Saint Louis Missouri Inundated By Rampant Animal Abuse Epidemic – 1 WildAss

 

Saint Louis Missouri Inundated By Rampant Animal Abuse Epidemic

Gang House Is Torture Chamber For Five Brutally Killed Dogs

ST. LOUIS, May 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With rampant, unchecked animal abuse occurring on a daily basis, Saint Louis City has a dark cloud hanging over it that largely remains a secret to the rest of the nation. In a state notorious for puppy mills and lax animal abuse laws, St. Louis continues to stand out among other major metropolitan cities for their unwillingness to dedicate any resources of consequence to combat the rising animal abuse epidemic that plagues the area. Stray Rescue of St. Louis, a companion animal rescue and shelter nonprofit that has been featured on networks like CNN, National Geographic and Animal Planet, arrived at a vacant city house littered with gang graffiti on Tuesday, May 15 to find five dogs savagely tortured and killed.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120516/DC08614)
“I have seen a lot of horrific abuse in the decades I have been rescuing dogs, but I haven’t seen anything this barbaric,” said Randy Grim, Founder of Stray Rescue. “It was like a scene from the most shocking horror film, and it will stay with me forever. These dogs truly went through hell.”
In the house, rescuers found chains and electrical cords used to restrain and strangle dogs. They found skeletal remains of a dog that had been choked to death, and a trail of dried blood that led to an area where a dog was burned – more than likely alive. Furniture was stacked upon more furniture over the body of another dog that had also been strangled with a cable cord.
The lifeless body of a dog seen through an upstairs window was draped over the windowsill. X-rays, taken by Stray Rescue’s veterinary staff as part of a necropsy report, revealed severe trauma to the larynx. The vet staff believes that this was caused by the abusers positioning the dog on the windowsill and slamming the window down upon him repeatedly, crushing his larynx and killing him. One witness in the area, who wishes to remain anonymous because they are afraid of the gang who committed the abuse, reported a sixth dog who was lynched, having been hung out of a window. This dog has not been recovered.
“It’s terrifying to know that people who are capable of such abuse are running free in our neighborhoods right this moment, and it’s chilling to not know who their next victim will be,” said Grim. “Stray Rescue is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the conviction of these abusers.”

The correlation between animal abuse and violent crime is well documented, and Stray Rescue has been building abuse cases for the city’s Circuit Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The police have been largely unsympathetic to the situation and unresponsive to assisting in the arrests of these dangerous criminals. In fact, St. Louis is one of the few major cities with no dedicated police officers assigned to such cases, and city officials rely heavily on the nonprofit to humanely remove dogs from the streets. In July of 2011, Agent Richie Raheb of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Division and star of Animal Planet’s “Animal Precinct” accompanied Grim for a day of rescuing and promptly stated that the areas in St. Louis “were the worst he had ever scene.”
Stray Rescue deals with abuse cases in the city daily and is currently working to build a comprehensive case in order to seek arrest for the individual(s) who committed these gruesome crimes.
To honor the deceased dogs that likely never knew anything but terror, Stray Rescue gave them names before having their remains cremated together: Brandy, Schnapps, Frangelico, Grand Marnier, and B&B.
People can help by reading about this abuse story online and then contacting St. Louis Mayor’s Office, the Police Chief Isom, and other St. Louis Officials and express their outrage at this horrific abuse.

About Stray Rescue of St. Louis
Stray Rescue’s mission is to lead the way towards making St. Louis a compassionate city where every companion animal knows health, comfort, and affection, and no stray is euthanized merely because he or she has been abandoned, abused, or neglected. As part of our mission, Stray Rescue is out on the streets daily taking a progressive, proactive approach to establishing a permanent resolution to the stray companion animal problem through dedicated rescue efforts, sheltering, community outreach programs, education, collaborations, and the encouragement of responsible pet guardianship.
Contact: Randy Grim, 314.267.0704, randy@strayrescue.org
Jason Schipkowski, 314.740.5224, jason@strayrescue.org

SOURCE Stray Rescue of St. Louis

Saint Louis Missouri Inundated By Rampant Animal Abuse Epidemic – 1 WildAss

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

Hawaii kicked some ass!

Deadly Clear

One of the most important decisions for Borrowers Rights in the history of Hawaii has been made with this decision.  Honorable Judge J. Michael Seabright of the Hawaii United States District Court, today GRANTED the homeowners’ Motion to Dismiss the case filed against them in federal district court by Plaintiff Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I Inc. Trust 2007-NC1 Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-NC1. 

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USDOJ: Loan Officer Pleads Guilty for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme That Resulted in More Than $6.5 Million in Losses

 

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Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Loan Officer Pleads Guilty for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme That Resulted in More Than $6.5 Million in Losses

WASHINGTON – A loan officer for a Florida mortgage company pleaded guilty late yesterday in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Inspector General David A. Montoya announced today. 
Alejandro Curbelo, 32, aka Alex Curbelo, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard.  Curbelo was indicted and arrested on Jan. 24, 2012.

According to court documents, from approximately February 2006 through July 2008, Curbelo was employed as a loan officer for Great Country Mortgage Bankers.  In this role, he assisted in the sales and financing of condominium units at two complexes in Florida – Dadeland Place and Pelican Cove on the Bay.  The borrowers Curbelo assisted at these two complexes were unqualified to obtain mortgage loans due to insufficient income, high levels of debts and outstanding collections. 

Curbelo admitted that he conspired with others to create and submit false and fraudulent Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage loan applications and accompanying documents to a lender on behalf of the unqualified borrowers.  Curbelo and others offered the borrowers cash back after closing as an incentive for them to purchase the units.  These payments were not disclosed properly during the loan application process.  According to court documents, the closing costs were paid on behalf of the borrowers by interstate wire.  After the loans closed, the unqualified borrowers failed to meet their monthly mortgage obligations and defaulted on their loans. 

According to court documents, when the loans went into foreclosure, HUD, which insured the loans, was required to take title to the units and pay the outstanding loan balances to the lenders.  As of the date of the plea agreement, the actual loss related to Curbelo’s conduct that was paid by HUD was more than $6.5 million.

Curbelo is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25, 2012.  He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. 

This case was investigated by the HUD Office of Inspector General, as participants in the Miami Mortgage Fraud Strike Force.  Trial Attorney Mary Ann McCarthy of the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division is prosecuting the case with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
This prosecution is part of efforts under way by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.

USDOJ: Loan Officer Pleads Guilty for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme That Resulted in More Than $6.5 Million in Losses

USDOJ: Alabama Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Conspiracies to Rig Bids and Commit Mail Fraud for the Purchase of Real Estate at Public Foreclosure Auctions

 

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, April 20, 2012

Alabama Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Conspiracies to Rig Bids and Commit Mail Fraud for the Purchase of Real Estate at Public Foreclosure Auctions

WASHINGTON – An Alabama real estate investor has agreed to plead guilty and to serve prison time for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama, the Department of Justice announced today. To date, as a result of the ongoing investigation, three individuals and one company have pleaded guilty.

Charges were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile, Ala., against Lawrence B. Stacy of Mobile.  Stacy was charged with one count of bid rigging and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  According to the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Stacy has agreed to serve six months in prison.  Additionally, Stacy has agreed to pay a $10,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.

According to court documents, Stacy conspired with others not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama.  After a designated bidder bought a property at the public auctions, which typically take place at the county courthouse, the conspirators would generally hold a secret, second auction, at which each participant would bid the amount above the public auction price he or she was willing to pay.  The highest bidder at the secret, second auction won the property.

Stacy was also charged with conspiring to use the U.S. mail to carry out a scheme to acquire title to rigged foreclosure properties sold at public auctions at artificially suppressed prices, to make and receive payoffs to co-conspirators and to cause financial institutions, homeowners and others with a legal interest in rigged foreclosure properties to receive less than the competitive price for the properties. Stacy participated in the bid-rigging and mail fraud conspiracies from at least as early as May 2002 until at least January 2007.

“The Antitrust Division will continue to pursue vigorously the perpetrators involved in these real estate foreclosure auction schemes,” said Sharis A. Pozen, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Those who eliminate competition from the marketplace and prey on the misfortune of others will be held accountable for their actions.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Mobile FBI office, Lewis M. Chapman recognized the perseverance of agents and prosecutors in this complex investigation.  Chapman stated, “This investigation sends the message that real estate fraud including antitrust violations will continue to be pursued in these tough economic times, no matter how intricate the scheme.”

Each violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals.  The maximum fine for a Sherman Act charge may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine. Each count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine in an amount equal to the greatest of $250,000, twice the gross gain the conspirators derived from the crime or twice the gross loss caused to the victims of the crime by the conspirators.

The investigation into fraud and bid rigging at certain real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office and the FBI’s Mobile Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office at 404-331-7100 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.

Today’s charges are part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.  For more information on the task force, visit www.StopFraud.gov.

USDOJ: Alabama Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Conspiracies to Rig Bids and Commit Mail Fraud for the Purchase of Real Estate at Public Foreclosure Auctions

Federal Judge Magner: Wells Fargo’s Behavior “Highly Reprehensible” – Mandelman Matters

 

Federal Judge Magner: Wells Fargo’s Behavior “Highly Reprehensible”

Does anyone know what’s happened at Wells Fargo Bank?  If so, please let the rest of us know, because in a line up of TBTF bank CEOs, to stand out as being particularly awful is no easy task… and yet Wells Fargo’s CEO, John Stumpf has risen to the challenge and then some.

