Borrowers Betrayed

Miami Herald's 'Borrowers Betrayed' series is honored

The Miami Herald's Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman and Rob Barry won one of the nation's most prestigious journalism awards for their stories last year revealing the state's failure to police Florida's troubled mortgage industry.

The reporters received the Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award for investigative reporting for their series, Borrowers Betrayed, showing that state regulators allowed thousands of people with criminal histories -- including armed robbers and cocaine traffickers -- to work in the mortgage industry since 2000. The newspaper found that those felons went on to steal more than $85 million from borrowers and lenders. The series was edited by Investigations Editor Michael Sallah. The Miami Herald team will accept the foundation's Ursula and Gilbert Farfel prize next month during a dinner in Washington, D.C. The award comes with a $25,000 prize.

Also recognized as finalists were Tom Lasseter of the McClatchy Washington bureau for his stories, Guantanamo: Beyond the Law, and Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest of the Washington Post for their series, Careless Detention: the Medical Treatment of Immigrants.

The Herald series showed that regulators failed to alert police agencies to crooked mortgage brokerages, ignored citizen complaints and dropped investigations into shoddy operations while the state was struggling with the highest rate of mortgage fraud in the country.

The stories prompted the resignation of Florida's top financial industry regulator and tougher laws in screening and licensing people who sell mortgages.