Notarizing, or assisting others in notarizing, a signature on any document,
outside the presence of the individual executing the document to be notarized;
v. Making, or filing, or otherwise assisting others in the making or filing, any
affidavit containing any fact known to be untrue;
vi. Filing, or assisting others in filing, an Affidavit of Diligent Search and
Inquiry, without providing information to the court all methods, activities and actions
used to attempt to locate and serve the defendants; and
vii. Employing, or contracting, or assisting others in employing or contracting,
unlicensed private investigators to execute Florida Affidavits of Diligent Search and
Inquiry, or process servers without the requisite authority or licensure to serve process in
the applicable Florida jurisdictions.
3.2. Required Acts. PROVEST and its officers, directors, managing members,
members, employees, independent contractors, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, and
any persons acting under the actual direction or control of any of the foregoing and those persons
and entities in active concert or participation with them, or any other person or entity who,
directly or indirectly, acts under or who will act under, by, through, or on behalf ofPROVEST
are required to adopt the following practices:
A. Marketing. PROVEST shall modify its website to remove the following:
1. Representations that PROVEST can ensure legally defendable service of
11. Representations that PROVEST provides loss mitigation solutions to
B. Policy Statements. Within sixty (60) days of the acceptance ofthis Assurance,
PRO VEST shall adopt and publish for access by all employees, written policy statements
addressing notary services, document integrity, and a process server code of conduct designed to
promote integrity of all service of process paperwork being processed and filed in the Florida
courts by PROVEST or being filed at PROVEST's direction. At all times PROVEST shall
maintain an independent confidential anonymous third party reporting mechanism for all
employees to report violations oflaw and PROVEST's policies.
C. Annual Information Sessions to Independent Contractor Process Servers.
sixty (60) days of the acceptance of this Assurance, PROVEST shall adopt and publish by
posting on its external website, a written process server code of conduct for access by all
independent contractor process servers designed to promote the integrity of all service of process
paperwork being processed and filed in the Florida courts by PRO VEST or being filed at
PROVEST's direction. PROVEST shall require annual review and acknowledgment by all
independent contractor process servers in Florida of its process server code of ethics. PRO VEST
shall provide information sessions in Florida no less than annually that are sufficient in duration
and content to inform independent contractor process servers ofPROVEST's process server code
of conduct. This information may also include, but is not limited to:
i. Licensing requirements to become a certified process server, special
process server or other duly authorized process server in Florida;
n. Unauthorized service of process;
111. Consequences for unauthorized service of process;
iv. Requirements of chapters 48, 49, and 702, Florida Statutes, for effective
service of process;
v. Consequences for defective service;
VI. Prohibited acts in service of process;
vn. Forgery and it consequences under chapter 831, Florida Statutes;
vm. Pe:rjury and its consequences under chapter 837, Florida Statutes;
IX. Simulated legal process and its consequences under chapter 843, Florida
x. Fraud upon the Court and its consequences.
D. Information Sessions to Employees. PROVEST shall require mandatory training
on its notary services, document integrity and code of conduct policies no less than annually and
at the time of hire for new employees. PROVEST shall provide information sessions to its
Employees in Florida no less than annually that are sufficient in duration and content to inform
Employees ofPROVEST's notary services, document integrity, and process server code of
conduct. This information may also include, but is not limited to:
No information required to be provided by PROVEST to any independent contractor pursuant to this Assurance is
intended to modify the employment status ofPROVEST's independent contractors under Subtitle C of Title 26
U.S.C. section 3101 et seq. The Parties intent, in entering into this Assurance is to maintain the 1099 employment
status of PRO VEST's independent contractors as independent contractors, and provide for the dissemination of
information regarding PRO VEST's Policy Statement, applicable Florida Statutes, and rules of court without
changing or affecting the I 099 employment status of any independent contractor.
1. Forgery and it consequences under chapter 831, Florida Statutes;
n. Perjury and its consequences under chapter 837, Florida Statutes;
111. Simulated legal process and its consequences under chapter 843, Florida
IV. Fraud upon the Court and its consequences-:-
E. Training and Information Sessions Attendance Sheets. PROVEST will maintain
attendance sheets of all employee training sessions and all information sessions for process
servers conducted pursuant to this Assurance, which will include the names, respective job titles,
and server licenses, as applicable, of the attendees, as well as the date, time, and location of the
training or information session.