At the beginning of April of this year, Judge Elizabeth Magner, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, characterized Wells Fargo’s behavior as being “highly reprehensible.”  Think about that for a moment.  That means that the judge decided that to describe Wells Fargo as merely “reprehensible,” wasn’t enough.

Wow, that is something.  Can you imagine someone saying that about you… a federal judge, no less?  I’m thinking that if a federal judge ever has the occasion to describe my behavior as being worse than “reprehensible,” I’m going to jail for a long time.

Of course, no danger of anything like that happening here… bankers don’t go to jail in this country, every one knows that.  But, in this instance, after more than five years in litigation with a single homeowner, Judge Magner ordered Wells Fargo to pay the New Orleans man $3.1 million in punitive damages.

Now, if that sounds like a paltry sum for the likes of Wells Fargo, that’s only because it is.  And that it represents one of the largest fines ever levied related to mortgage servicing misconduct hardly makes it feel any better.

It’s kind of like being forced to eat dog turd ice cream, but finding out that it’s okay if you pour motor oil on top.  Does that improve your circumstances?  I guess so, but…

Judge Magner, in her opinion, wrote…

“Wells Fargo has taken advantage of borrowers who rely on it to accurately apply payments and calculate the amounts owed, but perhaps more disturbing is Wells Fargo’s refusal to voluntarily correct its errors. It prefers to rely on the ignorance of borrowers or their inability to fund a challenge to its demands, rather than voluntarily relinquish gains obtained through improper accounting methods.”

So, what was Wells Fargo doing exactly?  Well, they were systematically over-charging the people least able to do anything about it… those filing bankruptcy.  In this case, Wells Fargo improperly charged the borrower $24,000 in fees, but it wasn’t done by hand, it was the bank’s automated systems doing precisely what they were programmed to do.  Like, anything but an isolated incident.

After the borrower fell into default on his mortgage, Wells Fargo’s automated system began applying his mortgage payments to interest and fees that had accrued instead of to principal, as required by his servicing contract, which in turn led to him being charged with a virtual waterfall of additional fees and interest.  And even after the borrower filed bankruptcy, Wells Fargo continued to misapply his payments, according to Judge Magner’s written opinion.

And why wouldn’t they?  I know, it sounds weird to say it, but I think I would have been disappointed had Wells stopped there.

There’s even a terme de l’art for this scenario used by consumer lawyers… they call it a “rolling default.”  I suppose the name refers to the idea that once the scheme gets rolling, it’s all downhill from there.  I think it should be called a “boiling default,” because once it’s boiling, you’re goose is most assuredly cooked.

Or, wait a minute… hang on… how about we call it: “Getting Stumpfed.”

(Come on, admit it… I’m good.)

Judge Magner went on to describe Wells Fargo’s litigation tactics as involving the filing of dozens of briefs, motions and other filings clearly designed to slow down legal proceedings to such a point that anyone thinking of mounting a legal challenge against a bank quickly finds it essentially impossible.

And since it’s only through costly litigation that the insidious crimes of Wells Fargo become apparent, all the bank has to do is prevent those with limited resources from doing what they can’t do with limited resources.  Now there’s a winning business model for you.  Like making billions by stopping blind people from seeing.

What sort of a company engineers this sort of strategic core competency anyway?  Remember Ford’s infamous Pinto strategy… rather than fix the problem, just settle them as they exploded?  Well, this Wells Fargo stuff makes that look as benevolent as Girl Scouts selling cookies after church.

Wells Fargo actually engineered a strategy and built a system to rampantly abuse the individuals in our society least able to defend their interests.  This is a bank that deserves to have a statue erected in its likeliness and even its own Lazarus-styled sonnet.  I’m just thinking out loud here, but how about…

“The Statue of Larceny”

And inside the base, engraved on a bronze plaque, could be these words…

Give us your jobless, injured, bankrupt filers, whose lawyers won’t work free. 

The wretched refuse against whom in court we’ll always score. 

Send them one by one, homes all sold by substitute trustee,

We’ll rape them, rob them, force them out Wells Fargo’s golden door.

Not bad, right?  No?  Sheesh… tough crowd.

Judge Magner, in an interview with Ben Hallman of Huffington Post, said that she personally analyzed the loan files of twenty borrowers in her court and found supposed “errors” in every single instance.  So, at least we know the systems are working properly, and somehow I find that oddly reassuring.

I don’t know why but there’s something even more terrifying about the idea that we might be getting ripped off by banks in an entirely random way.  Like one day you get hit for a hundred… and the next day not only is your entire IRA gone, but two weeks later you learn that the bank bounced one of your checks to the IRS for the penalty on the early withdrawal.

I know, right?  Now, that would be rude.

I guess I only have a couple of questions I’d like to ask, and the most obvious is: Why would anyone whose read about this decision continue to bank at Wells Fargo?

I mean, if they do this sort of thing systematically… AND THEY UNQUESTIONABLY DO, how do you know where the other spots are that are picking your pocket for twenty here and twenty there.  Because you’re not going to tell me you think this case has uncovered the only place at Wells Fargo where this sort of thing goes on, are you?  Come on… what are you, six?

And, my second question is: What do our elected representatives do these days… I mean specifically?  State or federal, I don’t care which… you pick.  Because it kind of seems like we’ve quietly been transformed into a lawless society in many ways, don’t you think?

Like in this bankruptcy case… the judge has uncovered the systematic stealing from the defenseless, but it’s not like it’s a major news story, or anything.  To the contrary, it’s nowhere.  Doesn’t anyone but me find that amazing?  How do they do that?  Where have all the journalists gone?

I can tell you that I receive more complaints about Wells Fargo refusing to approve loan modifications than any three other mortgage servicers combined.  But then, Wells did modify one of the homeowners I wrote about a few months back.  I don’t know why, maybe it was an accident.

Here’s one more thing Judge Marner said about Wells Fargo in her written opinion…

“These are loans of working-class people who bought homes they could afford and whose loans were not administered correctly from an accounting perspective,” Judge Magner said. “I think that these types of problems occur in almost every [defaulted] loan in the country.”

Good Lord.

So, Mr. John Stumpf… Wells Fargo’s CEO… you just go ahead committing those criminal acts with impunity.  Don’t change now… go down with your ship.  Besides, I’m sure there are deceptions your people haven’t thought of yet.

Do you have a program that targets autistic children yet? Or what about something abusive for unmarried pregnant chicks that never finished high school? Or, what about the elderly, are you doing enough to take advantage of the elderly?

I’m sure you’ll think of something, which is why I’ve told my wife and daughter to stay out of banks for the foreseeable future.  We only make deposits at the ATM at night, which may sound crazy, but I’m betting will one day soon prove considerably safer than being inside during the day.

Lo siento.  Que se mejore pronto.

Mandelman out.

Federal Judge Magner: Wells Fargo’s Behavior “Highly Reprehensible” – Mandelman Matters

Lawyers Take Note: Wells Fargo Slammed with $3.1 Million Punitive Damages on One Wrongful Foreclosure | DTC Systems

 

Lawyers Take Note: Wells Fargo Slammed with $3.1 Million Punitive Damages on One Wrongful Foreclosure

On April 12, 2012, in Information, News, Securitization, by Dan Edstrom

Lawyers Take Note: Wells Fargo Slammed with $3.1 Million Punitive Damages on One Wrongful Foreclosure

By Daniel Edstrom
DTC Systems, Inc.

Posted by Neil F. Garfield on livinglies.wordpress.com (http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/lawyers-take-note-wells-fargo-slammed-with-3-1-million-punitive-damages-on-one-wrongful-foreclosure/).

GARFIELD PROPOSES NATIONAL LAW FIRM FOR COUNTER-ATTACK
Editor’s Comment:

The most perplexing part of this mortgage mess has been the unwillingness of the legal community to take on the Banks. Besides the intimidation factor the primary source of resistance has been the lack of confidence that any money could be made, ESPECIALLY on contingency. If you were the lawyer in the case reported below, you would be getting a check for fees alone of over $1.2 million on a single case. And as this article and hundreds of others have reported, based upon objective surveys, most of the 5 million homes lost since 2007 were wrongful foreclosures.

So the inventory for lawyers is 5 million homes plus the next 5 million everyone is expecting. Let’s due some simple arithmetic: if 4 million homes were wrongfully foreclosed and the punitive damages were $1 million per house the total take would be $4 Billion with contingency fees at $1.6 Billion. If each house carried $200,000 in compensatory damages, then the total would be increased by $800 Million with Lawyers taking home $320 Million. These figures exceed personal injury and malpractice awards. Why is the legal profession ignoring this opportunity to do something right and make a fortune at the same time?

Right now I’m a little under the weather (open heart surgery) but that hasn’t stopped my associates from rolling out a plan for a national anti-foreclosure firm. I’m only doing this because nobody else will. If you have had a home wrongfully foreclosed or suspect that your current foreclosure is wrongful, write to NeilFGarfield@hotmail.com (remember the “F”) and ask for help. Lawyers and victims of wrongful foreclosures should be able to pool their resources to attack the massive foreclosure attack with a massive anti-foreclosure attack.

DTC Systems readers can write to info@dtc-systems.com and ask for help.  We will see that your request is sent to the lawyers working on this new program.

