Not Advice, But Fact

legal15

Too, whenever you file a case, you need to do everything, as if you plan to appeal. Every case goes to appeal, unless it is so shitty a case that it don’t warrant an appeal. Everything you do in your case should prepare for an easy appeal, you have to be diligent, as if you are the one being sued, and you have to do plenty of discovery if you want anything from the opposing party, and the most important thing, is you have to follow the Rules of Civil Procedure, Uniform Superior Court Rules, the Court’s Rules and all Orders.
If any of the above things have not been followed to a “t” then you have made it hard for yourself, and will most likely loose the case. If you have planned to appeal, which should always be done, then it will be easier and less costly to appeal.

Damn, that’s good, I am going to post.

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HON Office Chairs

Ok, I am going to go a little different direction with this post.  I have something to say, and cannot wait any longer.

Everyone in the Office World, is familiar with HON office furniture, chairs, task chairs in particular I speak of.  A while back, I ordered a chair to replace my old worn out chair that I spend 18-20 hours a day sitting in.  

Of course, I skimped on the chair, trying to watch the money.  Mainly because I didn’t have time to go around and check chairs out.  Yall know me, I order everything over the internet, and rarely see in person what it is that I am buying.  If I spend 18-20 hours a day at the computer, it leaves no time for shopping.

Anyway, I had always heard that HON chairs are “over-priced”, “not all that they are made out to be”, “not really all that comfortable”, you know… the kinds of things people say, when they cannot afford something.  We’ve all heard that kind of thing before.

Anyway, my bestest friend, the one that passed away at the first of the year, he was having a garage sale.  I don’t go to garage sales, but this particular day, I told James to come on and lets go out for a ride.  I know, don’t gasp at my boldness, leaving the house and all…  

Anyway, when I saw the HON, I immediately knew what it was.  I had no idea how much was invested in the chair, or how much they would want for it.  The cylinder was messed up and had slipped down and was digging into the ground.  One of the females over at Donnie’s had been going round and round and round, and said that it just slipped down. Other than that, it was in perfect shape.  I asked how much they wanted, and pointed out that the chair had issues.  Ten Dollars!

Done deal.  James did not quite understand the ramifications of such a chair.  Now he always tells me “Make sure you don’t do this, or don’t do that, you will probably never be able to buy such a chair again”.  

The other day, the cylinder had gotten to where it would not hold weight any longer.  James looked at everything.  This chair, let me tell you.  It has the height adjustment through the cylinder, and three other levers.  The seat tilts, it slides and tilts, the back is adjustable, and everything you can think of.  I love it!  Anyway, we determined that the cylinder had gone bad.  James told me that he did not know for sure, but that we could surely afford a new cylinder.

I pulled up HON on the internet, and oohed and aahed at all the task chairs similar to my own.  I was most impressed of course.  I could not determine how to get parts, so emailed.  That same day, they emailed me back.  I was so surprised that I almost deleted the email without realizing who it was from.  Long story short…  The warranty covered the cylinder.  A new one will be here 5-7 days, and they sent me instructions in the email letting me know about when to expect the cylinder.

Wow!  I just had to share this good news with someone.  I rarely have anything really good to say about anyone, especially companies nowadays.  HON has found a friend in me though.  I tell you what.  Their people over there, are some of the most friendly, personable people I have dealt with in many years.

So while you are listening to all the reasons not to buy a HON…know deep down inside why people are telling you those reasons.  I can tell you why you should.  Compared to any other chair that I have attempted to sit in for 18-20 hours a day, the HON is the one that don’t cause my legs and feet to swell nearly as bad; it is perfect for everything, with all those adjustments, you can get around being chair fatigued.  They are nice looking chairs.  The people at HON are wonderful to work with.  The complete chair, is also customizable.    Is that a word?  The speller in the computer says no, but we will go with it anyway.  

THANKS HON!!!

I Was Depressed, But Am Much Better Now…

After I read some posts on others’ blogs, I really do feel much better. Wanna know which ones I read? Here they are:

“NO ENDORSEMENT, NO NEGOTIATION–NO NEGOTIATION, NO SECURITIZATION” On Liberty Road Media: http://libertyroadmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/no-endorsement-no-negotiation-no-negotiation-no-securitization/

and I read this and it helped too!:

Ineptocracy from here:
http://tomfernandez28.com/2014/06/20/ineptocracy-3/

Of course this Helped a lot!:

http://www.newser.com/story/188674/miss-usa-doesnt-know-her-state-capital.html
but I actually read that here:
https://wordpress.com/

         Foreclosure filings were reported on 124,419 U.S. properties in January 2014, an 8 percent increase from December but still down 18 percent from January 2013.  Foreclosure filings were reported on 1,361,795 U.S. properties in 2013, down 26 percent from 2012 and down 53 percent from the peak of 2.9 million properties with foreclosure filings in 2010.  But still, 9.3 million U.S. residential properties were deeply underwater representing 19 percent of all properties with a mortgage in December 2013, down from 10.7 million homes underwater in September 2013.[1] 

            In 2006 there were 1,215,304 foreclosures, 545,000 foreclosure filings and 268,532 Home Repossessions.  By 2007 foreclosures had almost doubled – up to 2,203,295 with 1,260,000 foreclosure filings and 489,000 Home Repossessions.  2008 saw an even further increase to 3,019,482 foreclosures, 2,350,000 Foreclosure filings and 679,000 Home Repossessions.  In 20093,457,643 foreclosures, 2,920,000 foreclosure filings, and 945,000 Home Repossessions.  2010:  3,843,548 foreclosures, 3,500,000 foreclosure filings, and 1,125,000 Home Repossessions.  2011:  3,920,418 foreclosures, 3,580,000 foreclosure filings, and 1,147,000 Home Repossessions.  Then January to September 20121,616,427 foreclosures 1,382,000 foreclosure filings and 572,844 Repossessions.  The remainder of 2012 – September through December saw an additional 2,300,000 foreclosures, 2,100,000 foreclosure filings and 700,000 Repossessions.  In other words, from 2006 through 2012, there were a total of  21,576,117 foreclosures; 17,637,000 foreclosure filings; 5,926,376 Home Repossessions.  The foreclosures added to the repossessions is equal to:  27,502,493[2].  The numbers are staggering.

            Many of the homes have been wrongfully foreclosed upon, where either the party had not been in default, or the foreclosing party lacked standing to foreclose.  It has become almost as lawless as the wildwest, or comparable to a shark feeding frenzy.


[1] All of the foreclosure figures came from RealtyTrac:  http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report

[2] http://www.statisticbrain.com/home-foreclosure-statistics/                                                                 Statistic Verification  Source: RealtyTrac, Federal Reserve, Equifax

Sentiments of US District Judge, Jed S. Rakoff – We Need More Judges Like This One!

I was reading some information about the financial crisis in this country (USA), and ran across a paper written by US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff.  If we had more Judges with the mind of this one, we would not be in nearly as bad a shape as we are in.  I have not yet figured out how the Judges justify allowing foreclosures, when they know for a fact that the Banks and their attorneys are creating fraudulent documents, committing perjury in their Courtrooms, and are breaking so many laws, that it has become the norm…  

Read what Honorable Judge Jed S. Rakoff says:  http://www.ft.com/cms/cb1e43f2-4be6-11e3-8203-00144feabdc0.pdf

11/12/13
Why Have No High Level Executives Been Prosecuted In Connection With The Financial Crisis?
by Jed S. Rakoff
(U.S. District Judge)

Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.

Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever-more-esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?

If it was the former – if the recession was due, at worst, to a lack of caution – then the criminal law has no role to play in the aftermath. For, in all but a few circumstances (not here relevant), the fierce and fiery weapon called criminal prosecution is directed at intentional misconduct, and nothing less. If the Great Recession was in no part the handiwork of intentionally fraudulent practices by high-level executives, then to prosecute such executives criminally would be “scapegoating” of the most shallow and despicable kind.

But if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years.Indeed, it would stand in striking contrast to the increased success that federal prosecutors have had over the past 50 years or so in bringing to justice even the highest level figures who orchestrated mammoth frauds. Thus, in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of the “junk bond” bubble that, in many ways, was a precursor of the more recent bubble in mortgage-backed securities, the progenitors of the fraud were all successfully prosecuted, right up to Michael Milken. Again, in the 1980’s, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis, which again had some eerie parallels to more recent events, resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than 800 individuals, right up to Charles Keating. And, again, the widespread accounting frauds of the 1990’s, most vividly represented by Enron and WorldCom, led directly to the successful prosecution of such previously respected C.E.O.’s as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Ebbers.

In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high level executive has been successfully prosecuted in  connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears very likely that none will be. It may not be too soon, therefore, to ask why.

One possibility, already mentioned, is that no fraud was committed. This possibility should not be  discounted. Every case is different, and I, for one, have no opinion as to whether criminal fraud was committed in any given instance.

 But the stated opinion of those government entities asked to examine the financial crisis overall is not that no fraud was committed. Quite the contrary. For example, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in its final report, uses variants of the word “fraud” no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the crisis, concluding that there was a “systemic breakdown,” not just in  accountability, but also in ethical behavior. As the Commission found, the signs of fraud were everywhere to be seen, with the number of reports of suspected mortgage fraud rising 20-fold between 1998 and 2005 and then doubling again in the next four years. As early as 2004, FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, was publicly warning of the “pervasive problem” of mortgage fraud, driven by the voracious demand for mortgagebacked securities. Similar warnings, many from within the financial community, were disregarded, not because they were  viewed as inaccurate, but because, as one high level banker put it, “A decision was made that ‘We’re going to have to hold our nose and start buying the product if we want to stay in business.’”

Without multiplying examples, the point is that, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the prevailing view of many government officials (as well as others) was that the crisis was in material respects the product of intentional fraud. In a nutshell, the fraud, they argued, was a simple one. Subprime mortgages, i.e., mortgages of dubious creditworthiness, increasingly provided the sole collateral for highly-leveraged securities that were marketed as triple-A, i.e., of very low risk. How could this transformation of a sow’s ear into a silk purse be accomplished unless someone dissembled along the way?

While officials of the Department of Justice have been more circumspect in describing the roots of the financial crisis than have the various commissions of inquiry and other government agencies, I have seen nothing to indicate their disagreement with the widespread conclusion that fraud at every level permeated the bubble in mortgage-backed securities. Rather, their position has been to excuse their failure to prosecute high level individuals for fraud in connection with the financial crisis on one or more of three grounds:

First, they have argued that proving fraudulent intent on the part of the high level management of the banks and companies involved has proved difficult. It is undoubtedly true that the ranks of top management were several levels removed from those who were putting together the collateralized debt obligations and other securities offerings that were based on dubious mortgages; and the people generating the mortgages themselves were often at other companies and thus even further removed. And I want to stress again that I have no opinion as to whether any given top executive had knowledge of the dubious nature of the underlying mortgages, let alone fraudulent intent. But what I do find surprising is that the Department of Justice should view the proving of intent as so difficult in this context. Who, for example, were generating the so-called “suspicious activity” reports of mortgage fraud that, as mentioned, increased so hugely in the years leading up to the crisis? Why, the banks themselves. A top level banker, one might argue, confronted with increasing evidence from his own and other banks that mortgage fraud was increasing, might have inquired as to why his bank’s mortgage-based securities continued to receive triple-A ratings?  And if, despite these and other reports of suspicious activity, the executive failed to make such inquiries, might it be because he did not want to know what such inquiries would reveal?  

This, of course, is what is known in the law as “willful blindness” or “conscious disregard.” It is a well-established basis on which federal prosecutors have asked juries to infer intent, in cases involving complexities, such as accounting treatments, at least as esoteric as those involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis. And while some federal courts have occasionally expressed qualifications about the use of the willful blindness approach to prove intent, the Supreme Court has consistently approved it. As that Court stated most recently in Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 131 S.Ct. 2060, 2068 (2011), “The doctrine of willful blindness is well established in criminal law. Many criminal statutes require proof that a defendant acted knowingly or willfully, and courts applying the doctrine of willful blindness hold that defendants cannot escape the reach of these statutes by deliberately shielding themselves from clear evidence of critical facts that are strongly suggested by the circumstances.” Thus, the Department’s claim that proving intent in the financial crisis context is particularly difficult may strike some as doubtful.