F. Audits. PROVEST will conduct periodic audits, or other reasonable measures, no
less than once monthly, to timely detect any irregularities in the execution of Florida returns of
service, returns of non-service, affidavits, or in any service of process related paperwork
processed by PROVEST or by PROVEST's independently contracted service of process agents.
PRO VEST will note the details and circumstances of any detected irregularities in memorandum
in the form of an Exception Report. In addition to the measures identified above, PRO VEST
will take corrective measures to ensure the irregularities noted are not repeated.
G. Retaliation and Coercion. PROVEST will not retaliate against or coerce in any
way any person who has already spoken to or provided testimony to the DEPARTMENT, or who
may report through any means available and/or to any authority or person including the
DEPARTMENT any instance by any person of past or present misconduct related to
PRO VEST's business.
H. Affidavits of Diligent Search and Inquiry. PROVEST will use either the format
of Form 1.924, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, as adopted by the Florida Supreme Court, for
purposes of completing an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, or a substantially similar
format that provides and discloses to the court all methods, activities and actions used to attempt
to locate and serve defendants.
IV. MONETARY RELIEF
4.1. Upon the execution of this Assurance by PROVEST, PROVEST shall pay the
Attorney General's investigative and attorney's fees and costs of this matter and the costs
associated with on-going and future enforcement initiatives pursuant to Chapter 501, Part II,
Florida Statutes, in the amount of FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE
HUNDRED DOLLARS ($462,500.00) in accordance with the provisions of this paragraph.
PROVEST shall pay the amount of FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE
HUNDRED DOLLARS ($462,500.00) by cashier's check and made payable to the Department
of Legal Affairs Revolving Trust Fund on the execution of this Assurance and delivered to
Michael G. Moore or such other Assistant Attorney General so designated, at 3507 E. Frontage
Road, Suite 325, Tampa, Florida, 33607. Payments for attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to
paragraph 4.1 of this Section N shall be deposited into the Legal Affairs Revolving Trust Fund,
pursuant to§ 501.2101, Florida Statutes.
4.2. Upon the execution of this Assurance by PROVEST, PROVEST shall pay the
amount of FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS
($462,500.00) to The Florida Bar Foundation, Inc., a Florida non-profit corporation, Post Office
Box 1553, Orlando, FL 32802-1553, to continue the Florida Attorney General Mortgage
Foreclosure Grant Program, the funding of such program to be utilized to provide legal
assistance and representation to single family occupant homeowners in Florida who are in
foreclosure proceedings or are in danger of foreclosure in accordance with the provisions of this
paragraph. Payment shall be made by cashier's check in the amount of FOUR HUNDRED
SIXTY TWO THOUSAND FNE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($462,500.00) on the execution of
this Assurance and made payable to the The Florida Bar Foundation, Inc., and shall be delivered
to Michael G. Moore or such other Assistant Attorney General so designated, at 3507 E.
Frontage Road, Suite 325, Tampa, Florida, 33607.
4.3. Satisfaction ofthe monetary obligations in this Section N shall not relieve
PRO VEST of any other obligations under other provisions of this Assurance.
V. BUSINESS RECORDS AND COMPLIANCE REPORTING
5.1. PROVEST agrees to retain documents and other information reasonably sufficient
to establish compliance with the provisions herein, and shall provide reasonable access to such
documents and information to the DEPARTMENT within ten days of request.
5.2 PROVEST will provide to the DEPARTMENT the name of a person who will act
as liaison for the company, available to representatives of the DEPARTMENT to answer
questions and provide information establishing compliance with the terms of this Assurance.
5.3 PROVEST shall permit representatives of the DEPARTMENT to interview any
employer, consultant, independent contractor, representative, agent, or employee who has agreed
to such an interview, relating in any way to any conduct subject to this Assurance. The person
interviewed may have counsel present.