Here is the Conclusion from the Order (download below):

Wells Fargo’s actions were not only highly reprehensible, but its subsequent reaction on their exposure has been less than satisfactory. There is a strong societal interest in preventing such future conduct through a punitive award. The total monetary judgment to date is $24,441.65, plus legal interest,$166,873.00 in legal fees and $3,951.96 in costs. Other fees and costs incurred by Jones through the first remand were also incurred and are not included in the foregoing amounts. Because the Court cannot reveal the sealed amount stipulated to by the parties when they settled Jones’ Application for Award of Fees and Costs Related to Remand (“Application”),70 the Court will use Jones’ Application itself as evidence of fees and costs actually incurred up to the date of the Application. The Application and supporting documentation establish that an additional $118,251.93 in attorneys’ fees and $3,596.95 in costs was also incurred by Jones.71 The amounts previously awarded plus the additional amounts incurred establish that the cost to litigate the compensatory portion of this award was $292,673.84. After considering the compensatory damages of $24,441.65 awarded in this case, along with the litigation costs of $292,673.84; awards against Wells Fargo in other cases for the same behavior which did not deter its conduct; and the previous judgments in this case none of which deterred its actions; the Court finds that a punitive damage award of $3,171,154.00 is warranted to deter Wells Fargo from similar conduct in the future. This Court hopes that the relief granted will finally motivate Wells Fargo to rectify its practices and comply with the terms of court orders, plans and the automatic stay.

Download the bankruptcy ruling here:  http://dtc-systems.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Jones_vs_Wells_Fargo.pdf

Tagged with: automatic staycompensatory damagesConclusioncontingencycounter-attackDaniel EdstromDTC-Systemsintimidation factorlivinglies.wordpress.comnational anti-foreclosure firmNational law firmNeil F. Garfieldpersonal injury and malpractice awardsPunitive DamagesWells FargoWrongful Foreclosure

Lawyers Take Note: Wells Fargo Slammed with $3.1 Million Punitive Damages on One Wrongful Foreclosure | DTC Systems

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GARFIELD PROPOSES NATIONAL LAW FIRM FOR COUNTER-ATTACK

Editor’s Comment: 

The most perplexing part of this mortgage mess has been the unwillingness of the legal community to take on the Banks. Besides the intimidation factor the primary source of resistance has been the lack of confidence that any money could be made, ESPECIALLY on contingency. If you were the lawyer in the case reported below, you would be getting a check for fees alone of over $1.2 million on a single case. And as this article and hundreds of others have reported, based upon objective surveys, most of the 5 million homes lost since 2007 were wrongful foreclosures.

So the inventory for lawyers is 5 million homes plus the next 5 million everyone is expecting. Let’s due some simple arithmetic: if 4 million homes were wrongfully…

View original post 1,036 more words

New York State Appeals Court Affirms Denial Of BofA’s Motion to Sever and Consolidate Successor Liability Claims

Published 04/16/2012

http://www.linkedin.com/osview/canvas?_ch_page_id=1&_ch_panel_id=1&_ch_app_id=49029150&_applicationId=103900&appParams=%7B%22document%22%3A%227f7c72d2-c6c5-4387-a339-9aef6cd4d216%22%2C%22method%22%3A%22document.view%22%2C%22layout%22%3A%22layout_blank%22%2C%22target%22%3A%22blank_content%22%2C%22surface%22%3A%22canvas%22%7D&_ownerId=57736655&completeUrlHash=diwZ

On April 5, 2012, a five-judge panel for the New York’s First Department intermediate appellate court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that denied Bank of America’s motion to sever successor liability claims brought against it from the primary claims in four separate actions brought by four monoline insurers. Bank of America had requested that, once severed from the underlying lawsuits, the successor liability claims should be consolidated into a separate proceeding for discovery purposes. The four insurers, Ambac Assurance Corp, Financial Guaranty Insurance Co, MBIA Inc, and Syncora Guarantee Inc., claim in their respective lawsuits that Countrywide ignored underwriting guidelines, resulting in loans that were riskier than had been represented to the insurers and thus subjecting the insurers to billions of dollars in insurance claims when the loans defaulted. They seek to hold Bank of America liable under theories of successor liability related to Bank of America’s acquisition of Countrywide. In affirming the denial of Bank of America’s motion, the appeals court reasoned that the four actions were at different stages of discovery and that consolidation would result in undue delay. Order.

R.I.P. Bill of Rights 1789 – 2011

http://www.naturalnews.com/034537_NDAA_Bill_of_Rights_Obama.html

rights

R.I.P. Bill of Rights 1789 – 2011

Sunday, January 01, 2012
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com
(See all articles…)

(NaturalNews) One of the most extraordinary documents in human history — the Bill of Rights — has come to an end under President Barack Obama. Derived from sacred principles of natural law, the Bill of Rights has come to a sudden and catastrophic end with the President’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a law that grants the U.S. military the “legal” right to conduct secret kidnappings of U.S. citizens, followed by indefinite detention, interrogation, torture and even murder. This is all conducted completely outside the protection of law, with no jury, no trial, no legal representation and not even any requirement that the government produce evidence against the accused. It is a system of outright government tyranny against the American people, and it effectively nullifies the Bill of Rights.

In what will be remembered as the most traitorous executive signing ever committed against the American people, President Obama signed the bill on New Year’s Eve, a time when most Americans were engaged in the consumption of alcohol. It seems appropriate, of course, since no intelligent American could accept the tyranny of this bill if they were sober.

This is the law that will cement Obama’s legacy in the history books as the traitor who nullified the Bill of Rights and paved America’s pathway down a road of tyranny that will make Nazi Germany’s war crimes look like child’s play. If Bush had signed a law like this, liberals would have been screaming “impeachment!”

Why the Bill of Rights matters

While the U.S. Constitution already limits the power of federal government, the Bill of Rights is the document that enumerates even more limits of federal government power. In its inception, many argued that a Bill of Rights was completely unnecessary because, they explained, the federal government only has the powers specifically enumerated to it under the U.S. Constitution. There was no need to have a “First Amendment” to protect Free Speech, for example, because there was no power granted to government to diminish Free Speech.
This seems silly today, of course, given the natural tendency of all governments to concentrate power in the hands of the few while destroying the rights and freedoms of their own people. But in the 1780’s, whether government could ever become a threat to future freedoms was hotly debated. By 1789, enough revolutionary leaders had agreed on the fundamental principles of a Bill of Rights to sign it into law. Its purpose was to provide additional clarifications on the limitation of government power so that there could be absolutely no question that government could NEVER, under any circumstances, violate these key principles of freedom: Freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, freedom from illegal searches, the right to remain silent, the right to due process under law, and so on.

Of course, today’s runaway federal government utterly ignores the limitations placed on it by the founding fathers. It aggressively and criminally seeks to expand its power at all costs, completely ignoring the Bill of Rights and openly violating the limitations of power placed upon it by the United States Constitution. The TSA’s illegal searching of air travelers, for example, is a blatant violation of Fourth Amendment rights. The government’s hijacking of websites it claims are linking to “copyright infringement” hubs is a blatant violation of First Amendment rights. The government’s demand that all Americans be forced to buy private health insurance is a blatant violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution — the “commerce clause.”
Now, with the passage of the NDAA, the federal government has torpedoed the entire Bill of Rights, dismissing it completely and effectively promising to violate those rights at will. As of January 1, 2012, we have all been designated enemies of the state. America is the new battleground, and your “right” to due process is null and void.

Remember, this was all done by the very President who promised to close Guantanamo Bay and end secret military prisons. Not only did Obama break that campaign promise (as he has done with nearly ALL his campaign promises), he did exactly the opposite and has now subjected all Americans to the possibility of government-sponsored kidnapping, detainment and torture, all under the very system of secret military prisons he claimed he would close!

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Obama’s signing statement means nothing

Even while committing an act of pure treason in signing the bill, the unindicted criminal President Obama issued a signing statement that reads, in part, “Moving forward, my administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded…”

Anyone who reads between the lines here realizes the “the flexibility on which our safety depends” means they can interpret the law in any way they want if there is a sufficient amount of fear being created through false flag terror attacks. Astute readers will also notice that Obama’s signing statement has no legal binding whatsoever and only refers to Obama’s momentary intentions on how he “wishes” to interpret the law. It does not place any limits whatsoever on how a future President might use the law as written.

“The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” says the ACLU (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/president-obama-signs-inde…).

What this means is that the next President could use this law to engage in the most horrific holocaust-scale mass round-up of people the world has ever seen. The NDAA legalizes the crimes of Nazi Germany in America, setting the stage for the mass murder of citizens by a rogue government.

United States of America becomes a rogue nation, operating in violation of international law

Furthermore, the NDAA law as written and signed, is a violation of international law as it does not even adhere to the fundamental agreements of how nations treat prisoners of war:  “…the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war” says the ACLU (http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/president-obama-signs-inde…).

In 1789, today’s NDAA law would have been called “treasonous,” and those who voted for it would have been shot dead as traitors. This is not a call for violence, but rather an attempt to provide historical context of just how destructive this law really is. Men and women fought and died for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. People sacrificed their lives, their safety and risked everything to achieve the freedoms that made America such a great nation. For one President to so callously throw away 222 years of liberty, betraying those great Americans who painstakingly created an extraordinary document limiting the power of government, is equivalent to driving a stake through the heart of the Republic.