Second, and even weaker, the Department of Justice has sometimes argued that, because the institutions to whom mortgagebacked securities were sold were themselves sophisticated investors, it might be difficult to prove reliance. Thus, in  defending the failure to prosecute high level executives for frauds arising from the sale of mortgage-backed securities, the then head of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, told PBS that “in a criminal case … I have to prove not only that you made a false statement but that you intended to commit a crime, and also that the other side of the transaction relied on what you were saying. And frankly, in many of the securitizations and the kinds of transactions we’re talking about, in reality you had very sophisticated counterparties on both sides. And so even though one side may have said something was dark blue when really we can say it was sky blue, the other side of the transaction, the other sophisticated party, wasn’t relying at all on the description of the color.”

Actually, given the fact that these securities were bought and sold at lightning speed, it is by no means obvious that even a sophisticated counterparty would have detected the problems with the arcane, convoluted mortgage-backed derivatives they were being asked to purchase. But there is a more fundamental problem with the above-quoted statement from the former head of the Criminal Division, which is that it totally misstates the law.  In actuality, in a criminal fraud case the Government is never required to prove reliance, ever. The reason, of course, is that would give a crooked seller a license to lie whenever he was  dealing with a sophisticated counterparty.  The law, however, says that society is harmed when a seller purposely lies about a material fact, even if the immediate purchaser does not rely on that particular fact, because such misrepresentations create problems for the market as a whole. And surely there never was a situation in which the sale of dubious mortgage-backed securities created more of a huge problem for the marketplace, and society as a whole, than in the recent financial crisis.

The third reason the Department has sometimes given for not bringing these prosecutions is that to do so would itself harm the economy. Thus, Attorney General Holder himself told Congress that “it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute – if we do bring a criminal charge – it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” To a federal judge, who takes an oath to apply the law equally to rich and to poor, this excuse — sometimes labeled the “too big to jail” excuse – is disturbing, frankly, in what it says about the
Department’s apparent disregard for equality under the law.

In fairness, however, Mr. Holder was referring to the prosecution of financial institutions, rather than their
C.E.O.’s. But if we are talking about prosecuting individuals, the excuse becomes entirely irrelevant; for no one that I know of has ever contended that a big financial institution would collapse if one or more of its high level executives were prosecuted, as opposed to the institution itself.

Without multiplying examples further, my point is that the Department of Justice has never taken the position that all the top executives involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis were innocent, but rather has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them – excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing. So, you might ask, what’s really going on here? I don’t claim to have any inside information about the real reasons why no such prosecutions have been brought, but I take the liberty of offering some speculations, for your consideration or amusement as the case may be.

At the outset, however, let me say that I totally discount the argument sometimes made that no such prosecutions have been brought because the top prosecutors were often people who previously represented the financial institutions in question and/or were people who expected to be representing such
institutions in the future: the so-called “revolving door.” In my experience, every federal prosecutor, at every level, is seeking to make a name for him-or-herself, and the best way to do that is by prosecuting some high level person. While companies that are indicted almost always settle, individual defendants whose careers are at stake will often go to trial. And if the Government wins such a trial, as it usually does, the prosecutor’s reputation is made.My point is that whatever small influence the “revolving door” may have in discouraging certain white-collar prosecutions is more than offset, at least in the case of prosecuting high-level individuals, by the career-making benefits such prosecutions confer on the successful prosecutor.  So, one asks again, why haven’t we seen such prosecutions growing out of the financial crisis? I offer, by way of speculation, three influences that I think, along with others, have had the effect of limiting such prosecutions.

First, the prosecutors had other priorities. Some of these were completely understandable. For example, prior to 2001, the FBI had more than 1,000 agents assigned to investigating financial frauds, but after 9/11 many of these agents were shifted to anti-terrorism work. Who can argue with that?  Eventually, it is true, new agents were hired for some of the vacated spots in fraud detection; but this is not a form of detection easily learned and recent budget limitations have only exacerbated the problem.

Of course, the FBI is not the primary investigator of fraud in the sale of mortgage-backed securities; that responsibility lies mostly with the S.E.C. But at the very time the financial crisis was breaking, the S.E.C. was trying to deflect criticism from its failure to detect the Madoff fraud, and this led it to concentrate on other Ponzi-like schemes, which for awhile were, along with accounting frauds, its chief focus. More recently, the S.E.C. has been hard hit by budget limitations, and this has not only made it more difficult to assign the kind of manpower the kinds of frauds we are talking about require, but also has led S.E.C. enforcement to focus on the smaller, easily resolved cases that will beef up their statistics when they go to Congress begging for money.

As for the Department of Justice proper, a decision was made around 2009 to spread the investigation of these financial fraud cases among numerous U.S. Attorney’s Offices, many of which had little or no prior experience in investigating and prosecuting sophisticated financial frauds. At the same time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office with the greatest expertise in these kinds of cases, the Southern District of New York, was just embarking on its prosecution of insider trading cases arising from the Rajaratnam tapes, which soon proved a gold mine of good cases that absorbed a huge amount of the attention of the securities fraud unit of that office. While I want to stress again that I have no inside information, as a former chief of that unit I would venture to guess that the cases involving the financial crisis were parceled out to Assistants who also had insider trading cases. Which do you think an Assistant would devote most of her attention to:  an insider trading case that was already nearly ready to go to indictment and that might lead to a highvisibility trial, or a financial crisis case that was just getting started, would take years to complete, and had no guarantee of even leading to an indictment? Of course, she would put her energy into the insider trading case, and if she was lucky, it would go to trial, she would win, and she would then take a job with a large law firm. And in the process, the financial fraud case would get lost in the shuffle.

Alternative priorities, in short, is, I submit, one of the reasons the financial fraud cases were not brought, especially cases against high level individuals that would take many years, many investigators, and a great deal of expertise to investigate.  But a second, and less salutary, reason for not bringing such cases is the Government’s own involvement in the underlying circumstances that led to the financial crisis.

On the one hand, the government, writ large, had a hand in creating the conditions that encouraged the approval of dubious mortgages. It was the government, in the form of Congress, that repealed Glass-Steagall, thus allowing certain banks that had previously viewed mortgages as a source of interest income to become instead deeply involved in securitizing pools of mortgages in order to obtain the much greater profits available from trading. It was the government, in the form of both the executive and the legislature, that encouraged deregulation, thus weakening the power and oversight not only of the S.E.C. but also of such diverse banking overseers as the O.T.S. and the O.C.C. It was the government, in the form of the Fed, that kept interest rates low in part to encourage mortgages. It was the government, in the form of the executive, that strongly encouraged banks to make loans to low-income persons who might have previously been regarded as too risky to warrant a mortgage. It was the government, in the form of the government-sponsored entities known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that helped create the fora-time insatiable market for mortgage-backed securities. And it was the government, pretty much across the board, that acquiesced in the ever greater tendency not to require meaningful documentation as a condition of obtaining a mortgage, often preempting in this regard state regulations designed to assure greater mortgage quality and a borrower’s ability to repay.

The result of all this was the mortgages that later became known as “liars’ loans.” They were increasingly risky; but what did the banks care, since they were making their money from the securitizations; and what did the government care, since they  were helping to boom the economy and helping voters to realize their dream of owning a home.

Moreover, the government was also deeply enmeshed in the aftermath of the financial crisis. It was the government that proposed the shotgun marriages of Bank of America with Merrill Lynch, of J.P. Morgan with Bear Stearns, etc. If, in the process, mistakes were made and liabilities not disclosed, was it not partly the government’s fault?

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not alleging that the Government knowingly participated in any of the fraudulent practices alleged by the Financial Inquiry Crisis Commission and others. But what I am suggesting is that the Government was deeply involved, from beginning to end, in helping create the conditions that could lead to such fraud, and that this would give a prudent prosecutor pause in deciding whether to indict a C.E.O. who might, with some justice, claim that he was only doing what he fairly believed the Government wanted him to do.

 The final factor I would mention is both the most subtle and the most systemic of the three, and arguably the most important, and it is the shift that has occurred over the past 30 years or more from focusing on prosecuting high-level individuals to focusing on prosecuting companies and other institutions. It is true that prosecutors have brought criminal charges against companies for well over a hundred years, but, until relatively recently, such prosecutions were the exception, and prosecutions of companies without simultaneous prosecutions of their managerial agents were even rarer. The reasons were obvious. Companies do not commit crimes; only their agents do. And while a company might get the benefit of some such crimes, prosecuting the company would inevitably punish, directly or indirectly, the many employees and shareholders who were totally innocent.   Moreover, under the law of most U.S. jurisdictions, a company cannot be criminally liable unless at least one managerial agent has committed the crime in question; so why not prosecute the agent who actually committed the crime?

 In recent decades, however, prosecutors have been increasingly attracted to prosecuting companies, often even without indicting a single individual. This shift has often been rationalized as part of an attempt to transform “corporate cultures,” so as to prevent future such crimes; and, as a result, it has taken the form of “deferred prosecution agreements” or even “non-prosecution agreements,” in which the company, under threat of criminal prosecution, agrees to take various prophylactic measures to prevent future wrongdoing. But in practice, I suggest, it has led to some lax and dubious behavior on the part of prosecutors, with deleterious results.    

If you are a prosecutor attempting to discover the individuals responsible for an apparent financial fraud, you go about your business in much the same way you go after mobsters or drug kingpins: you start at the bottom and, over many months or years, slowly work your way up. Specifically, you start by “flipping” some lower level participant in the fraud whom you can show was directly responsible for making one or more false material misrepresentations but who is willing to cooperate in order to reduce his sentence, and – aided by the substantial prison penalties now available in white collar cases – you go up the ladder. For a detailed example of how this works, I recommend Kurt Eichenwald’s well-known book The Informant, which describes how FBI agents, over a period of three years, uncovered the huge price-fixing conspiracy involving high-level executives at Archer Daniels, all of whom were successfully prosecuted.

But if your priority is prosecuting the company, a different scenario takes place. Early in the investigation, you invite in counsel to the company and explain to him or her why you suspect fraud. He or she responds by assuring you that the company wants to cooperate and do the right thing, and to that end the company has hired a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, now a partner at a respected law firm, to do an internal investigation. The company’s counsel asks you to defer your investigation until the company’s own internal investigation is completed, on the condition that the company will share its results with you. In order to save time and resources, you agree. Six months later the company’s counsel returns, with a detailed report showing that mistakes were made but that the company is now intent on correcting them. You and the company then agree that the company will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement that couples some immediate fines with the imposition of expensive but internal prophylactic measures. For all practical purposes the case is now over. You are happy because you believe that you have helped prevent future crimes; the company is happy because it has avoided a devastating indictment; and perhaps the happiest of all are the executives, or former executives, who actually committed the underlying misconduct, for they are left untouched. 

I suggest that this is not the best way to proceed. Although it is supposedly justified in terms of preventing future crimes, I suggest that the future deterrent value of successfully prosecuting individuals far outweighs the prophylactic benefits of imposing internal compliance measures that are often little more than window-dressing. Just going after the company is also both technically and morally suspect. It is technically suspect because, under the law, you should not indict or threaten to indict a company unless you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt  that some managerial agent of the company committed the alleged crime; and if you can prove that, why not indict the manager?  And from a moral standpoint, punishing a company and its many innocent employees and shareholders for the crimes committed by some unprosecuted individuals seems contrary to elementary notions of moral responsibility.

These criticisms take on special relevance, however, in the instance of investigations growing out of the financial crisis, because, as noted, the Department of Justice’s position, until at least very, very recently, is that going after the suspect institutions poses too great a risk to the nation’s economic recovery. So you don’t go after the companies, at least not criminally, because they are too big to jail; and you don’t go after the individuals, because that would involve the kind of years-long investigations that you no longer have the experience or the resources to pursue.