5.4 Beginning sixty (60) days after the entry of this Assurance and every six (6)
months thereafter and continuing for three (3) years from the date of entry of this Assurance,
PRO VEST shall provide a written report ("Compliance Report"), sworn to under oath, to the
DEPARTMENT setting forth in detail the manner and form in which PRO VEST has complied
and is complying with this Agreement. For purposes of this reporting, and for any other notices
to the DEPARTMENT, such reports and notices shall, unless otherwise directed by the
DEPARTMENT's authorized representatives, be mailed to:
Michael G. Moore, Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
3507 E. Frontage Road, Suite 325
Tampa, FL 33607
5.5 Refund or Reserve. Commencing with the date this Assurance is accepted,
PROVEST shall monitor and document each time that it, for any reason, either refunds a fee for
service or reserves defendant(s) at no additional cost, after PROVEST has received or been made
aware of a Motion to Quash Service of process or other challenge to service of process.
PRO VEST shall include the details of this monitoring in its Compliance Report and shall
indicate in its reporting the general reason for the refund or reserve at no additional cost.
Additionally, PRO VEST will continue its formalized monitoring of service of process challenges
for the duration of this Assurance.
5.6 PROVEST, in connection with this action or any concurrent or subsequent
investigations or litigation related to or associated with the transactions or the occurrences that
are the subject ofthis Assurance shall cooperate in good faith with the DEPARTMENT's
reasonable requests for documents and testimony. Upon written notice, PROVEST shall: (i)
appear at such places and times as the DEPARTMENT reasonably requests for interviews,
conferences, review of documents, and for such other matters, after written notice; and (ii)
produce such documents and information in a manner as may be reasonably requested by the
VI. ACCEPTANCE BY EXECUTION IS EFFECTIVE DATE OF ASSURANCE
6.1 The parties agree that the effective date ofthis Assurance shall be the date of its
execution and delivery by all the parties, including each of the parties reflected by the signature
lines below. Acceptance by execution by the DEPARTMENT can be established only by the
signature of the Associate Deputy Attorney General, who may refuse to accept it at her
discretion. The parties further agree that facsimile copies of signatures and notary seals may be
accepted as originals for the purposes of establishing the existence of this agreement. PROVEST
agrees that the receipt of or deposit pursuant to section 215.31, Florida Statutes, by the
DEPARTMENT of any monies tendered pursuant to the terms of this Assurance does not
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constitute final acceptance by the DEPARTMENT, and that monies received will be returned if
the Assurance is not accepted.
VII. NOTICE TO PARTIES
7.1 The parties agree that future notice to any of the parties to this Assurance may be
made by notice sent certified mail to the addresses set forth below unless either party notifies the
other by certified mail of another address to which notices should be provided.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, PROVEST LLC, has caused this Assurance of Voluntary
Compliance to be executed by James M. Ward, President ofPROVEST LLC, as a true act and
deed in Hillsborough County, Florida, this J/fk day of July, 2012.
By my signature below I hereby affirm that I am acting in my capacity and within my
authority as President ofPROVEST LLC, and that by my signature I am binding the limited
liability company to this Assurance.
FOR PROVEST LLC
PRESIDENT, PROVEST LLC
4520 Seedling Circle
Tampa, FL 33614
STATE OF FLORIDA )
COUNTY OF HILLSBOROUGH )
BEFORE ME, an officer duly authorized to take acknowledgements in the State of
Florida personally appeared James M. Ward, as President ofPROVEST LLC, and
acknowledged before me that he executed the foregoing Assurance of Voluntary
Compliance for the purposes stated therein, on this 11!:_ day of , 2012.
Sworn to and subscribed before me day of ..J vl1 , 2012 .
(Print, Type, or Stamp omm1sswned Name ofNotary Pubhc)
Personally Known / OR Produced Identification
Type ofldentification Produced __________ _
COUNSEL TO PROVEST LLC
MCGUIRE WOODS, LLP
One James Center
90 1 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4030
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...-..-. .-. -- ---
KAREN M. KELLY
i. . Notary Public • State of Florida
My Comm. Expires Dec 14, 2014
• Commission # EE 21985
FOR THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
PAMELA JO BONDI
AT ORNEY GENERAL
Florida Bar No. 934909
Office of the Attorney General
Department of Legal Affairs
3507 East Frontage Road, Suite 325
Tampa, Florida 33607
(813) 281-5515 (facsimile)
PATRICIA A. CONNERS
ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
Office of the Attorney General
Department ofLegal Affairs
PL-0 1, The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Accepted this /b f.y o f ~ 2012.
Accepted t h i s ~ day of 0 9 '2012.
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