In signing this, Obama has proven himself to be the most criminal of all U.S. Presidents, far worse than George W. Bush and a total traitor to the nation and its People. Remember, Obama swore upon a Bible that he would “protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and yet he himself has become the enemy of the Constitution by signing a law that overtly and callously nullifies the Bill of Rights.

This is nothing less than an act of war declared on the American people by the executive and legislative branches of government. It remains to be seen whether the judicial branch will go along with it (US Supreme Court).

Origins of the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights, signed in 1789 by many of the founding fathers of our nation, was based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted in 1776 and authored largely by George Mason, one of the least-recognized revolutionaries who gave rise to a nation of freedom and liberty.

Mason was a strong advocate of not just states’ rights, but of individual rights, and without his influence in 1789, we might not even have a Bill of Rights today (and our nation would have slipped into total government tyranny all the sooner). In fact, he openly opposed ratification of the U.S. Constitution unless it contained a series of amendments now known as the Bill of Rights

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mason)
SECTION ONE of this Virginia declaration of rights states:  “That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

(http://www.constitution.org/bcp/virg_dor.htm)
Section Three of the declaration speaks to the duty of the Citizens to abolish abusive government:

“That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.”

By any honest measure, today’s U.S. government, of course, has overstepped the bounds of its original intent. As Mason wrote over 200 years ago, the People of America now have not merely a right but a duty to “reform, alter or abolish it,” to bring government back into alignment with its original purpose — to protect the rights of the People.

Obama violates his Presidential Oath, sworn before God

Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution spells out the oath of office that every President must take during their swearing in:  “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”


In signing the NDAA law into office, Obama has blatantly and unambiguously violated this sacred oath, meaning that his betrayal is not merely against the American people, but also against the Divine Creator.

Given that the Bill of Rights is an extension of Natural Law which establishes a direct heritage of sovereign power from the Creator to the People, a blatant attack upon the Bill of Rights is, by any account, an attack against the Creator and a violation of universal spiritual principles. Those who attempt to undermine the Bill of Rights are attempting to invalidate the relationship between God and Man, and in doing so, they are identifying themselves as enemies of God and agents of Evil.

Today, as 2012 begins, we are now a nation led by evil, and threatened with total destruction by those who would seek to rule as tyrants. This is America’s final hour. We either defend the Republic starting right now, or we lose it forever.

R.I.P. Bill of Rights 1789 – 2011

City of Roswell, Georgia bullies Andrew Wordes to death over his backyard chickens

http://www.lawlessamerica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=817:city-of-roswell-georgia-bullies-andrew-wordes-to-death-over-his-backyard-chickens&catid=117:news-reports&Itemid=219Sick smile

City of Roswell, Georgia bullies Andrew Wordes to death over his backyard chickens

City of Roswell, Georgia bullies Andrew Wordes to death over his backyard chickens

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:54
William M. Windsor
  • wordes-andrew

Andrew Wordes, an innocent man who had legally been raising a few dozen chickens and other small birds in the backyard of his suburban Atlanta home, is now dead, following a crusade of terror perpetrated against him by the City of Roswell Georgia.

Andrew Wordes, who died during a recent raid on his property in which county marshals tried to illegally evict him, was the obvious victim of a rogue state gone mad — and his blood is now on the hands of the Roswell City Administrator, the Roswell City Council, and the Roswell Police Department, all of which robbed from Wordes his property, his livelihood, and ultimately his life.

See the NaturalNews infographic timeline of events that documents the escalation that ultimately led to Mr. Andrew Wordes’ death: http://www.naturalnews.com

Andrew Wordes had long raised his small poultry friends in the backyard of his one-acre property at 335 Alpine Drive in Roswell, Georgia, sharing eggs, chicks, and friendly words of wisdom and encouragement with his neighbors and with local schoolchildren all along the way. Andrew Wordes was very active in his local community, having organized a North Georgia Pet Chicken “Meetup” group, and founded a chicken breeding club. His friends and neighbors described him as a generous, kind, and loving man who was always willing to lend a hand, and who would have given you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

But Andrew Wordes met his unjust fate on March 26, 2012, after roughly four years of enduring illicit and seemingly-endless abuse, bullying, threats, and unsubstantiated legal action taken against him by Roswell city officials with an apparent axe to grind. And after losing his birds, his freedom, his entire life savings, his property, and his livelihood as a result of the City of Roswell’s sadistic war against him, Andrew Wordes ended up losing his life as a result of an explosion that occurred during the final eviction raid carried out by Fulton County marshals.

City of Roswell targets Wordes for standing up for his rights, identifies his property on planning map as future ‘green space’

The saga allegedly began in 2008 when a disgruntled neighbor of Andrew Wordes reportedly complained to the city about Wordes raising chickens, button quail, and other small creatures in his backyard. The City of Roswell responded by issuing Andrew Wordes a citation for his chickens, even though the city’s Code of Ordinances specifically provisioned at the time that property owners on less than two acres of land could legally raise chickens and swine.

With the help of Roswell’s Mayor Jere Wood, a lawyer friend of Andrew Wordes who also raises chickens himself, Wordes was able to get the citation issued against him dismissed in court. But the firestorm of childish retaliation and rage that quickly ensued as a result of Andrew Wordes standing up for himself and his rights, rather than capitulating to the city’s tyrannical and mindless demands that he get rid of his chickens, will likely go down as one of the most tragically absurd abuses of power in the history of local government.

After it became clear that Andrew Wordes was not about to let the City of Roswell trample all over him and his rights, several city officials allegedly kicked their vendetta against him into high gear, not only to forcibly have Wordes’ chickens removed, but also to seize his property right out from under him. After failing twice to get Andrew Wordes nabbed for their made-up code violations, the City of Roswell actually rewrote the law to prohibit residents from raising more than six chickens in an effort to seal the deal.

But even this failed, as a judge later ruled that Andrew Wordes, who had been in his home for more than a decade raising chickens, would be “grandfathered in” under the old provisions which allowed for residents to raise backyard chickens. So the City of Roswell switched gears again and began to play even dirtier by getting Andrew Wordes arrested for petty violations, and proceeding to reclassify his property on their long-term planning map as future green space.

You can view the City of Roswell’s2030 Comprehensive Plan, which demarcates Wordes’ property as future “Conservation Area or Greenspace” here:
http://www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?NID=893

So it appears as though the City of Roswell used the supposed neighbor complaint as an excuse to pursue Andrew Wordes’ property for the purpose of eventually turning it into parks and green space. This would explain why the city failed to properly maintain storm water infrastructure near Wordes’ property, which resulted in his property becoming severely flooded at least a dozen times, and eventually uninhabitable.

City of Roswell refuses to submit Andrew Wordes’ request for FEMA assistance following severe flooding, issues citation when he attempts to protect his home

Not only did the City of Roswell fail to abide by legal guidelines that required it to maintain storm water infrastructure around Wordes’ property, but the city added insult to injury by refusing to file paperwork to the U.S.Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) following a flood that caused severe damage to Andrew Wordes’ home, which is also located on a floodplain. As a result, he had no means by which to fix the damage.

And when Andrew Wordes attempted to protect his property from future flood damage by grading his land with a Bobcat, which he borrowed from his friend Mayor Wood, the City of Roswell actually had the audacity to issue Wordes a citation for grading his land without a permit, and for having too many cars on his property at the time.

City of Roswell Code Enforcement Supervisor violates law by contacting Andrew Wordes’ mortgage holder, coercing her into selling mortgage note

From this point on, City of Roswell officials began harassing Andrew Wordes, and the local police department began to surveil his house on a regular basis, watching closely for anything that might be considered a violation. In the process, he was pulled over and even thrown in jail on numerous occasions.

In violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and several other laws, Roswell Code Enforcement Supervisor Vicki Barclay (http://www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?NID=94) allegedly called Wordes’ mortgage holder, an 80-year-old woman, and coerced her into selling Wordes’ mortgage note for 40 cents on the dollar to another mortgage holder by threatening to issue liens, citations, and grievances on the property if she failed to comply. Barclay is the same city official who had illegally tried to issue Wordes a citation for his chickens from the very beginning.

Having failed at all other attempts to seize his property, the City of Roswell then filed a zoning violation against Wordes claiming that his property was a “nuisance.” The city also filed a 55-page civil lawsuit against Andrew Wordes, which conveniently denied him the right to a city-funded public defender who was supposed to represent him in legal dealings involving the city.

Even with former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes on his side, Andrew Wordes was rapidly losing the ability to fend off these ravenous wolves in the City of Roswell government that were hellbent on forcing him off his property for their own devious purposes. And Roswell City Administrator Kay G. Love (http://www.roswellgov.com/Directory.aspx?EID=3), Roswell City councilmember Becky Wynn (http://www.roswellgov.com/directory.aspx?EID=6), Roswell City councilmember Rich Dippolito (http://richforroswell.com/about-rich.php), and Roswell Code Enforcement Supervisor Vicki Barclay (http://www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?NID=94) all played a key role in making this happen, according to accounts.

Andrew Wordes’ home vandalized, chickens poisoned while he attends political rally

The madness did not stop at Andrew Wordes’ property, however, as even his animals eventually got caught in the fray of the City of Roswell’s campaign of terror. According to reports, Andrew Wordes’ home was vandalized in 2011 while he was attending a local political rally, and when he returned, he found that his animals had also been poisoned. Roughly one-third of his animals, which included turkeys, chicks, and adult chickens, ended up dying as a result of this poisoning.