In conclusion, I want to stress again that I have no idea whether the financial crisis that is still causing so many of us so much pain and despondency was the product, in whole or in part, of fraudulent misconduct. But if it was — as various governmental authorities have asserted it was –- then, the failure of the government to bring to justice those responsible for such colossal fraud bespeaks weaknesses in our prosecutorial system that need to be addressed.

Living Lies, Telling It Like It Is! Thank You!

New post on Livinglies’s Weblog

Federal Agent Misconduct in Favor of BofA and McCarthy Holthus and Levine law firm?

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/federal-agent-misconduct-in-favor-of-bofa-and-mccarthy-holthus-and-levine-law-firm/

by Neil Garfield

HAS FORECLOSURE DEFENSE BECOME A TERROR THREAT?

WHO IS TERRIFIED HERE?

This is a story about abuse of power or abuse of apparent power. The object is to cover-up crimes that remain largely undetected because the complex maze created by the “Thirteen Banks.”The stakes could not be higher. Either the current major Banks will be sustained or they will come crashing down with a feeding frenzy on a carcass of a predator that stole tens of trillions of dollars from multiple countries, hundreds of millions of people, and millions of homes across the world that should, by all accounts under the Law, still belong to the owner who was displaced by foreclosure. The banks are willing to do anything and they are paying outsize fees and other legal expenses (topping $100 Billion now).

The agents involved — Mike Lum from Homeland Security, Tim Hines, FBI Agent, and Sean Locksa, FBI agent — were either moonlighting (the agents say they were acting in their official capacity) and using their badges in appropriately or they were sent to intimidate litigants with Bank of America represented by McCarthy Holthus and Levine. A few years back, I received reports that the law firm, and in particular attorney Levine, had sent letters to local prosecutors to request action against people who were defending their property from foreclosure. The agents admitted to Blomberg today that they received a “tip” and that “it” was “no longer” a criminal manner and that they had ended their investigation.

In one prior case I saw a letter and I believe I might have seen an affidavit signed by Levine. The result was a series of indictments against one individual that were later dismissed. I have no information on the other cases all dating back to around 2010. I know one of the people, the one who I know was indicted, spent the last bit of her money hiring a criminal attorney to defend her. The case was “settled with a dismissal.” She subsequently lost two homes that were previously unencumbered in a foreclosure where different parties stepped in to foreclose than the ones who asked for lift stay in her bankruptcy. None of the parties were creditors or properly identified.

I now believe I have enough information to connect the dots, and raise the question as to whether members of local, federal and state law enforcement are colluding (or are being wrongfully used by the suggestion of false information) with Bank of America and at least one law firm — McCarthy Holthus and Levine — in which litigants and perhaps witnesses are intimidated into submission to wrongful foreclosures. The information contained in this article relates primarily to Arizona and to a lesser degree, California. I have no information on any other such activity in any other state of the union.

It also appears as though Bank of America and McCarthy Holthus and Levine were taking advantage of some sloppiness at the Post Office, for which the Postmaster in Simi Valley has apologized and sent a refund to the complainant, Darrell Blomberg whose story can be read below. The interesting thing here is that Blomberg reports that McCarthy Holthus and Levine directly received a letter that was addressed to Celia Mora, a suspected robo signor who apparently lives in Simi Valley, according to the post office, but whose mail bears a San Diego postmark.

The joint terrorism task force supposedly represented by the three men identified above, will not answer calls relating to this matter. Thus we only have Blomberg’s report and my own information and analysis — and of course public record. We do have a callback received today by Blomberg who reports that the agents answered a limited number of questions.

The information contained in this report is substantially corroborated by another source who, like Blomberg I consider to have the highest integrity and who was also visited this past week by the same agents who visited Blomberg. Since no specific act was alleged in the interviews except the perfectly legal request to the post office to confirm an address of a potential witness and test mailings to see who was receiving the mailings, it is hard to conclude anything other than that these agents were being used officially or unofficially to intimidate litigants who have been successful at defending their homes in foreclosure for years, and to intimidate them into ceasing their factual and investigative help to other homeowners who are also being wrongfully foreclosed.

If these interviews were sanctioned by the terrorism task force, the FBI or Homeland security it clearly represents the use of Federal law enforcement authority for the benefit of gaining a civil advantage — a crime in most jurisdictions. How high the orders went in those organization I do not know. If there were no such orders and these agents were doing a “favor” then they are subject to discipline for misuse of their badge and deliberately misleading the persons interviewed into thinking that this was an official investigation. The agencies involved might be negligent in supervising the activity of these agents. Neither of the sources for this story have any mark on their record except the mark of distinction — one having worked for decades in law enforcement in economic crimes.

Was Darrel Blomberg getting too close to the truth?

In litigation, one of the points raised by Blomberg was that Celia Mora — allegedly signed an affidavit perhaps by herself and perhaps as a robo signor. The issue of forgery didn’t come up. There was a San Diego post mark same day as the affidavit was allegedly signed 160 miles away. Blomberg’s position was Mora had no actual authority no actual executive position or managerial position, and signed clerically under instruction without knowledge of the contents. That is it. The fact that McCarthy Holthus and Levine actually received the letter addressed to Mora through normal postal service leads one to believe that the affidavit may have been created at the law firm and perhaps even signed there in Arizona. Hence any criminal behavior suggested was not the work of Blomberg but could have been the work of the law firm or Bank of America. To my knowledge there is no investigation pending relating to the use of the mails, false documents, improper signatures, lack of authority or any of the issues presented by Blomberg.

From there it became a vague charge of harassment communicated by three Federal Agents. Harassment was the word used by the agents in the interview with Blomberg and the interview with my other source. But no specific act was stated even in passing as to what act would be investigated as harassment, no less a matter of national security. More telling, when the agents left both interviews, neither source was instructed or requested to stop any specific act. That leads to the question, if there was no conduct they sought to stop, why were they there at all?

Note that McCarthy Malthus and Levine has been replaced by the law firm of Bryan Cave since June, 2013 in Blomberg’s case. Generally speaking Greg Iannelli, Esq. handles the more sensitive pieces of litigation that could blow the lid off of the fraudulent scheme of securitization.

Read Blomberg’s account here —> 2013-08-29, Unexpected Visit from the National Joint Terrorism Task Force

Background and analysis: Why do the banks continue to use low paid clerical workers to sign affidavits and other documents for which they obviously lack authority or knowledge? Why won’t a true executive with true authority and actual personal knowledge based upon his or her own actual observation, investigation and analysis to make sure the foreclosure is proper as to the property, the persons, the balance due and the existence of a default — especially with reference to the actual creditor’s books of account?

Convenience doesn’t cover it. With legal costs topping $100 Billion it would be impossible to pass the giggle test on any explanation of convenience when it comes to the paperwork. My conclusion is that it is worth getting embarrassed in court as long as the number of times is small enough that the overall scheme is not toppled. The use of clerical personnel to sign and approve documents relating to foreclosure is akin to allowing teller’s decide whether you can have a loan on that new car or new house. It doesn’t happen. If it doesn’t happen when the “loan” goes out, then it is fair to assume that the same standards would apply when the loan turns bad and comes back in.

Think about it. The Banks are reporting record profits. U. S. Bank reported $42 Billion in just one quarter. They are attributing their profits to proprietary trading — something I have attributed to laundering the illicit retention of funds that should have been used to pay investors the principal and accrued interest that was due on the promise of investment banks when they issued bogus mortgage bonds. That money was received by the Banks as agents for the investors and therefore, whether paid or not, is a credit against the account receivable owned by the investors.

The Glaski appellate attorneys gratuitously admitted that the true owner of the debts will never be known. Yet the true relationship between the homeowners and the lenders is regarded as known and enforceable. In short, the position of the Banks is that we don’t know who this money belongs to but it must belong to someone so we are going to collect it and foreclose. We’ll get back to you later on what we did with the money. The Banks are required to take that idiotic position because (a) it is still working in court and (b) they get to avoid liability to investors, guarantors, insurers, borrowers and government agencies that could exceed $10 trillion. So $100 Billion in legal expenses is only 1% of their exposure. It is easy to see how the Math works. If the legal expenses were a far more significant portion of the money the Banks were holding then they would find another way to deal with it. 

If the false trading and laundering of money was properly entered on the books as merely repatriating money that was hidden, the investors would be spared the losses that threaten our pensions and cities. It would also alleviate or eliminate the corresponding account payable due from homeowners, city budgets and other “borrowers” who were the unwitting pawns in a scheme to defraud investors. The collateral damage to all citizens, all taxpayers, all consumers, all workers and all homeowners has been obvious since 2007.

The extraordinary story is aggravated by the knowledge that the legal expenses of the Banks has now topped $100 Billion. Like I said, think about it. Nobody spends $100 Billion unless it is worth it. It is worth the price because of the amount of liability they are avoiding, and the amount of money they stole that went offshore. The amount of the theft can be estimated in a variety of ways, and the results are always the same. They siphoned trillions of dollars from many countries. In the U.S. alone it appears that the total was in excess of $17 Trillion, which is $3 Trillion MORE than the total amount of lending on residential “loans.” Extrapolating the most recent profit report from U. S. Bank from a quarter (three months) to a year, that one Bank is reporting annual earnings from “proprietary” trading in excess of $160 Billion per year. That is one of 18 Banks that were involved in this crime against humanity. Do the math.

So the Banks retain money that they never legally earned at the expense of deceived investors, Cities and sovereign wealth funds AND at the expense of the “borrowers” in the “underlying” deals. And by not crediting the lenders, the corresponding reduction of the account payable from “Borrowers” is also absent. No consent for principal reduction is required because the balance has also been reduced or extinguished by payment. Follow the money trail and the results was astonish you. This is like organized crime with all the trimmings of governmental complicity.

Now I am reporting that based upon a pattern of conduct that appears particularly egregious in Arizona, this unholy alliance between the people who committed the wrongs and government is becoming apparent. Who would have imagined indictments and “investigations” of people litigating their cases against the Banks after the scale the crime became apparent in 2008-2009?

CAVEAT: The agents in the Blomberg interview insist they were acting in their official capacity and I take them at their word. My problem with that assumption is that it means the system is susceptible of manipulation by attorneys who have no problem playing dirty tricks to gain a civil advantage. Or, worse, it means that there are high level people in the system who are willing to look the other way when this behavior pops up.

By this point in the savings and loan scandal in the 1980’s more than 800 bank presidents and loan officers, along with mortgage brokers and originators had been convicted by a jury and were serving their sentences. This time the tally is zero. But the reverse is not true. Mortgage brokers and originators and investors who played the system against itself have been investigated, prosecuted and sentenced to prison. And even homeowners have been accused of crimes that were identical to the crimes committed by Banks on a much larger scale. Steal a million, go to jail. Steal a Trillion and get immunity because the finance system might not survive removing the criminals from our society. No longer a nation of laws we have become a nation of men, corrupt men, who continue to accumulate wealth and power as they channel their illicit gains into reported Bank “profits” and control over world natural resources.

For about three years I have been investigating an unholy alliance between a law firm, McCarthy Holthus and Levine, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and law enforcement. It appears as though they have some special influence and that local, state and Federal law enforcement agents are acting as collectors and intimidators outside the boundaries of the law. Prosecutors have followed this line of attack against those pro se litigants who are getting close to the truth that the foreclosures — all of them — were bogus, if they were based upon mortgages and deeds of trust carrying claims of securitization, arising from Assignment and Assumption Agreements, Pooling and Servicing Agreements, and false prospectuses to investors.

The attached report from Darrel Blomberg, a person of unparalleled integrity, tells the story of agents from the FBI who (whether they realized it or not) are clearly acting at the behest and for the benefit of Bank of America, who was represented by McCarthy Holthus and Levine. In the past week, the agents have been visiting at least two people based upon a “harassment” allegation. The agents declared themselves to be part of a joint terrorism task force. The act of harassment was a request for confirmation of address and confirmation of address that ended up both in the offices of Bank of America and the office of McCarthy Holthus and Levine. It was addressed to the U.S. Postmaster who apologized for gaffes in processing the requests and even refunded money to Blomberg. No investigation has been threatened by the U.S. Postal inspector against either the Bank or the law firm. And none has been threatened against Blomberg.

