Continuing its rapid expansion in mortgage banking, Cardinal Financial (CFNL) in McLean, Va., announced Monday that its home lending subsidiary, George Mason Mortgage, has opened an office in the Baltimore suburbs.

The new Lutherville, Md., location is the lender's first office in the Baltimore area and third new office it has opened in Maryland in the past month. In April it opened a new office in Prince George's County outside of Washington, D.C., and expanded and relocated its loan office in Frederick.

Over the past year, the $2.6 billion-asset Cardinal has doubled its number of home loan offices, to 14, in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, as part of a corporate strategy to win market share from larger banks that are scaling back their mortgage lending. The company's fee income from mortgage banking rose more than 122% in the first quarter from the same period last year, to $6.9 million, due largely to its aggressive hiring of mortgage lenders.

The new Baltimore office will be run by Brad Gibbons, a lifetime Baltimore-area resident who has 29 years of mortgage lending experience.

Also on Monday, Cardinal said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the Justice Department will not pursue a lawsuit against the mortgage unit in which it had alleged that the lender had discriminated against certain borrowers.

The firm had been under investigation for close to a year for alleged violations to the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Cardinal has fought the claims, arguing that it has received "satisfactory" ratings on its Community Reinvestment Act examinations, according to a report in the Washington Business Journal.

Cardinal received a letter from the Justice Department Friday saying that the agency has opted not to file suit at this time.

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