Andrew Wordes filed a police report in response to these crimes, but the Roswell police department never pursued the case, and it was never determined who committed them. Consequently, Wordes lost a significant portion of his income and livelihood as a result of the mysterious deaths, which made his already-burgeoning financial problems even worse.

City of Roswell jails Wordes for 99 days, proceeds to evict him from property using phony foreclosure notice

After attacking him from practically all angles and nabbing him for every single petty violation they could think of, the City of Roswell finally ended up jailing Wordes for a whopping 99 days. And immediately after Wordes was jailed, the City of Roswell issued a public press release letting the public know that Wordes’ house was now “vacant,” a purely vindictive move that had terrifying consequences.

Within just a few hours of the announcement, Wordes’ house was vandalized and looted. Even though the City of Roswell promised to keep an eye on the property after issuing the press release, criminals were somehow able to steal Wordes’ firearms and weapons, ammunition, and other valuables, which put the entire community at risk.

During this time, Wordes was refused the ability to proceed with the bankruptcy filings that would have halted the illegal foreclosure on his property which, conveniently for the City of Roswell, was moving forward during his time in jail. As pointed out by Maggie West Bean writing forExaminer.com, the foreclosure paperwork was not even legal to begin with, as it lacked necessary information proving its validity (http://www.examiner.com).

After finally being released, Wordes was left with an uninhabitable house and property, no more animals, no more money, and a pending eviction notice illegally issued by the ruthless criminals at the City of Roswell. Throughout the process, Wordes was denied all his rights to defend himself, denied his right to defend his property against illegal foreclosure, and denied his right to pursue any sort of justice in the matter.

During a February interview with Rusty Humphries, a radio talk show host on WGST 640 in Atlanta, a desperate Wordes explained his dire situation at that point, and issued one of his final pleas for help. You can listen to that interview at either of the following two links:
http://airbornecombatengineer.typepad.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D0Md7aIudZE

You can also read a post written by Andrew Wordes himself back in 2009 here:
http://www.backyardchickens.com

After being denied the ability to fight back against illegal foreclosure, county marshals swoop in on Andrew Wordes’ property to evict him, culminating in his death

At the end of his rope and facing insurmountable and unrelenting oppression, Wordes’ final hours were spent in his unlivable home, where Fulton County marshals staged an elaborate demonstration of police state force by illegally raiding Wordes’ property.

According to reports, the standoff concluded when Wordes finally told television reporter Mike Petchenik, who he had called to the scene by phone, to have the marshals leave the property. Moments later, an explosion was heard, and Wordes’ house became engulfed in flames.

When it was safe to go inside, responders found a body inside the home, which was later identified as being that of Wordes. And though the incident appears to have been a desperate suicide, which is how some reports categorized it right off the bat, others are worded as to leave room for the potential possibility of foul play.

City of Roswell must be held responsible for its crimes

While it has not yet been determined whether Wordes’ death was a suicide or a murder, it is clear that the City of Roswell has a whole lot of explaining to do concerning its role in the escalation of this situation over the past four years.

As usual, mainstream media reports about the saga fail to mention how the City of Roswell committed numerous criminal acts in its illegal pursuit of Wordes, or how the city is now officially lying, on record, by claiming that it played no part in working behind the scenes to transfer Wordes’ mortgage and foreclose on his property.

Nevertheless, the truth must come out about this case, and those involved in perpetrating it brought to justice. And this, of course, will start with a full investigation into the dealings of Roswell City Administrator Kay G. Love (http://www.roswellgov.com/Directory.aspx?EID=3), Roswell City councilmember Becky Wynn (http://www.roswellgov.com/directory.aspx?EID=6), Roswell City councilmember Rich Dippolito (http://richforroswell.com/about-rich.php), and Roswell Code Enforcement Supervisor Vicki Barclay (http://www.roswellgov.com/index.aspx?NID=94), as well as Roswell city attorneys and the Roswell Police Department, in the case.

It is unfortunate that NaturalNews only just now learned about the Wordes saga after the man’s death, as it may have been possible to help him earlier on by raising awareness about the injustices being perpetrated against him. But at the very least, we can all fight for justice now by banding together to make sure the facts come to light, and the criminals involved punished for their crimes.

The case also serves as a reminder to others who might be enduring similar harassment to speak up now about what they are going through. The reason why news sites like NaturalNews, InfoWars and others exist is to draw attention to issues like this, and to bring what goes on in the darkness to light — so if you or somebody you know is facing similar harassment by city officials, tell us about it!

Also, be sure to read the following memoriam written by Glenn Horowitz at American Daily Herald about the Wordes case. Horowitz was personally involved in trying to help Wordes in years past, and has put together an excellent summary of the events that took place over the last four years: http://www.americandailyherald.com

See the NaturalNews infographic timeline of events that documents the escalation that ultimately led to Mr. Wordes’ death:

http://www.naturalnews.com

Sources for this article include:

http://www.americandailyherald.com

http://www.examiner.com

http://airbornecombatengineer.typepad.com

http://www.backyardchickens.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D0Md7aIudZE

http://theperspicaciousconservative


William M. Windsor

Fed Blesses Banks’ Foreclosure-Rental Approach – Developments – WSJ

April 5, 2012, 5:55 PM

http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2012/04/05/fed-blesses-banks-foreclosure-rental-approach/

Fed Blesses Banks’ Foreclosure-Rental Approach

By Alan Zibel

Reuters Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

The Federal Reserve set out new polices for banks that decide to rent out foreclosed homes, endorsing a strategy for managing the huge number of distressed properties that have piled up during the housing bust.

The central bank said in a six-page policy statement Thursday that the Fed’s regulations permit the rental of foreclosed properties to tenants “in light of the extraordinary market conditions that currently prevail.” The policy clarified that banks that would otherwise be required to sell off the properties more quickly can turn to rental as a strategy.

Banks can do so “without having to demonstrate continuous active marketing of the property provided that suitable policies and procedures are followed,” the central bank said. The shift to rentals is a significant change in the way banks deal with properties that fall into foreclosure – if loan assistance programs don’t work.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other central bank officials have spoken publicly about the need to encourage banks to rent out foreclosures. “With home prices falling and rents rising, it could make sense in some markets to turn some of the foreclosed homes into rental properties,” Mr. Bernanke said in a February speech.

The central bank said that banks holding large numbers of foreclosures should establish detailed policies for renting foreclosures, including a process to determine whether the properties are safe to occupy and meet local building code requirements.

The Fed said banks should set up criteria by which properties are picked to be rental properties. The banks should establish plans that “describe the general conditions under which the organization believes a rental approach is likely to be successful,” the central bank said.

Last month, Bank of America Corp. announced a plan to allow homeowners at risk of foreclosure to hand over deeds to their houses and sign leases that will let them rent the houses back from the bank at a market rate.

In addition, Fannie Mae is selling 2,500 homes in eight metropolitan areas around the country. The government-controlled mortgage firm is selling the $320 million portfolio to investors, who would be required to turn them into rental properties.

Follow Alan @AlanZibel

 

NootkaBearMcDonald Says:

It never ceases to amaze me….

First the banks screw the people with toxic loans.

They sale the Note, and then Sale the Deed to someone else, make a whole hell of a lot of money.

Then it is just a matter of time until these pick a pay loans, or negative am loans, adjustable rate loans, get to where you can no longer make the payments, no matter how much money you make.  Face it, the payment went into default when you made your first payment if you had a pick-a-pay loan, you started out making payments that were less than the amount of interest each month.

The homeowner defaults, the banks, who cannot foreclose, due to having sold the Note to one entity, and the Deed to another entity, so they have LPS, DocX, CoreLogic,  Prommis Solutions, or some other unsavory 3rd party default services entity, create falsified, robo-signed and forged documents, because ain’t no way in hell, they’re going to let your house get away.

The Bank then forecloses, no matter what they have to do, they will do it to get that home. 

Then…what are they going to do with yet another home?  Of course, the one with the most homes in the end wins.. but we still have a ways to go before then.  In the meantime, different areas are coming up with fees for having houses sitting with no one living in the homes.

BRAINSTORM!!!  RENT IT OUT!!!

So they stole your home, bought it themselves at the auction, turned the paperwork into the Insurance, got 80% of the amount you defaulted on, and they can either sale it (but there is no one left that can get a home loan, they have done foreclosed on them all) or Rent it out.  Just think!!!  When they get used to the idea, they will be renting you your house, foreclosing on you and selling your house in one swift easy move.

Hell, they should just take your house from you, let you stay there, and change it from house payment to rent, without having to do any paperwork or anything…kind of like the issue of not having the needed documents to foreclose on you.  They will wipe out the need for a Promissory Note and a Deed, they will keep you in your home by renting it to you.

L. Randall Wray: The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks

 

L. Randall Wray

Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, University of Missouri–Kansas City

 

The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks

Posted: 03/16/2012 4:09 pm

I’ve been writing about the MERS monster since 2010. Here is one of my early pieces.