Having a few pages of the attempt to get address of a robo signor whose signature appears to have been forged, these agents have interviewed two people in Arizona that have been known to provide factual assistance to other homeowners and whose own cases have been spread out over many years as the Bank continues to fail in its attempt to claim ownership or verify the balance of the debt. These agents identified themselves as having been dispatched from the FBI, Homeland security and the joint task force. Whether they were merely moonlighting or were in fact dispatched by their superiors, it is clear that no criminal matter was under investigation, and that their purpose was to intimidate two people who fortunately are not easily intimidated. Based upon my investigation it appears as though that law Firm, McCarthy, Holthus and Levine who is frequently replaced by Bryan Cave, has been doing dirty work for the banks through contacts in law enforcement.

It is happening and this should be stopped before it becomes a commonplace act throughout the country.

In the final analysis the issue of ownership of the loan is going to unravel this mess because it is only then that we can look at the books of account and see what money is owed on the original account receivable for the creditor/investor/REMIC.

The analysis of ownership does not merely look to the agreements the parties entered into because the label parties give to a transaction does not determine its character. See Helvering v. Lazarus & Co. 308 U.S. 252, 255 (1939). The analysis must examine the underlying economics and the attendant facts and circumstances to determine who owns the mortgage notes for tax purposes. See id. The court in In re Kemp documents in painful detail how Countrywide failed to transfer possession of a note to the pool backing a Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) so that Countrywide failed to comply with the requirements necessary for the mortgage to comply with the REMIC rules. See In re Kemp, 440 F.R. 624 (Bkrtcy D.N.J. 2010). Defendant in this case has done exactly what was adjudicated in Kemp, failure to sufficiently show a timely transfer that complied with the strict language of the trusts’ Agreements.

As the Kemp court notes, “[f]rom the maker’s standpoint, it becomes essential to establish that the person who demands payment of a negotiable note, or to whom payment is made, is the duly qualified holder. Otherwise, the obligor is exposed to the risk of double payment, or at least to the expense of litigation incurred to prevent duplicative satisfaction of the instrument. These risks provide makers (Plaintiff in this case) with a recognizable interest in demanding proof of the chain of title” (specifically referring to the trust participants). 440 B.R. at 631 (quoting Adams v. Madison Realty & Dev., Inc., 853 F.2d 163, 168 (3d Cir. N.J. 1988). And because the originator did not comply with the legal niceties, the beneficial owner of the debt, the trustee, cannot file its proof of claim either. 

Another Great Article From Living Lies, Telling It Like It Is!

LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE

Posted on August 19, 2013 by Neil Garfield

“We are still in the death grip of the banks as they attempt to portray themselves as the bulwarks of society even as they continue to rob us of homes, lives, jobs and vitally needed capital which is being channeled into natural resources so that when we commence the gargantuan task of repairing our infrastructure we can no longer afford it and must borrow the money from the thieves who created the gaping hole in our economy threatening the soul of our democracy.” Neil Garfield, livinglies.me

We all know that dozens of people rose to power in Europe and Asia in the 1930′s and 1940′s who turned the world on its head and were responsible for the extermination of tens of millions of people. World War II still haunts us as it projected us into an arms race in which we were the first and only country to kill all the people who lived in two cities in Japan. The losses on both sides of the war were horrendous.
Some of us remember the revelations in 1982 that the United States actively recruited unrepentant Nazi officers and scientists for intelligence and technological advantages in the coming showdown with what was known as the Soviet Union. Amongst the things done for the worst war criminals was safe passage (no prosecution for war crimes) and even new identities created by the United States Department of Justice. Policy was created that diverted richly deserved consequences into rich rewards for knowledge. With WWII in the rear view mirror policy-makers decided to look ahead and prepare for new challenges.

Some of us remember the savings and loans scandals where banks nearly destroyed everything in the U.S. marketplace in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Law enforcement went into high gear, investigated, and pieced together the methods and complex transactions meant to hide the guilt of the main perpetrators in and out of government and the business world. More than 800 people went to jail. Of course, none of the banks had achieved the size that now exists in our financial marketplace.

Increasing the mass of individual financial institutions produced a corresponding capacity for destruction that eclipsed anything imagined by anyone outside of Wall Street. The exponentially increasing threat was ignored as the knowledge of Einstein’s famous equation faded into obscurity. The possibilities for mass destruction of our societies was increasing exponentially as the mass of giant financial service companies grew and the accountability dropped off when they were allowed to incorporate and even sell their shares publicly, replacing a system, hundreds of years old in which partners were ultimately liable for losses they created.

The next generation of world dominators would be able to bring the world to its knees without firing a shot or gassing anyone. Institutions grew as malignancies on steroids and created the illusion of contributing half our gross domestic product while real work, real production and real inventions were constrained to function in a marketplace that had been reduced by 1/3 of its capacity — leaving the banks in control of  $7 trillion per year in what was counted as gross domestic product. Our primary output by far was trading paper based upon dubious and fictitious underlying transactions; if those transactions had existed, the share of GDP attributed to financial services would have remained at a constant 16%. Instead it grew to half of GDP.  The “paradox” of financial services becoming increasingly powerful and generating more revenues than any other sector while the rest of the economy was stagnating was noted by many, but nothing was done. The truth of this “paradox” is that it was a lie — a grand illusion created by the greatest salesmen on Wall Street.

So even minimum wage lost 1/3 of its value adjusted for inflation while salaries, profits and bonuses were conferred upon people deemed as financial geniuses as a natural consequence of believing the myths promulgated by Wall Street with its control over all forms of information, including information from the government.

But calling out Wall Street would mean admitting that the United States had made a wrong turn with horrendous results. No longer the supreme leader in education, medical care, crime, safety, happiness and most of all prospects for social and economic mobility, the United States had become supreme only through its military strength and the appearance of strength in the world of high finance, its currency being the world’s reserve despite the reality of the ailing economy and widening inequality of wealth and opportunity — the attributes of a banana republic.

All of us remember the great crash of 2008-2009. It was as close as could be imagined to a world wide nuclear attack, resulting in the apparent collapse of economies, tens of millions of people being reduced to poverty, tossed out of their homes, sleeping in cars, divorces, murder, riots, suicide and the loss of millions of jobs on a rising scale (over 700,000 per month when Obama took office) that did not stop rising until 2010 and which has yet to be corrected to figures that economists say would mean that our economy is functioning at proper levels. Month after month more than 700,000 people lost their jobs instead of a net gain of 300,000 jobs. It was a reversal of 1 million jobs per month that could clean out the country and every myth about us in less than a year.

The cause lay with misbehavior of the banks — again. This time the destruction was so wide and so deep that all conditions necessary for the collapse of our society and our government were present. Policy makers, law enforcement and regulators decided that it was better to maintain the illusion of business as usual in a last ditch effort to maintain the fabric of our society even if it meant that guilty people would go free and even be rewarded. It was a decision that was probably correct at the time given the available information, but it was a policy based upon an inaccurate description of the disaster written and produced by the banks themselves. Once the true information was discovered the government made another wrong turn — staying the course when the threat of collapse was over. In a sense it was worse than giving Nazi war criminals asylum because at the time they were protected by the Department of Justice their crimes were complete and there existed little opportunity for them to repeat those crimes. It could be fairly stated that they posed no existing threat to safety of the country. Not so for the banks.

Now as all the theft, deceit and arrogance are revealed, the original premise of the DOJ in granting the immunity from prosecution was based upon fraudulent information from the very people to whom they were granting safe passage. We have lost 5 million homes in foreclosure from their past crimes, but we remain in the midst of the commission of crimes — another 5 million illegal, wrongful foreclosures is continuing to wind its way through the courts.

Not one person has been prosecuted, not one statement has been made acknowledging the crimes, the continuing deceit in sworn filings with regulators, and the continuing drain on the economy and our ability to finance and capitalize on innovation to replace the lost productivity in real goods and services.

We are still in the death grip of the banks as they attempt to portray themselves as the bulwarks of society even as they continue to rob us of homes, lives, jobs and vitally needed capital which is being channeled into natural resources so that when we commence the gargantuan task of repairing our infrastructure we can no longer afford it and must borrow the money from the thieves who created the gaping hole in our economy threatening the soul of our democracy. If the crimes were in the rear view mirror one could argue that the policy makers could make decisions to protect our future. But the crimes are not just in the rear view mirror. More crimes lie ahead with the theft of an equal number of millions of homes based on false and wrongful foreclosures deriving their legitimacy from an illusion of debt — an illusion so artfully created that most people still believe the debts exist. Without a very sophisticated knowledge of exotic finance it seems inconceivable that a homeowner could receive the benefits of a loan and at the same time or shortly thereafter have the debt extinguished by third parties who were paid richly for doing so.

Job creation would be unleashed if we had the courage to stop the continuing fraud. It is time for the government to step forward and call them out, stop the virtual genocide and let the chips fall where they might when the paper giants collapse. It’s complicated, but that is your job. Few people lack the understanding that the bankers behind this mess belong in jail. This includes regulators, law enforcement and even judges. but the “secret” tacit message is not to mess with the status quo until we are sure it won’t topple our whole society and economy.

The time is now. If we leave the bankers alone they are highly likely to cause another crash in both financial instruments and economically by hoarding natural resources until the prices are intolerably high and we all end up pleading for payment terms on basic raw materials for the rebuilding of infrastructure. If we leave them alone another 20 million people will be displaced as more than 5 million foreclosures get processed in the next 3-4 years. If we leave them alone, we are allowing a clear and present danger to the future of our society and the prospects for safety and world peace. Don’t blame Wall Street — they are just doing what they were sent to do — make money. You don’t hold the soldier responsible for firing a bullet when he was ordered to do so. But you do blame the policy makers that him or her there. And you stop them when the policy is threatening another crash.

Stop them now, jail the ones who can be prosecuted, and take apart the large banks. IMF economists and central bankers around the world are looking on in horror at the new order of things hoping that when the United States has exhausted all other options, they will finally do the right thing. (see Winston Churchill quote to that effect).

But forget not that the ultimate power of government is in the hands of the people at large and that the regulators and law enforcement and judges are working for us, on our nickle. Action like Occupy Wall Street is required and you can see the growing nature of that movement in a sweep that is entirely missed by those who arrogantly pull the levers of power now. OWS despite criticism is proving the point — it isn’t new leaders that will get us out of this — it is the withdrawal of consent of the governed one by one without political affiliation or worshiping sound sound biting, hate mongering politicians.

People have asked me why I have not until now endorsed the OWS movement. The reason was that I wanted to give them time to see if they could actually accomplish the counter-intuitive result of exercising power without direct involvement in a corrupt political process. They have proven the point and they are likely to be a major force undermining the demagogues and greedy bankers and businesses who care more about their bottom line than their society that gives them the opportunity to earn that bottom line.

New Fraud Evidence Shows Trillions Of Dollars In Mortgages Have No Owner
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/13/2460891/new-fraud-evidence-shows-trillions-of-dollars-in-mortgages-have-no-owner/

Living Lies/Neil Garfield on Georgia

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/wake-up-georgia-courts-are-opening-the-door-on-wrongful-foreclosure/

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/wake-up-georgia-courts-are-opening-the-door-on-wrongful-foreclosure/

Wake Up Georgia: Courts Are Opening the Door on Wrongful Foreclosure

Posted on March 15, 2013 by Neil Garfield

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE IN GEORGIA

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 (East Coast, including Georgia – the Atlanta Area) and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.

The selection of an attorney is an important decision and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

Editor’s Note: For years Georgia has been considered by most attorneys to be a “red” state that, along with states like Tennessee showed no mercy on borrowers because of the prejudgment that the foreclosure mess was the fault of borrowers. For years they have ignored the now obvious truth that the defective mortgages and wrongful foreclosures do make a difference.

