The Florida attorney general has charged Barnett Banks Inc. and its mortgage lending subsidiary with civil theft and deception in a suit alleging that the institution knowingly over-escrowed borrowers mortgage accounts.

The suit contains some of the harshest allegations against a lender since the rash of over-escrow class action suits began nearly four years ago, and the relief the AG is seeking is also severe--a whopping $10,000 per violation.

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