I suppose it is now safe to reveal that a staffer of Representative Marcy Kaptur put me on the trail of this fraud — in dollar terms it has to be the single biggest fraud in human history. In sheer utter disregard for law, it is certainly the most audacious fraud in Western history. To tell the truth, I had never heard of MERS until she called. If you recall the Michael Moore movie, Rep. Kaptur stood on the steps and told homeowners facing foreclosure to stay in their homes. She was right: the banksters have no legal claim on the homes they are foreclosing. Foreclosure is theft. Any bank that used MERS has no legal claim on property — there are 65 million such mortgages to which no bank has a legal claim to foreclose.

And, to be sure, even those mortgages that were not run through MERS are suspect if they are handled by any of the five biggest servicers. These servicers keep such shoddy records that they cannot be trusted to accurately credit payments. They’ve been adding on fees and penalties that were unwarranted since they cannot keep track of records.

Folks, there are $7 trillion of securitized mortgages. It was (mostly) the securitization process that demanded fraud. Securitization could never have been profitable — it was a flawed way to go about financing homeownership. It was simply too expensive to compete with Jimmy Stewart thrifts. It required fraud to show profits. (As Bill Black always says: fraud is a sure thing. It is always the most profitable way to run a business — until you get caught.)

In addition to the MERS monster, we also know the securities did not meet the “reps and warranties” claimed. The banks that did the securizations will continue to get sued to take back bad mortgages. They are trying to shovel as many of these back to Fannie and Freddie as they can so that Uncle Sam will take the losses — as discussed in my previous blog they are now doing it through sale of servicing rights.

And of course Uncle Ben has helpfully put a lot of them on the Fed’s balance sheet. This is all part of the cover-up to avoid the obvious: all these big banks are massively insolvent as soon as the courts wake up to the fact that the whole damned real estate finance onion is layer upon layer of fraud.

But let us stick to the MERS fraud.

There should be an immediate and complete halt to all foreclosures in the US, and all foreclosures that have been completed over the past decade should be nullified. Yes that will get messy. But continuing with foreclosures will make the mess immeasurably worse. This foreclosure crisis is not going to stop.

No one should buy any bank-owned real estate because it is probable that eventually the US will return to the rule of law. The property will be returned to the rightful owners — those who were illegally kicked out of their houses.

Now that might be a pipe dream, but if the US is not going to be a nation ruled by law then it will not survive.

The biggest banks — including the GSEs — created MERS and proceeded to destroy our nation’s real estate property law. That is not an overstatement. Robo-signing is just one small and inevitable consequence of the fraud. The truth is that foreclosure cannot go through without fraud because the banks do not have the documents to show clear title.

Banks don’t have them because they do not exist.

There are no records because that was MERS’s business model: destroy all records of ownership while speeding the securitization process.

And since the mortgages themselves were often frauds (designing “affordability products” that homeowners could not afford), many would end in delinquency. So MERS was designed to speed the foreclosure process — it would be so much easier to foreclose if you didn’t bother with documents, records, and property law. Just kick the owners out, take the home, sell it, and reboot the whole scam again.

Another whistleblower has come forward, this one from CBO. Lan Pham was fired because she refused to get with the program: the government is supposed to help the banksters cover up their frauds, NOT expose them! She refused. So she was fired. Now she tells her story.

I won’t repeat her entire story — you can read it at Zerohedge. Here are a few quotes from Lan Pham, the CBO whistle-blower:

I was repeatedly pressured by the CBO Assistant Director, Deborah Lucas… to not write nor discuss issues in the banking sector and mortgage markets that might suggest weakness in these sectors and their consequences on the economy and households…

…Issues at the heart of the foreclosure problems pertain to securitization….and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), which purports to have legal standing on electronic records of ownership on about 65 million…mortgages… MERS…facilitated Wall Street’s ability to expedite the pooling of subprime mortgages into MBSs by bypassing standard ownership transfer procedures as the housing bubble escalated…

The implications have profound financial and economic consequences that would be of compelling interest to Congress and the public, but the CBO sought to silence a discussion of such risks, that in reality have been materializing. These risks put into question the ability of investors or bondholders to make claims on the collateral (the homes) that underlies trillions of dollars in MBSs, the bulk of which are now guaranteed by …Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This affects $10 trillion in residential mortgage debt outstanding, of which $7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBSs)…

The CBO dismissing such issues prevents an analysis of the risks, so that the public may be forced again to shoulder the consequences for which they have not been a given a voice or a choice.

Essentially, the chain of title on securitized mortgages appears broken, whether or not there is a foreclosure. This would pertain to most homebuyers in the past 10 years as most mortgages were securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac providing the guarantees, and the largest banks (“The $7 Trillion MBS Problem – Foreclosure Problems and Buybacks”). Recall that these same entities founded MERS, which expedited securitization and purported to have foreclosure authority from its electronic records of ownership on about 65 million mortgages. “Robo-signing” emerged as fraudulent or defective documents were used or created to establish the legal authority to foreclose as MERS faced legal challenges; as of July 22, 2011, foreclosures could no longer be initiated in MERS’ name. At last year’s pace, some figures suggest it could take lenders in New York 62 years to clear their foreclosure inventory, 49 years in New Jersey and a decade in Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

It is unclear how the recent State attorney generals’ agreement to a proposed yet unpublished terms of the $25 billion robo-signing settlement would repair the chain of title issues that continue to mutate. In January 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the foreclosure actions of two banks for lacking proof of clear title, followed by a decision in October 2011 that a buyer who purchased a house that was improperly foreclosed upon does not make the buyer the new owner of the house; the sale does not transfer the property.

A striking little mention fact of the Massachusetts foreclosure case was that the lenders could not show that the two mortgages were part of the securitization pool. Let’s consider a thought exercise. Others have the raised the question: if the entity that has been taking the homeowners’ mortgage payments is not the real owner, what happens when the true owner(s) of the mortgage shows up? Are homeowners on the hook again for those ‘missed’ mortgage payments? It was not uncommon for mortgages to be sold multiple times, and it is my understanding that loans were intentionally not given unique identifiers as it moved from origination or purchase through to securitization.

This is what I’ve been arguing since 2010. This will not go away — no matter how much the Administration, the Congress, and the banks try to cover it up.

Cross-posted from EconoMonitor

L. Randall Wray: The $7 Trillion Question That Haunts Banks

Honor system for foreclosure paperwork has led to illegal Colorado seizures, lawyer surmises – The Denver Post

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_20160083/honor-system-foreclosure-paperwork-has-led-illegal-colorado

Posted:   03/13/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
March 13, 2012 3:50 PM GMT Updated:   03/13/2012 09:50:25 AM MDT

By David Migoya
The Denver Postdenverpost.com

(Associated Press file photo)

Thousands of Colorado homes were taken in foreclosure in recent years by banks that probably never had the right to do so because no one bothered to challenge the process, said a lawyer who worked for the state’s biggest foreclosure law firm.

Lawyers often blindly sign a document attesting that the bank they represent has the right to foreclose — allowable under Colorado law — without ever actually seeing the original loan documents, attorney Keith Gantenbein said. He worked at Castle Stawiarski, where more foreclosure cases originate than any other law firm statewide.

Gantenbein said he and other lawyers signed “tens of thousands” of documents known as statements of qualified holder. The papers certify lenders’ right to foreclose, generally with little more than an e-mail from a bank or loan servicer telling the lawyers to file the case.

“The discomfort was you had no way to verify the information they provided, and we found many bank errors, and you’re not 100 percent sure you had the right to foreclose,” Gantenbein said Monday. “It happened so frequently that there has to be a large percentage of homeowners who lost their homes to the wrong people.”

Gantenbein, 31, is expected to appear today before a state House committee taking testimony on a bill designed to end the practice and require banks to provide original loan papers before they can foreclose.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, also would require judges to certify that foreclosing lenders have the legal right to take a property. Currently, they only attest that a homeowner is in default of a note and is not serving in the military before ordering a foreclosed home to be sold at public auction.

HB 1156 is scheduled to be heard at 1:30 p.m. today in the Economic and Business Development Committee.

Gantenbein is the first lawyer involved in the foreclosure process to speak publicly. He is among a number of attorneys who have told The Denver Post they were uncomfortable with signing documents attesting a bank’s right to foreclose without actually knowing whether it was true.

“As an inside attorney, … Keith describes the pressure to foreclose quickly and efficiently, not always dotting the I’s,” McCann said. “I admire his bravery in coming forward to help correct a broken and unfair system.”

Gantenbein said Colorado’s century-old public-trustee system of foreclosures — unique in the nation — has been manipulated so often that it’s no longer the unbiased process that was intended.

“I just feel the process is tilted unfavorably to the lender and that borrowers are simply being taken advantage of with a system that isn’t transparent,” said Gantenbein, who estimates he signed as many as 60 qualified-holder statements each day during the more than two years he worked at the Castle law firm.

Lawrence Castle did not respond for comment.

“The foreclosure process in Colorado is one of blind faith,” Gantenbein said. “Colorado’s current laws unfairly allow lenders and law firms and attorneys to railroad through the foreclosure process and hide or gloss over substantive issues.”

The qualified-holder process is legal, created in 2002 and 2006 in paragraphs buried deep inside legislation designed to shore up Colorado’s foreclosure laws.

Castle was among a group of lawyers specializing in foreclosures who helped draft the laws, which were then backed by an association representing the state’s public trustees.

In a Denver Post story published in September on how the law was drafted, several trustees said the qualified-holder section was slipped in without their knowledge. Others said they believed the bill related to battling mortgage fraud, which was another aspect to it.