Now, reflecting inquiries from Courts below who are studying the the issue instead of issuing orders based upon a knee-jerk response, the State has taken a decided turn toward the application of law over presumption and bias. There is even reason to believe that the door is open a crack for past wrongful foreclosures, as the Courts grapple with the fact that thousands of foreclosures were forced through the system by strangers to the transaction and thousands of wrongful foreclosure suits have been dismissed because of the assumption by judges that no bank would lie directly to the court. It was a big lie and apparently the banks were right in thinking there was little risk to them.

Look at Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law February/ March Issue for an article on “Foreclosure Law in the Wake of Recent Decisions on Residential Mortgage Loans: The Situation in Georgia” by Ashby Kent Fox, Shea Sullivan and Amanda Wilson. Our own lawyers have out in front on these issues for a couple of years but encountering a lot of resistance — although lately they are reporting that the Courts are listening more closely.

The Georgia Supreme Court has now weighed in (Reese v Provident) and decided quite obviously that something is rotten in Georgia. Focusing on Georgia’s foreclosure notice statute but actually speaking to the substantive defects in the mortgages and foreclosures, the majority held, as a matter of law, that

o.c.G.a. § 44-14- 162.2(a), requires the person or entity conducting a non-judicial foreclosure of a residential mortgage loan to provide the borrower/debtor with a written notice of the foreclosure sale that discloses not only “the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or entity who shall have full authority to negotiate, amend, and modify all terms of the mortgage with the debtor” (the language that appears in the statute), but also the identity of the “secured creditor” (not required by the statutory language, but which the majority inferred based on legislative intent). the majority further found that the failure to identify the “secured creditor” in the foreclosure notice renders the notice, and any subsequent foreclosure sale, invalid as a matter of law.

Once again I caution litigators that this will not dispose of your case permanently and that such rulings be used strategically so that you are not another hallway lawyer explaining how you were right but the judge ruled against you anyway. Notice provisions can be cured, non-existent transactions cannot be cured. Leading with the numbers (the money trail” and THEN using decisions like this to corroborate your argument will get you a lot more traction than leading with defective paperwork.

As I have said repeatedly, no judge, no matter how sympathetic to borrowers is going to give much relief when the borrower has admitted the debt, note, mortgage and default. These must be denied and lawyers should study up on the subject as to why they can and should be denied, and to persevere through discovery to show that the note, mortgage, default and even the debt have all been faked by strangers to the transaction.

Forcing the opposing side to show that they are a bona fide holder FOR VALUE will flush out the truth — that originator in nearly all cases was never the lender, creditor or even broker. They were simply paid naked nominees just like MERS, leaving no real party in interest on the note or mortgage, no consideration between the parties stated on the note and mortgage or notice of default, and no meeting of minds between the real lender (who is NOT in privity with the nominee lender) who, as an investor received a prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement and advanced money under the mistaken belief they were buying bonds of an entity that either did not exist or was simply ignored by the investment banker and the other participants in the false securitization scheme that was used to cover-up a PONZI scheme.

Practice tips: DENY and DISCOVER. Ask for proof of payment and proof of loss. The assignments, the note and the mortgage are not proof of the debt, they are potentially evidence of the debt and the security agreement ONLY if the foundation is there (testimony by witness with personal knowledge, with exhibits of wire transfer receipts and wire transfer instructions, cancelled checks etc.) to show that the originator shown as payee and “Secured party” or “beneficiary” was lender of money.

Make them show that they booked the loan as a receivable with a reserve for default. Discover that they actually booked the transaction as a fee for service (shown on the income statement) and never entered it on their balance sheet.

And PLEASE study up on voir dire, objections and cross examination. If you are not quick and ready objections to leading questions and other issues might well be waived unless you interrupt the questioning as fast as you can stand up. If you study up on hearsay and the business records exception to hearsay you will discover that in practically no case were the business records qualified as exceptions to the hearsay rule. But if you don’t raise it, if you don’t have statutory and case law and even a memo on the subject the judge is going to rule against you. We are talking about good lawyering here and not bias amongst judges.

Land Records, Foreclosures, tax evasion

It is no secret that the foreclosure hell sweeping the country has resulted in a nightmare from hell. 

The land records of the past 300 years is in peril, as is your right to know who owns your Note, and who you are obligated to make your payments to.

There is an important Petition to sign to help your county keep the records in order.  It is one of the only safeguards that you, as a borrower have against the banksters.

Click the link, there are 100,000 signatures needed!

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/mandated-national-land-record-audit.html

DOC X IN HOT WATER AGAIN!!!

STATE OF MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL
BILL SCHUETTE FILES CRIMINAL CHARGES
AGAINST FORMER MORTGAGE PROCESSOR
PRESIDENT FOR ROLE IN FRAUDULENT
ROBOSIGNING
http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-46849_47203-290350–,00.html

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November 26, 2012

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he charged Lorraine Brown, former president of mortgage document processor DocX, with racketeering for her alleged role in authorizing the fraudulent signing of mortgage documents filed in Michigan. The felony charge comes as the result
of an ongoing Attorney General investigation into questionable mortgage documentation filed with Michigan’s Register of Deeds offices during the foreclosure crisis.
“Shortcuts like robo-signing are just one piece of the mortgage foreclosure crisis,” said Schuette. “Our investigation remains ongoing, and we will bring to justice every lawbreaker we find.”
In April 2011, Schuette launched an investigation after county officials across the state reported that they suspected Assignment of Mortgage documents filed in their offices may have been forged. A “60 Minutes” news broadcast had shown that the name “Linda Green” was signed to thousands of mortgage-related documents nationwide, but with many different variations in handwriting. County officials in Michigan reviewed their files and found similar documents, thus raising questions about the authenticity of the documents filed.
As part of his investigation, Schuette reviewed documents filed in Michigan and prepared by DocX, a document processing company located in Georgia. DocX processed mortgage assignments and lien releases for residential lenders and servicers nationwide. Schuette’s investigation revealed that former DocX president Lorraine Brown, 51, of Alpharetta, Georgia, allegedly established and orchestrated a widespread scheme of “robo-signing,” a practice in which employees were directed to fraudulently sign another authorized person’s name on mortgage documents in order to execute these documents as quickly as possible.
Internally, DocX identified this practice as “facsimile signing” or “surrogate signing.” Schuette alleges that from 2006 through 2009, these improperly executed documents were created and recorded at Brown’s direction. Schuette’s investigation revealed that more than 1,000 unauthorized and improperly executed documents were filed with county registers of deeds throughout Michigan.
Lorraine Brown has been charged with one count of Conducting Criminal Enterprises (Racketeering), a 20-year felony, in Kent County’s 61st District Court. Arrangements are being made for Brown to surrender to Michigan authorities, and arraignment will be scheduled at a later date.
In 2010, DocX suspended operations, halting its work as a mortgage document processor. Schuette noted that while the criminal charges against Brown address her role in the scheme, his office’s overall investigation into robosigning remains ongoing and is not yet complete.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are
presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

DeBord Report : California is going through another ‘wave’ in foreclosures | 89.3 KPCC

 

California is going through another ‘wave’ in foreclosures

By Matthew DeBord

http://www.scpr.org/blogs/economy/2012/07/12/7025/california-going-through-another-wave-foreclosures/

Foreclosures Spike As Banks Accelerate Loan Default Notices

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A for sale sign is posted in front of house in Glendale. California saw foreclosure starts pick up in June, suggesting that a new wave of defaults is underway.

For the first six months of 2012, foreclosures in California declined from the same period a year earlier. But RealtyTrac, an Irvine-based company that specializes in tracking foreclosures, reports that the state still has the fourth highest foreclosure rate in the nation. In fact, in June, default notices sent to homeowners increased from May. And year-over-year, California’s rate of foreclosure starts increased 18 percent, making it the top state for the month, the first time that California has held that slot since 2005.

I talked to RealtyTrac vice-president Daren Blomquist. He said that states with the worst foreclosure rates have remained consistent during the housing crisis. The top five haven’t moved around a lot: it’s Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, California, and Florida. He noted that the only surprise was that Georgia has moved into the top four and that Florida has slipped.

Foreclosure filings in California fell by about 11 percent in the second quarter of 2012. But in June foreclosure moved up a bit more than 12 percent over May.

Blomquist said we’ve seen this pattern before in California. He calls it a “foreclosure wave” and expects the pattern to continue, as banks cope with the national mortgage settlement that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday and avoid flooding the market with foreclosures. Blomquist’s interpretation is that banks will work through their foreclosures gradually, so we’ll see activity ebb and flow.

“Lenders are looking at their loan portfolios and figuring out how many mortgages to set aside for modification,” he said. The banks are determining which ones likely won’t qualify and sending out notices of default, the first stage of the foreclosure process, to homeowners.

Regardless of how these waves are paced, the foreclosure crisis isn’t going away any time soon. At the current rate, Blomquist expects it to take until late 2013 or early 2014 before the country’s million-and-half foreclosures are in the rearview mirror.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.

Tagged: realtytrac, notice of default, foreclosures, california, California

DeBord Report : California is going through another ‘wave’ in foreclosures | 89.3 KPCC

Daily Report: Robin Hood lawyer fights foreclosures with a passion

 

http://www.dailyreportonline.com/PubArticleFriendlyDRO.jsp?id=1202559725985

‘Robin Hood’ lawyer fights foreclosures with a passion

Katheryn Hayes Tucker

Daily Report

06-18-2012

For 34 years, Robert Thompson Jr. had been a business and labor lawyer — as was his father before him — defending corporations and financial institutions and even serving on several banks’ boards of directors.

But something happened to him two and half years ago that changed his entire practice. Now, he challenges banks and financial institutions in court, accusing them of wrongful foreclosure and outright fraud on behalf of individuals who are a step away from losing their homes.

The turning point for Thompson came at Christmas time, 2009. His mortgage servicer — with whom he had been embroiled in disputes over what he said were misapplied or lost checks, late fees for payments that had been made on time, unnecessary insurance costs and double billings for taxes — moved to foreclose on his home.

“I was a single father with three young children living with me in that house,” the silver-haired Thompson said during an interview in his Buckhead Thompson Law Group office filled with books about the financial industry and the economic crisis. “It was very upsetting.”

But, he added, “I was the wrong person to pick on about injunctions and bank law.”

On Dec. 28, 2009, he went before Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger, asking for an order enjoining the mortgage company from proceeding with the foreclosure. The judge’s first question was, “How much do you owe?” Thompson recalled.

“I told him I didn’t owe anything, that my payments had all been made on time, and that in fact they owed me more than $50,000 in overpayments and mystery fees,” Thompson recalled.

“Can you prove it?” the judge asked.

Thompson recalled he pointed the judge to canceled checks and FedEx receipts, and the judge granted Thompson’s injunction. Thompson filed a lawsuit against his loan servicer for mortgage fraud and abuse, wrongful foreclosure, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, conversion, misrepresentation, defamation, libel and deceit.

“People started talking about it,” Thompson said. “I thought it was just me, but then people started calling saying they had the same problem and wanting to know if I could help them.”

Now, Thompson is a man obsessed. And he said he’s had success halting foreclosures — but acknowledged securing such an injunction for a client is only the first step.

Thompson said he still has new clients coming to his office daily. Most don’t have the exact situation as his, where the payments were current but not applied to the account. The biggest percentage, he said, are struggling because of a loss of income and are seeking loan modifications to make payments more manageable, but were told by their mortgage holder they weren’t eligible either because they weren’t behind or far enough behind.

Thompson said being behind on mortgage payments isn’t a requirement of federally funded modification programs. But, on the assumption that it was, he said, his clients missed payments in hopes of qualifying for modifications, then found themselves in foreclosure with their lender refusing to accept more payments. Thompson calls that being “lured into default.”

Out of hundreds of cases he’s reviewed in the past two and a half years, he said, there wasn’t a single one where he didn’t find fraud or at least errors in the records. So far, he said, he has not yet been able to say to a homeowner, “I can’t help you because the bank did everything right.”

Bank representatives say it’s absurd to suggest banks want to foreclose if there are other options. They admit some paperwork mistakes happen but suggest it’s not right to make those a basis for loan forgiveness.

Meanwhile, Thompson is ordering up forensic audits — at a minimum of $1,000 each — to ferret out problems so that he can go to court to block foreclosures. A forensic auditing company analyzes the loan activity and tracks the transfers of deed and title as the loan has been sold by one financial company to another — and sometimes to several others.

Sometimes, Thompson said, he finds the foreclosing lender has already sold the note and collected the balance, and thus doesn’t have the legal right to foreclose. Often Thompson finds what he calls a “break in the chain of title” because the deed and the note have not been kept together in the transactions, which he said is illegal.

He can’t charge the homeowners the hourly rates he used to bill his corporate clients. Some can hardly pay anything. Occasionally, he said, he just offers free advice on how to fight a foreclosure pro se. Most of the time he negotiates a flat fee varying in amounts according to the work that needs to be done and the client’s ability to pay. “I have to make it affordable or they can’t do it,” he said. “But I can’t do it for free.”

He is especially busy the week before the first Tuesday of every month, when crowds gather on the courthouse steps for the auctioning of foreclosed homes. This month alone, he went to court for 25 injunctions to stop foreclosures.

Asked how many he won, he said, “All of them. But the injunction is only the first step.”

The next step varies, but often includes lawsuits against the lenders or servicers who initiated the foreclosure.

Lender representatives said Thompson’s charges about banks’ motivations don’t make sense.

“Do you really think the lender wants that house back?” asked Mo Thrash, a lobbyist for the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia and McCalla Raymer, a law firm with offices in Georgia that represents lenders. “It is absolutely ridiculous to think the lender would want the home back.”

Thrash said the conventional wisdom — that the best outcome for the lender is for the homeowner to make all their payments until the loan is paid in full — is still true, maybe more so now because of falling real estate prices and difficulty in selling homes. “I admit mistakes do happen, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority of these cases are a two-way street,” he said. “It takes two to tango.”

The majority of mortgage banks — 99 percent — are ethical and honest, Thrash added. To suggest otherwise, he said, is “absolutely crazy.”

If the personal foreclosure experiences of Thompson and some of his clients are as they described them, “It was a mistake,” said J.D. Crowe, senior vice president of Southeast Mortgage of Georgia Inc. and a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Georgia Board of Governors.

“If that’s the case, that’s why he won an injunction and will probably win his lawsuit. With the number of foreclosures in the last few years, there’s a lot of paper going back and forth,” Crowe said.

But like Thrash, Crowe said it’s “ridiculous” to suggest that a lender would want to foreclose if there were an alternative. “Lenders want to work with borrowers. They don’t want to foreclose,” he said.

Crowe also suggested that when homeowners win their foreclosure fights, they usually win on a technicality — a mistake in the paperwork or the separation of the deed and note in the selling of the loan by one financial institution to another. In such cases, if homeowners win damages or loan forgiveness, allowing them to walk away from their mortgage payments, said Crowe, “I think it is unconscionable.”

Disbelief, said Thompson, is the biggest challenge he faces in fighting foreclosure fraud. “People who have never suffered through it cannot believe it. It challenges the fundamentals of everything you want to believe about the banks being honest and the government protecting you.”

He cited the case of client LaVonda DeWitt, a patent lawyer whose income was reduced because her firm’s revenue dropped. In an interview, she said she contacted her mortgage company to discuss a loan modification so she could lower her payments.

“They said I wasn’t eligible because I still had a job,” she said.

Then she was laid off. She called her lender again about the modification and was told she wasn’t eligible because didn’t have a job. She said she was also told she wasn’t eligible unless she was three months behind. She stopped making payments in December 2010. She also filed a complaint with the U.S. Treasury Department over being denied a loan modification. The lender responded with a document she had never seen saying she had been offered a modification and rejected it, but later admitted that claim was a mistake, according to DeWitt. She still wasn’t offered a modification. She received a foreclosure notice in March of this year.

She met with Thompson, who went to court with her to block the sale on the first Tuesday in April. She won the injunction but still wasn’t able to negotiate a loan modification. So, on Thompson’s advice, she filed a lawsuit in federal court.

DeWitt said Thompson reminds her of the fictional Atticus Finch, taking on jobs that other lawyers don’t want.

Another client of Thompson’s, Patricia Sibley, won an injunction a year ago, then filed a lawsuit against the lender for wrongful foreclosure. The suit is pending in the Northern District of Georgia. Sibley and her husband are still in their home — “because of Bob Thompson,” she said.

As with DeWitt, Sibley’s suit is based on what Thompson calls “luring into default.” When the recession hit and slashed revenue for her advertising company, Sibley said she had to close her business. She and her husband had paid down by half their $950,000 15-year mortgage on their north Atlanta home near the Chattahoochee River, and their payments were current, she said in an interview.

She contacted the lender to ask about changing the terms to lower the payments. Since they still had some income, they felt they could afford the loan if they could spread it back to 30 years. They were told they weren’t eligible for a modification because they weren’t behind. They skipped one payment and called again, but were told they were not far enough behind to be eligible, according to Sibley and the lawsuit. After the third missed payment, they received a foreclosure notice. They tried to talk to the lender’s customer service department many times and offered to pay the loan current and cover fees in return for restructuring, she said, but heard no response.

The house was advertised for foreclosure. The weekend before the first Tuesday in June 2011, cars were driving by the house and stopping to take pictures, Sibley said. It was an experience she said she wouldn’t wish on anyone.

A friend called and said she had a friend who knew someone who might be able to help — Thompson. The friend said, “I have somebody who’s like Robin Hood. He takes from the banks and gives to the poor.”

“Not that we’re the poor,” Sibley added. But, she said, “I never would have dreamed I’d be in this position.”

Sibley’s case is unresolved, but Thompson was able to get an injunction to prevent foreclosure while it’s pending.

McCurdy & Candler, which has offices in Decatur and Atlanta, handled Sibley’s foreclosure for PNC Mortgage, as well as DeWitt’s foreclosure for Chase. Managing partner Sidney Gelernter said the firm couldn’t comment on any pending case or even discuss foreclosures generally. Sibley’s suit is being defended by Ballard Spahr. One of the lawyers working on the case in Atlanta, Christopher Willis, said the firm couldn’t comment on any matter involving any of its clients.

Sibley’s lawsuit is against National City Mortgage Company, National City Bank, PNC Mortgage, Bank of America and unidentified investors. Sibley said she tried repeatedly to find out the identity of the investors who now own the loan — in order to work out payment terms — but PNC, the servicer, wouldn’t tell her.

A spokeswoman for PNC said the company couldn’t comment on any lawsuit. “We do work with customers,” said Amy Vargo, noting modification programs described on the PNC website.

In his own personal case, Thompson sued BAC Home Loans Servicing, which is a subsidiary of Bank of America, and Bank of New York Mellon, formerly known as Bank of New York, successor in interest to JP Morgan Chase Bank. Bank of America acquired Countrywide Mortgage Company, which was Thompson’s loan servicer. Thompson’s lawsuit names four companies that owned his note successively. Thompson’s case — which he has withdrawn for now — was defended by Monica Gilroy of Alpharetta’s Dickenson Gilroy, who said she couldn’t discuss it.

The foreclosing firm in Thompson’s case was Shuping, Morse & Ross, based in Riverdale. Neither the managing partner, Sheltan Andrew Shuping Jr., nor the lawyer who handled the foreclosure, Kevin Duda, could be reached for comment.

Thompson’s lawsuit — moved from Fulton Superior Court to federal district court in Atlanta — seeks damages for overpayments and unauthorized fees, harassment and injury to his credit and reputation, naming a figure of $5 million.

Thompson said he has stopped making mortgage payments, and BAC has stopped trying to foreclose. He moved to withdraw his complaint, while keeping the door open to refiling it later, and the judge agreed. He said he believes the courts are evolving in their understanding of foreclosure fraud, and he plans to reinitiate the suit at a time that will be advantageous. For now, he said, “It’s an armed truce.”

Thompson’s case in federal court is Thompson v. BAC Home Loans, No. 1:10-CV-3205-TCB.

Sibley’s case in federal court is Sibley v. National City Mortgage Co., No. 1:12-cv-00305-SCJ-JFK.

Daily Report: Robin Hood lawyer fights foreclosures with a passion

Certified Forensic Loan Auditors, LLC | AG Biden Says $25B Settlement Not the End, Securitization Next

 

AG Biden Says $25B Settlement Not the End, Securitization Next

mortgagenewsdaily.com | May 16, 2012

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said recently that the states’ attorneys general need to make it clear that the recent $25 billion settlement with five major banks is the beginning not the end of their enforcement actions.   Biden, speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe said the savings and loan crisis cost the economy $168 billion and 1,000 people went to jail.  “This crisis, which was man made,” he said, “cost the economy trillions and I can’t really find anyone who has been held accountable.”

Show co-host Willie Geist asked Biden who he was focusing on, who did he think should be in jail?  Biden said one area he, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and others are looking at is the securitization aspect, “whether or not there were false securities, mortgage-backed securities, sold to investors.  That affects borrowers as well.”

He noted that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster recently indicted DOCX and its CEO Lorraine Brown.  This is relevant, Biden said, because this woman has become famous, on 60 Minutes and so forth, because she signed thousands upon thousands of foreclosure affidavits.  “Chris Costner indicted her for forgery.  That’s the kinds of thing we need to begin to do.”  He said that investigations need to go beyond robo-signing and that people must be held accountable.  “People are angry,” he said.  “Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers and 99 Percenters are all angry that no one has been held accountable for something they know is obviously fraught.  And that’s my job as AG.”

Certified Forensic Loan Auditors, LLC | AG Biden Says $25B Settlement Not the End, Securitization Next

About Us | Foreclosure Defense Nationwide – Mortgage Foreclosure Help – Free Advice

 

Jeff Barnes

WILLIAM JEFF BARNES, ESQ.

Jeff is the founder of the Foreclosure Defense Nationwide (FDN) website and blog. His law practice is primarily oriented towards defense of foreclosure actions throughout the United States, with his Firm having represented victims of foreclosure and predatory lending practices with local counsel where required in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Jeff has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1988 and is also a member of the Colorado Bar, first admitted in 1990. Before concentrating full-time on foreclosure defense, he had been previously admitted to practice in several state courts, including the Superior Court for the State of New Jersey (Atlantic City); the Hennepin County Circuit Court (Minnesota); the Norfolk Superior Court (Commonwealth of Massachusetts); the Circuit Civil Court of Walker County, Alabama; and the Superior Court for the State of California (Orange County).

He is also admitted to several Federal Courts, including the United States District Court for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits. Jeff has been previously admitted to practice pro hac vice in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota (Duluth); the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Newark); the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming; and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose Division), and is currently admitted pro hac vice to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Eastern Division); the United States District Court for the District of Oregon (Portland Division); the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington; and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville Division).

Jeff has been admitted pro hac vice to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division (numerous counties, including Atlantic, Ocean, Monmouth, Morris, Glouster, Burlington, and Passaic); the Superior Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Plymouth); the Superior Court for Flathead County (Montana); the Superior Court of Coweta County (Georgia); the Superior Court of Washington (Ferry County); the District Court for Kootenai and Bonner Counties (Idaho); Hancock County Superior Court (Indiana); Iowa District Court (Greene County); Kern County Superior Court (California); San Bernadino County Superior Court (California); Washetenaw County (Michigan); Mahoning County (Ohio); Maricopa County Superior Court (Arizona); Pima County Superior Court (Arizona); the Hawaii First District Court (Honolulu); the Hawaii Second District Court (Maui); the Kenosha County Court (Wisconsin); The Superior Court for Washington County, Vermont; the Circuit Courts of Oregon (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Crook Counties); and the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit (Winnebago County, Illinois); all such admissions and applications being in connection with foreclosure defense litigation representing borrowers. Mr. Barnes does not represent any banks, “lenders”, servicers, trustees of securitized mortgage loan trusts, trustee sale companies, or any others who seek to foreclose.