Gantenbein said it was passed “solely to make foreclosures faster and easier.” The reason: “To get paid faster. It’s all about the money.”

Trustees, many appointed by the governor, by law are required to oversee the foreclosure process fairly and without bias.

Before the change, banks were required to file original loan documents, and homeowners had the right to challenge a bank before a judge.

David Migoya: 303-954-1506 or dmigoya@denverpost.com

Honor system for foreclosure paperwork has led to illegal Colorado seizures, lawyer surmises – The Denver Post

Eleventh Circuit Overturns District Court on FDCPA Dismissal, Rubin Lublin is a Debt Collector and Violated FDCPA!!!

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca11/10-14618/10-14618-2012-03-15.html

Justia.com Opinion Summary: Plaintiff appealed the district court’s dismissal of his civil action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692. The district court concluded that plaintiff’s claim was covered by the FDCPA but that he did not allege acts that violated the FDCPA. Accepting plaintiff’s allegations as true and construing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the statement on the May 2009 notice that BAC was plaintiff’s “creditor” was a false representation and was made by a “debt collector” as defined by section 1692a. Therefore, the complaint stated a claim upon which relief could be granted under the FDCPA and the judgment of the district court was vacated and remanded.

Bourff v. Lublin, LLC :: Eleventh Circuit :: US Courts of Appeals Cases :: US Federal Case Law :: US Case Law :: US Law :: Justia

Guilford County, North Carolina Register of Deeds Want The Mess Cleaned Up!

http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/uploadedFiles/Reuters_Content/2012/03_-_March/guilfordvmers.pdf

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA IN THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE
SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION

NATURE AND SUMMARY OF THIS ACTION
1. This lawsuit seeks to have Defendants clean up the mess they created in
Guilford County’s public property records and to hold Defendants accountable for their unfair and deceptive trade practices.

COUNTY OF GUILFORD GUILFORD COUNTY, ex rel. JEFF L.
THIGPEN, GUILFORD COUNTY  REGISTER OF DEEDS,
Plaintiff,
v.
LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES, INC.;
DOCX, LLC; LPS DEFAULT SOLUTIONS,
INC.; MERSCORP HOLDINGS, INC.;
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC
REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.; WELLS
FARGO BANK, N.A.; WELLS FARGO
HOME MORTGAGE, INC.; BANK OF
AMERICA, N.A.; JPMORGAN CHASE
BANK, N.A.; CHASE HOME FINANCE
LLC; EMC MORTGAGE CORPORATION;
MIDFIRST BANK; SAND CANYON
CORPORATION; CITI RESIDENTIAL
LENDING, INC.; GREEN TREE
SERVICING, LLC; AMERIQUEST
MORTGAGE COMPANY; USAA
FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK; AMERICAN
HOME MORTGAGE SERVICING, INC.;
MOREQUITY, INC.; U.S. BANK
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION;
EQUICREDIT CORPORATION OF
AMERICA; NATIONSCREDIT
FINANCIAL SERVICES CORP.; ARGENT
MORTGAGE COMPANY, LLC; THE
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON; THE
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON TRUST
COMPANY, N.A.; CAPITAL ONE, N.A.;
FIRST FRANKLIN FINANCIAL CORP.;
NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION; and
WEICHERT FINANCIAL SERVICES;
Defendants.

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Withdrawn After Amended To Include Testing Lawmakers

Arthur Delaneyarthur@huffingtonpost.com

Huffington Post

 Welfare Drug Test

Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, speaks on a motion to fine absent Democrats at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.

A Republican member of the Indiana General Assembly withdrew his bill to create a pilot program for drug testing welfare applicants Friday after one of his Democratic colleagues amended the measure to require drug testing for lawmakers.

“There was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill,” said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), sponsor of the original welfare drug testing bill.

The Supreme Court ruled drug testing for political candidates unconstitutional in 1997, striking down a Georgia law. McMillin said he withdrew his bill so he could reintroduce it on Monday with a lawmaker drug testing provision that would pass constitutional muster.

“I’ve only withdrawn it temporarily,” he told HuffPost, stressing he carefully crafted his original bill so that it could survive a legal challenge. Last year a federal judge, citing the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search and seizure, struck down a Florida law that required blanket drug testing of everyone who applied for welfare.

McMillin’s bill would overcome constitutional problems, he said, by setting up a tiered screening scheme in which people can opt-out of random testing. Those who decline random tests would only be screened if they arouse “reasonable suspicion,” either by their demeanor, by being convicted of a crime, or by missing appointments required by the welfare office.

In the past year Republican lawmakers have pursued welfare drug testing in more than 30 states and in Congress, and some bills have even targeted people who claim unemployment insurance and food stamps, despite scanty evidence the poor and jobless are disproportionately on drugs. Democrats in several states have countered with bills to require drug testing elected officials. Indiana state Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) introduced just such an amendment on Friday.

“After it passed, Rep. McMillin got pretty upset and pulled his bill,” Dvorak said. “If anything, I think it points out some of the hypocrisy. … If we’re going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money.”

Dvorak said McMillin was mistaken to think testing the legislature would be unconstitutional, since the stricken Georgia law targeted candidates and not people already holding office.

McMillin, for his part, said he’s coming back with a new bill on Monday, lawmaker testing included. He said he has no problem submitting to a test himself.

“I would think legislators that are here who are responsible for the people who voted them in, they should be more than happy to consent,” he said. “Give me the cup right now and I will be happy to take the test.”

FBI Chief Describes GPS Problems Created By Supreme Court Ruling

INVESTIGATORS CONNECT Group News | LinkedIn

Written by Pursuit Wire|03/12/2012|0 Comments

Filed in: Law Enforcement, Legislation, Technology

You remember that one court ruling that forced the FBI to shut down every GPS receiver they currently were using to track their suspects? well, one of the problems was that the FBI was unable to find the transmitters. But the same Supreme Court ruling that bars police from installing GPS technology to track suspects without first getting authorization for a judge is creating more “financial” problems for the FBI.

The agency has been forced deactivate its GPS tracking devices in some investigations, FBI director Robert Mueller said Wednesday.

Mueller told a congressional panel that the bureau has turned off a substantial number of GPS units and is using surveillance by agents instead.

“Putting a physical surveillance team out with six, eight, 12 persons is tremendously time intensive,” Mueller told a House Appropriations subcommittee. The court ruling “will inhibit our ability to use this in a number of surveillances where it has been tremendously beneficial.”

The Supreme Court voted unanimously in favor of the measure in January

 

Full story on CBS DC:  http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/03/07/fbi-chief-describes-gps-problems-created-by-supreme-court-ruling/

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.

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DocX Faces Foreclosure Fraud Charges in Missouri – NYTimes.com

 

Company Faces Forgery Charges in Mo. Foreclosures

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: February 6, 2012

One of the largest companies that provided home foreclosure services to lenders across the nation, DocX, has been indicted on forgery charges by a Missouri grand jury — one of the few criminal actions to follow reports of widespread improprieties against homeowners.

Enlarge This Image

Kelley McCall/Associated Press

Chris Koster, the Missouri attorney general, is investigating DocX.

A grand jury in Boone County, Mo., handed up an indictment Friday accusing DocX of 136 counts of forgery in the preparation of documents used to evict financially strained borrowers from their homes. Lorraine O. Brown, the company’s founder and former president, was indicted on the same charges.

Employees of DocX, a unit of Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, Fla., executed and notarized millions of mortgage documents for big banks and loan servicers over the years. Lender Processing closed the company in April 2010, after evidence emerged of apparent forgeries in these documents, a practice now called robo-signing.

Chris Koster, the Missouri attorney general, will prosecute the case. “The grand jury indictment alleges that mass-produced fraudulent signatures on notarized real estate documents constitutes forgery,” Mr. Koster said in a statement. “Today’s indictment reflects our firm conviction that when you sign your name to a legal document, it matters.”

Mr. Koster said his office’s investigation was continuing. This suggests he may hope to persuade Ms. Brown to cooperate in his investigation of the parent company. If convicted, Ms. Brown could face up to seven years in prison for each forgery count. DocX could be fined up to $10,000 for each forgery conviction.

Scott Rosenblum, a lawyer at Rosenblum, Schwartz, Rogers & Glass who represents DocX said: “We have not had an opportunity to review the indictment at this point. The company intends to enter a plea of not guilty.”

According to the indictment, Ms. Brown acted “knowingly in concert with DocX and its employees” to mislead and defraud the Boone County recorder of deeds. The documents central to the indictments were deeds of release, which eliminate a previous claim on an asset. Such releases are typically issued when a mortgage has been paid off.

A lawyer for Ms. Brown said that she intends to enter a not guilty plea and that she had no criminal intent.

Since evidence of pervasive foreclosure improprieties emerged, state officials have mostly brought civil suits against the institutions and law firms that filed the fraudulent documents. Individuals in Nevada, for example, have been charged with notary fraud, but beyond that matter, criminal cases arising from foreclosure practices have been uncommon.

The Missouri grand jury found that the person whose name appeared on 68 documents executed on behalf of a lender — someone named Linda Green — was not the person who had signed the papers. The documents were submitted to the Boone County recorder of deeds as though they were genuine, Mr. Koster said.