Jeff has spent over twenty-two years litigating throughout the United States in the areas of business tort litigation, contract litigation, insurance litigation (coverage, claims, premium fraud defense, and Unfair and Deceptive Insurance Practices), fraud litigation, real estate litigation, and Administrative proceedings involving defense of chiropractors in disciplinary proceedings, and appeals in deportation proceedings following the enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act. His practice includes both trials (jury and non-jury) and appeals at both the state and Federal level, and opposing Proofs of Claim and Stay relief Motions in Bankruptcy proceedings involving foreclosure issues. Jeff has also been a Certified Mediator and Arbitrator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, and also previously obtained status as a Qualified Neutral in the State of Minnesota.

After graduating from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with a degree in Experimental Psychology, Jeff obtained a Master of Science degree in Education and his Juris Doctor (law) degrees from the University of Miami (Florida). Between graduation from college and prior to law school, Jeff was a public and private school teacher in Miami, Florida, having taught elementary, junior, and senior high students, as well as serving as an assistant adjunct professor at Florida International University in the areas of Behavioral Science Statistics and Preventive Law to Master’s and Doctoral candidates. While in law school, Jeff served as a prosecutor in the Office of the State Attorney in Miami, Florida during law school.

FDN handles foreclosure defense matters in both judicial and non-judicial (trustee) jurisdictions and is affiliated with securitized trust auditors and investigators; mortgage loan auditors, certified fraud examiners, and paralegals who conduct a wide-ranging review of mortgage documents to ascertain any violations of Federal lending laws, loan tracking rhrough securitizations, applicable insurances, and other issues. Amortgage loan examination or audit is strongly recommended for anyone seeking to defend a foreclosure action. FDN will provide contact information for an auditor or loan examiner upon request made through our “Contact Us” link.

FDN’s local counsel network currently embraces thirty-nine (39) separate law Firms throughout the United States and continues to grow.

About Us | Foreclosure Defense Nationwide – Mortgage Foreclosure Help – Free Advice

California asks for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac foreclosure hiatus | Share on LinkedIn

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Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris

California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris during a visit last year to the East L.A. Community Corp. in Boyle Hights on a tour highlighting her work cracking down on unfair mortgage practices. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

By Alejandro Lazo

February 27, 2012, 2:55 p.m.

California’s attorney general has asked for a suspension of foreclosures on loans controlled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris in a letter asked the regulator of the government-controlled mortgage titans to halt foreclosures in California until the agency has completed a “thorough, transparent analysis of whether principal reduction is in the best interests of struggling homeowners as well as taxpayers.”

It is not the first time that Harris has tangled with the giants — last year she sued the two mortgage giants after they refused to answer subpoenas regarding their mortgage and foreclosure practices. That case remains pending.

Harris has also called on Edward DeMarco, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency that regulates Fannie and Freddie, to step down, accusing him of not doing enough for borrowers.

Harris’ request for a foreclosure pause comes on the heels of a multistate mortgage settlement that will require the nation’s largest mortgage servicers to reduce principal for certain borrowers. California has secured $12 billion in principal reduction and short sales from those banks, but Fannie and Freddie are not part of that deal.

Harris’ office sees the two giants as key to getting the housing market back on track, estimating that more than 60% of outstanding loans in the Golden State are controlled by them. But DeMarco has resisted principal reductions, which is the writing-down of mortgages of borrowers, arguing that the results of those reductions are not worth the costs.

The FHFA has overseen Fannie and Freddie since the two mortgage giants were placed under government control in 2008 as the financial crisis picked up steam. Calls to the agency were not returned.

GA Supreme Court: Security Deeds That Lack of Attestation in GA

Recorded Security Deed which lacks attestations does not provide constructive notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers
Posted on April 8, 2011 by Fletcher Jim

In US Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Gordon, Case No. S10Q1564 (Ga. march 25, 2011), the Georgia Supreme Court answered in the negative the following certified question from the United States District Court for the North District of Georgia: The question is whether the 1995 Amendment to OCGA § 44-14-33 (See Ga. L. 1995, p. 1076, § 1) means that, in the absence of fraud, a security deed that is actually filed and recorded, and accurately indexed, on the appropriate county land records provides constructive notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers, where the security deed contains the grantor’s signature but lacks both an official and unofficial attestation (i.e., lacks attestation by a notary public and also an unofficial witness).

The Supreme Court reasoned that, under OC.G.A. § 44-14-33, “to admit a security deed to record, the deed must be attested by or acknowledged before an officer, such as a notary public, and, in the case of real property, by a second witness”, and that a” deed that shows on its face that it was “not properly attested or acknowledged, as required by statute, is ineligible for recording.”

The Court then approved the Bankruptcy Court’s holding:
under the 1995 Amendment, a security deed with a facially defective attestation would not provide constructive notice, while a security deed with a facially proper but latently defective attestation would provide constructive notice.

The absence of attestations at all being a facial (not latent) defect, the mere fact of recording does not give constructive notice to a purchaser because a contrary rule would “shift to the subsequent bona fide purchaser and everyone else the burden of determining [possibly decades after the fact] the genuineness of the grantor’s signature and therefore the cost of investigating and perhaps litigating whether or not an unattested deed was in fact signed by the grantor.”

The full text of the decision is as follows:

Case: US Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Gordon
Court: Georgia Supreme Court
 Case No: S10Q1564
Date: March 25, 2011

Text: NAHMIAS, Justice.

The Honorable Supreme Court met pursuant to adjournment.

The following order was passed:

It appearing that the enclosed opinion decides a second-term appeal, which must be concluded by the end of the April term on April 14, 2011, it is ordered that a motion for reconsideration, if any, must be filed and received in the Clerk’s office by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 28, 2011.

The United States District Court for the North District of Georgia has certified a question to this Court regarding the 1995 Amendment to OCGA § 44-14-33. See Ga. L. 1995, p. 1076, § 1. The question is whether the 1995 Amendment means that, in the absence of fraud, a security deed that is actually filed and recorded, and accurately indexed, on the appropriate county land records provides constructive notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers, where the security deed contains the grantor’s signature but lacks both an official and unofficial attestation (i.e., lacks attestation by a notary public and also an unofficial witness).
For the reasons that follow, we answer the certified question in the negative.

1. In October 2005, Bertha Hagler refinanced her residence through the predecessor-in-interest to U.S. Bank National Association (U.S. Bank) and granted the predecessor a first and a second security deed to her residence. The security deeds were recorded with the Clerk of the Fulton County Superior Court in November 2005, but the first security deed was not attested or acknowledged by an official or unofficial witness. According to the district court’s certification order:
Gordon, the Chapter 7 Trustee in Hagler’s bankruptcy case, sought to avoid or set aside the valid, but unattested, first security deed to the residence through the “strong-arm” power of Section 544 (a) (3) of the Bankruptcy Code. See 11 U.S.C. § 544 (a) (3). Gordon argued that under the proper interpretation of § 44-14-33 of the Georgia Code, a security deed that is not attested by an official and unofficial witness cannot provide constructive notice to a subsequent purchaser even if it is recorded. U.S. Bank argued, in opposition, that a 1995 amendment to § 44-14-33 changed the law to enable an unattested security deed to provide constructive notice. Gordon argued in response that the 1995 amendment served only to recognize constructive notice from a security deed with a “latently” defective attestation, meaning an irregular attestation that appears regular on its face; a deed with a “patently” defective attestation, meaning an attestation that is obviously defective on its face, would not provide constructive notice.
 The bankruptcy court ruled in Gordon’s favor, concluding that, under the 1995 Amendment, a security deed with a facially defective attestation would not provide constructive notice, while a security deed with a facially proper but latently defective attestation would provide constructive notice. See Gordon v. U.S. Bank Natl. Assn. (In re Hagler) , 429 BR 42, 47-53 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 2009). Concluding that the issue involved an unclear question of Georgia law and that no Georgia court had addressed the issue after the 1995 Amendment, the district court certified the question to this Court. We conclude that the bankruptcy court properly resolved the issue.
 2. OCGA § 44-14-61 provides that “[i]n order to admit deeds to secure debt . . . to record, they shall be attested or proved in the manner prescribed by law for mortgages.” OCGA § 44-14-33 provides the law for attesting mortgages:
 In order to admit a mortgage to record, it must be attested by or acknowledged before an officer as prescribed for the attestation or acknowledgment of deeds of bargain and sale; and, in the case of real property, a mortgage must also be attested or acknowledged by one additional witness. In the absence of fraud, if a mortgage is duly filed, recorded, and indexed on the appropriate county land records, such recordation shall be deemed constructive notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers.
The second sentence of this Code section was added by the 1995 Amendment.
 3. We first address Gordon’s contention that the 1995 Amendment does not apply at all to security deeds. He contends that only the first sentence of § 44-14-33, which expressly deals with attestation, is applicable to security deeds through § 44-14-61 and that, because the 1995 Amendment addresses constructive notice, it does not apply to security deeds. We disagree. The General Assembly chose to enact the 1995 Amendment not as a freestanding Code provision but as an addition to a Code provision clearly referenced by § 44-14-61. Moreover, “[t]he objects of a mortgage and security deed . . . under the provisions of the Code are identical —security for a debt. While recognizing the technical difference between a mortgage and security deed hereinbefore pointed out, this court has treated deeds to secure debts . . . as equitable mortgages.” Merchants & Mechanics’ Bank v. Beard , 162 Ga. 446, 449 (134 SE 107) (1926). The General Assembly is presumed to have been aware of the existing state of the law when it enacted the 1995 Amendment, see Fair v. State , 288 Ga. 244, 252 (702 SE2d 420) (2010), so the placement of the amendment makes complete sense. Indeed, no reason has been suggested why the General Assembly would want the same type of recording to provide constructive notice for mortgages but not for security deeds. Accordingly, we conclude that the 1995 Amendment is applicable to security deeds.

4. Turning back to the certified question, we note that the “recordation” that is deemed to provide constructive notice to subsequent purchasers clearly refers back to “duly filed, recorded, and indexed” deeds. U.S. Bank argues that a “duly filed, recorded, and indexed” deed is simply one that is in fact filed, recorded, and indexed, even if unattested by an officer or a witness. We disagree.

Particular words of statutes are not interpreted in isolation; instead, courts must construe a statute to give ” ‘”sensible and intelligent effect” to all of its provisions,’ ” Footstar, Inc. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. , 281 Ga. 448, 450 (637 SE2d 692) (2006) (citation omitted), and “must consider the statute in relation to other statutes of which it is part.” State v. Bowen , 274 Ga. 1, 3 (547 SE2d 286) (2001). In particular, “statutes ‘in pari materia,’ i.e., statutes relating to the same subject matter, must be construed together.” Willis v. City of Atlanta , 285 Ga. 775, 776 (684 SE2d 271) (2009).

Construing the 1995 Amendment in harmony with other recording statutes and longstanding case law, we must reject U.S. Bank’s definition of “duly filed, recorded, and indexed.” Its definition ignores the first sentence of § 44-14-33, which provides that to admit a security deed to record, the deed must be attested by or acknowledged before an officer, such as a notary public, and, in the case of real property, by a second witness. See OCGA § 44-2-15 (listing the “officers” who are authorized to attest a mortgage or deed). Other statutes governing deeds and mortgages similarly preclude recording and constructive notice if certain requirements are not satisfied. See OCGA § 44-2-14 (“Before any deed to realty or personalty or any mortgage, bond for title, or other recordable instrument executed in this state may be recorded, it must be attested or acknowledged as provided by law.”); OCGA § 44-14-61 (“In order to admit deeds to secure debt or bills of sale to record, they shall be attested or proved in the manner prescribed by law for mortgages”). Indeed, U.S. Banks’ construction of the 1995 Amendment contradicts OCGA § 44-14-39, which provides that “[a] mortgage which is recorded . . . without due attestation . . . shall not be held to be notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers.”

Thus, the first sentence of § 44-14-33 and the statutory recording scheme indicate that the word “duly” in the second sentence of § 44-14-33 should be understood to mean that a security deed is “duly filed, recorded, and indexed” only if the clerk responsible for recording determines, from the face of the document, that it is in the proper form for recording, meaning that it is attested or acknowledged by a proper officer and (in the case of real property) an additional witness. This construction of the 1995 Amendment is also consistent with this Court’s longstanding case law, which holds that a security deed which appears on its face to be properly attested should be admitted to record, see Thomas v. Hudson , 190 Ga. 622, 626 (10 SE2d 396) (1940); Glover v. Cox , 137 Ga. 684, 691-694 (73 SE 1068) (1912), but that a deed that shows on its face that it was “not properly attested or acknowledged, as required by statute, is ineligible for recording.” Higdon v. Gates , 238 Ga. 105, 107 (231 SE2d 345) (1976).

We note that at the time the 1995 Amendment was considered and enacted, the appellate courts of this State had “never squarely considered” whether a security deed with a facially valid attestation could provide constructive notice where the attestation contained a latent defect, like the officer or witness not observing the grantor signing the deed. Leeds Bldg. Prods. v. Sears Mortg. Corp ., 267 Ga. 300, 301 (477 SE2d 565) (1996). The timing of the amendment suggests that the General Assembly was attempting to fill this gap in our law as the Leeds litigation worked its way through the trial court and the Court of Appeals before our decision in 1996. See Gordon , 429 BR at 50. We ultimately decided in Leeds that, “in the absence of fraud, a deed which, on its face, complies with all statutory requirements is entitled to be recorded, and once accepted and filed with the clerk of court for record, provides constructive notice to the world of its existence.” 267 Ga. at 302. We noted that Higdon remained good law, because in that case the deed was facially invalid, did “not entitle [the deed] to record,” and “did not constitute constructive notice to subsequent purchasers.” Leeds , 267 Ga. at 302. Because we reached the same result as under the 1995 Amendment, we did not have to consider whether the amendment should be applied retroactively to that case. See id. at 300 n.1.

Our interpretation of the 1995 Amendment also is supported by commentators that have considered the issue. See Frank S. Alexander, Georgia Real Estate Finance and Foreclosure Law, § 8-10, p. 138 (4th ed. 2004) (stating that “[a] security deed that is defective as to attestation, but without facial defects, provides constructive notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers”); Daniel F. Hinkel, 2 Pindar’s Georgia Real Estate Law and Procedure, § 20-18 (6th ed. 2011) (without mentioning deeds with facial defects, explaining that the 1995 Amendment to § 44-14-33 and Leeds “provide that in the absence of fraud a deed or mortgage, which on its face does not reveal any defect in the acknowledgment of the instrument and complies with all statutory requirements, is entitled to be recorded, and once accepted and filed with the clerk of the superior court for record, provides constructive notice to subsequent bona fide purchasers”); T. Daniel Brannan & William J. Sheppard, Real Estate , 49 Mercer L. Rev. 257, 263 (Fall 1997) (without mentioning deeds with facial defects, stating that the 1995 Amendment to § 44-14-33 resolves “the issue that was before the court in [Leeds ]“). As noted by the bankruptcy court, if Hinkel and the law review authors thought that the 1995 Amendment altered longstanding law with regard to deeds containing facial defects as to attestation, they surely would have said so. See Gordon , 429 BR at 52-53.

Finally, it should be recognized that U.S. Bank’s interpretation of the 1995 Amendment to § 44-14-33 “would relieve lenders of any obligation to present properly attested security deeds” and “would tell clerks that the directive to admit only attested deeds is merely a suggestion, not a duty,” and this would risk an increase in fraud because deeds no longer would require an attestation by a public officer who is sworn to verify certain information on the deeds before they are recorded and deemed to put all subsequent purchasers on notice. Gordon , 429 BR at 51-52. Moreover, while “it costs nothing and requires no special expertise or effort for a closing attorney, or a lender, or a title insurance company to examine the signature page of a deed for missing signatures before it is filed,” U.S. Bank’s construction would “shift to the subsequent bona fide purchaser and everyone else the burden of determining [possibly decades after the fact] the genuineness of the grantor’s signature and therefore the cost of investigating and perhaps litigating whether or not an unattested deed was in fact signed by the grantor.” Id. at 52.

For these reasons, we answer the certified question in the negative.

Certified question answered. All the Justices concur.

Trial Judge:

Attorneys: John B. Vitale and Lewis E. Hassett (Morris, Manning & Martin LLP), Atlanta, for appellant. Neil C. Gordon and Michael F. Holbein (Arnall Golden Gregory LLP), Atlanta, for appellee. Amicus Appellant: Edward D. Burch Jr. (Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP), William H. Dodson II (Dodson, Feldman & Dorough LLP) and Craig K. Pendergrast (Taylor English Duma LLP), Atlanta.

About Fletcher Jim
 Jim Fletcher is a Georgia attorney whose real estate litigation practice includes the representation of parties regarding residential and commercial foreclosures. You may contact Jim at (404) 461-9771.
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AJC Article on Squatters, They are Terrorists?

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/da-paper-terrorists-stealing-595202.html

DA: Paper terrorists stealing homes
S. DeKalb home is one of 19 Ga. properties usurped by ‘sovereign citizen’ group
By Megan Matteucci

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

8:48 a.m. Thursday, August 19, 2010

When a new family moved into the mansion on South Goddard Road in south DeKalb County, residents just assumed they were “city folks” too busy to meet neighbors.

Georgia Power and the water company came out, but 87-year-old Helen Goddard never saw the residents.

“We know everyone around here. But they were quiet, no knocking on the door to introduce themselves,” said Goddard, whose husband’s family has lived in the area for centuries and are the namesake for the road.

The only time Goddard saw her next-door neighbors was when they were being led off in handcuffs.

Prosecutors say the $1 million brick home next to the Goddards’ farmhouse is one of at least 19 properties that have been taken over by a sect of anti-government extremists involved in criminal behavior.

They call themselves “sovereign citizens” and believe they are immune to state and federal laws. They assert, among other things, that banks can’t own land and that any home owned by a bank – including the thousands throughout Georgia – is free for the taking.

Police and prosecutors take a different view. The FBI has listed them on the domestic terrorist list, saying their crime of choice is paper terrorism and attempting to disrupt the U.S. economy.

“Let’s not paint these people to be Robin Hood because they’re not giving to the poor,” DeKalb County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney John Melvin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They are taking.”

Prosecutors said the local sovereign citizens are consistent with other anarchist movements, filing lawsuits and liens on police, government officials and anyone who questions them.

They are all born in the U.S., but create their own drivers’ licenses, complete with seals for fictitious nations. Many of the suspects have multiple names and a history of not paying taxes.

“They don’t believe in the U.S. and our laws until they are arrested. Then they want a lawyer,” said Lt. Joe Fagan, commander of DeKalb Police’s North Precinct.

The FBI says the national movement has been around for decades and has ties to the Nuwaubians, a black supremacist group that started near Augusta. Nationally, sovereign citizens, which originated as a white supremacist group, have been connected to multiple insurance fraud and tax evasion scams, along with some violent crimes.

Locally, investigators have tied the sovereign citizens to at least 19 property thefts in DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Spalding, Newton and Richmond counties. They include mansions – some still under construction – and a shopping center in Buckhead valued at $13 million.

Police have charged six suspects – including Goddard’s two neighbors Linda and Gregory Ross – with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act. Warrants have been issued for another five suspects.

Most of the properties are in foreclosure, but there also were some vacant homes for sale.

“It’s a different animal than squatters,” Melvin said. “They show bogus quitclaim deeds, call the locksmith and move in. For them, it’s that easy.”

DeKalb, which broke the case, is leading the prosecution for all of the counties, Melvin said. The grand jury is now reviewing the cases.

The investigation started in May when a real estate agent called DeKalb police to report that the locks were being changed on a $1 million home he was selling on Windsor Parkway in Atlanta.

“The locksmith rolled up and the sovereign citizen reported he was the owner,” Fagan said.

Jermaine Eric Gibson, 36, and Joseph Dion Lawler, 45, had created a phony quitclaim deed and moved into a foreclosed house, police said. They posted phony deeds in the window and used them to persuade utility workers to turn on the electricity and water.

“We raided the house and through our investigation we found the central location for their operations was a Lithonia mansion,” Melvin told the AJC.

Investigators began pulling the bogus deeds, which had been filed with the Superior Court clerks in each county. They quickly saw that many of the deeds listed the same contract address.

Channel 2 Action News also launched an investigation and linked those suspects to several other house thefts.

Investigators said the suspects had used fraudulent deeds to turn the properties over to themselves and then filed them with court clerks throughout north Georgia. On the majority of the deeds, the price is listed as 21 silver dollars, which is consistent with other sovereign citizen schemes nationwide, prosecutors said. On others, the price is listed at “zero dollars.”

The banks that owned the homes were unaware of the deed changes.

“The banks have so many of them [foreclosures] and it’s hard to keep track of them,” said John H. Moore, a real estate attorney in Cobb County.

Investigators talked to prosecutors and the county marshal’s office, who first reported the pattern of problem evictions: the so-called sovereign citizens refusing to leave, Melvin said.

In each case, the suspects had posted the fraudulent deeds in the window, hoping to deter the marshals.

Police said they have not noted any violence associated with these groups in the Atlanta area, but other self-proclaimed sovereign citizens have been charged with the shooting deaths of two police officers in Arkansas in May.

“We have definitely been concerned about officer safety. There is always that potential, but we’ve been prepared,” Fagan said.

Investigators recovered a gun from one of the stolen Atlanta area homes, Melvin said. They’ve also seized furniture, electronics and other personal belongings.

Remnants of those belongings remain scattered on the lawn outside the massive brick home on South Goddard, near Arabia Mountain State Park. Crime scene tape is still wrapped around a tree and tattered pieces of clothing litter the circular driveway in front of the four-car garage.

Other than those few items, an eviction notice from the DeKalb Marshal’s Office posted in the window is all that remains from the sovereign citizens.

Helen Goddard worries that the longer the house sits vacant, the more it will affect neighborhood property values and their safety.

The vacant house was initially valued at almost $1 million, but was listed at $339,000 after going into foreclosure, according to property records.

An attorney for Linda Ross, one of Goddard’s two neighbors, said she was a victim of a sovereign citizen scam and unaware of her husband’s activities.

“They convinced them they could move in by paying silver dollars instead of the full price,” attorney Tom Ford told the AJC. “Linda is a nurse with seven children. She has not signed a quitclaim deed. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets wrapped up in this arrest.”

Linda Ross has since been released on a $50,000 bond while her husband remains in jail.

Court records show Gibson filed a petition in April with the DeKalb court clerk to change his name. “I am a sovereign Hebrew Israelite/Moor. I am changing my name to reclaim my freedom,” he wrote.

He also filed an “affidavit of truth” in Fulton, claiming he is a “natural, freeborn sovereign without subjects.”

Corey Bernard Freeman, 41, filed a similar affidavit last month in Gwinnett, saying he is a “common man of the sovereign people” and doesn’t have to follow any laws. Freeman is charged with deeding a house to himself in DeKalb and one in Henry County.

Police encourage residents to be “nosy neighbors” and monitor foreclosures in their neighborhoods.

Prosecutors said they plan to ask legislators to toughen laws for filing quitclaim deeds, an affidavit that transfers a piece of property from owner to another.

Anyone can type up a quitclaim deed, have it notarized and file it with the local clerk of court. All that is required to file the deed is a small fee and a valid driver’s license, said Minnie Rucker, of the DeKalb Superior Court clerk’s real estate division.

“What we look for are signatures for the grantor and grantee, a transfer note and notary,” she said. “We don’t really police the documents.”

That’s why prosecutors hope to crack down on the scheme before it becomes a bigger problem.

“It’s an economic threat,” Melvin said. “At the end of the day, these people are in these homes illegally. They cause damage to the properties and are raising the tax burden on everyone.”