A recent civil lawsuit against Lender Processing by the attorney general of Nevada found that former workers at one of its divisions had described their work as “surrogate signers.” One worker who was quoted in the complaint said she had been paid $11 an hour and told that her job was “to sign somebody else’s signature on documents.” The person said she had signed roughly 2,000 documents a day for months, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to deed releases, DocX surrogate signers routinely executed assignments of mortgage, which reflect changes in ownership.

The indictment is only the latest legal assault on the company and its parent, Lender Processing. In August 2011, American Home Mortgage Servicing, a large loan servicer, sued Lender Processing contending that more than 30,000 residential mortgages that it had handled across the country contained “improper execution, notarization and recording of assignments of mortgage.” DocX executed such paperwork for American Home from April 2008 through November 2009, the lawsuit said.

Last April, Lender Processing signed a consent order with the nation’s top financial regulators, agreeing to remediate improperly executed mortgage documents and to correct its default business practices. Michelle Kersch, a Lender Processing spokeswoman, said recently that the company now executed documents “with stringent controls in place” to ensure compliance with all rules.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 8, 2012

An article on Tuesday about indictments on forgery charges of the loan processing firm DocX and its founder and former president, Lorraine O. Brown, misstated the given name for the lawyer representing the company. He is Scott Rosenblum, not Chris. (The lawyer defending Ms. Brown is Chris Rosenbloom.)

A version of this article appeared in print on February 7, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Company Faces Forgery Charges in Foreclosures in Missouri.

DocX Faces Foreclosure Fraud Charges in Missouri – NYTimes.com

Lender Processing Unit Indicted in Missouri for Forging Mortgage Documents- Bloomberg

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-07/lender-processing-unit-indicted-in-missouri-for-forging-mortgage-documents

Lender Processing Unit Indicted in Missouri for Forging Mortgage Documents

By Phil Milford
February 07, 2012 8:24 AM EST

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Docx LLC, a unit of Lender Processing Services Inc., was charged in Missouri with forgery and making a false declaration related to mortgage documents it processed.

A Boone County grand jury handed down the 136-count indictment against Docx and founder Lorraine Brown alleging that a person whose name appears on 68 notarized deeds of release didn’t actually sign the paperwork, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement yesterday.

“When you sign your name to a legal document, it matters,” Koster said. “Mass-producing fraudulent signatures on millions of real estate documents across America constitutes forgery.”

Lender Processing, based in Jacksonville, Florida, says about half of all U.S. mortgages by dollar volume are serviced using its loan-servicing platform.

Michelle Kersch, a Lender Processing spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the indictment. The indictment was reported earlier in the New York Times.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

Lender Processing Unit Indicted in Missouri for Forging Mortgage Documents- Bloomberg

For America’s hard-hit homeowners, little relief from settlement | Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/10/us-mortgage-settlement-homeowners-idUSTRE81907T20120210

For America’s hard-hit homeowners, little relief from settlement

Houses under construction are seen in Phoenix, Arizona, August 23, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Houses under construction are seen in Phoenix, Arizona, August 23, 2011. Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

By Jilian Mincer

NEW YORK | Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:15am EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Crystal Morello’s family pleaded for months with their lender for a cheaper mortgage on their family home in Belleville, Michigan. But time ran out last summer, and they left before they were evicted.

“The bank was reassuring us that it was helping us out,” says Morello, 26. “While we were getting a loan modification in one department, we were getting foreclosed in another.”

Nothing will get Morello back to the house she lived in since she was three, certainly not the small part her family might receive of a record $25 billion settlement announced Thursday between the government and five big U.S. banks accused of abusive mortgage practices.

Checks of up to $2,000 each are expected to reach 750,000 households who lost homes through the foreclosure process between 2008 and 2011.

As part of the deal, the banks also agreed to cut the amount of principal owed by homeowners and provide lower-interest rate loans to the tune of $17 billion for borrowers who are behind on their payments and who are at risk of foreclosure.

A further $3 billion is on tap to help homeowners who are current on their mortgages but are unable to refinance because they owe more than their homes are worth.

Critics of Thursday’s agreement, like Margaret Becker, director of the homeowner defense project at Staten Island Legal Services in New York, say the deal is “paltry”, at best.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a lot of meaning for consumers,” she says. The $25 billion settlement “is a miniscule amount of money and doesn’t begin to approach the banks’ legal liability for the fraud.”

New York state alone has 250,000 mortgages that are in foreclosure or more than 60 days late, Becker noted.

An estimated 10.7 million U.S. borrowers, or 22.1 percent, of all borrowers are ‘underwater’, according to Corelogic, a company that tracks real estate data.

They are believed to owe $700 billion more than their houses are worth as a result of the crash in U.S. housing prices.

Thursday’s agreement paves the way for the process of deciding which homeowners qualify for the $25 billion and many hurdles remain.

Borrowers have to be behind on their payments, and, in most cases, the loans have to be owned by the banks. Homeowners with mortgages held by state-run U.S. housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not eligible.

Even those who stand to benefit from the settlement aren’t convinced it will work. Some like Roger Duke, 41, plan to remain in the courts. “We’ve given up altogether on modifications,” says Duke, 41, whose Wellington, Florida home is in foreclosure. “We’ve tried everything the government has put out.”

When Duke, a sales manager at an industrial firm, purchased his home in 2005, he never imagined its value would plummet to $230,000 from $420,000. But Duke’s problems began almost immediately when he tried to refinance an adjustable-rate mortgage. One battle lead to another as the original lender fell into bankruptcy and the loan papers went missing.

“Our case is a perfect example of what is wrong with any kind of settlement because people need to go to jail for something like this,” he says. “It’s been a nightmare, but we’re in it for the long haul.”

In the meantime, people like Kathleen Dalton wait, worry and hope their banks will also settle with the government.

Dalton, who once owned her own insurance business, has spent the last three years battling for a permanent loan modification for her West Palm Beach, Florida condominium, which has dropped in value to $50,000 from $100,000.

Most recently, the lender sent her an offer for a temporary modification at a higher rate than her original mortgage with no terms nor explanation.

“I just want to save my home,” says Dalton, 61. “I hope that’s going to happen, but I don’t know because I’ve had my hopes go through the roof and then let down so many times that it’s affected me physically.”

For borrowers like Morello, the settlement is too little, too late. While it’s up to her parents, her family likely would use any money they get to repair the roof of the 1940s bungalow they purchased in Dearborn Heights, Michigan for $10,000 by pooling cash. Morello now lives there with her two-year-old daughter, her parents, a cousin, a dog and a cat.

“I’ll never get a mortgage again for any reason,” Morello says.

(Additional reporting by Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Richard Pullin)

For America’s hard-hit homeowners, little relief from settlement | Reuters

Special report: Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin | Reuters

Lest We Not Forget…

Special report: Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin

Fall leaves blow past an empty home (C) seen in a well kept neighborhood where the house is listed on the auction block during the Wayne County tax foreclosures auction of almost 9,000 properties in Detroit, Michigan, October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Fall leaves blow past an empty home (C) seen in a well kept neighborhood where the house is listed on the auction block during the Wayne County tax foreclosures auction of almost 9,000 properties in Detroit, Michigan, October 22, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

By Scot J. Paltrow

JACKSONVILLE, Florida | Mon Dec 6, 2010 2:10pm EST

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) – Lender Processing Services is riding the waves of foreclosures sweeping the United States, but in late October its CEO, Jeff Carbiener, found himself needing to reassure investors in the $2.8 billion company.

Although profits were rolling in, LPS’s stock had taken a hit in the wake of revelations that mortgage companies across the country had filed fraudulent documents in foreclosures cases. Earlier in the year, the company, which handles more than half of the nation’s foreclosures, had disclosed that it was under federal criminal investigation and admitted that employees at a small subsidiary had falsely signed foreclosure documents.

Still, Carbiener told the Wall Street analysts in an October 29 conference call that LPS’s legal concerns were overblown, and the stock has jumped 13 percent since its close the day before the call.

But a Reuters investigation shows that LPS’s legal woes are more serious than he let on. Public records reveal that the company’s LPS Default Solutions unit produced documents of dubious authenticity in far larger quantities than it has disclosed, and over a much longer timespan.

Questionable signing and notarization practices weren’t limited to its subsidiary, called DocX, but occurred in at least one of LPS’s own offices, mortgage assignments filed in county recorders’ offices show. And rather than halt such practices after the federal investigation got underway, the company shifted the signing to firms with which it has close business ties. LPS provided personnel to work in the new signing operations, according to information from an LPS spokeswoman and court records including an October 21 ruling by a judge in Brooklyn, New York. Records in county recorders’ offices, and in the judge’s opinion, show that “robosigning” and preparation of apparently false documents went on at these sites on a large scale.

In one instance, it helped set up a massive signing operation at the nearby office of a major client, a spokeswoman for the client, American Home Mortgage Servicing, confirmed. LPS-hired notaries who worked there said in interviews that troves of documents were improperly handled. They said that about 200 affidavits per day were robosigned during the two months the two notaries remained there.

A spokeswoman for LPS confirmed to Reuters that it had helped other firms establish operations that performed the same function. LPS spokeswoman Michelle Kersch didn’t specify which firms. But beginning early in 2010, county recorders’ records show, signing shifted also to law firms under contract with LPS.

Interviews with key players and court records also show that pending investigations and lawsuits pose a bigger threat to the company than Carbiener let on.

The criminal investigation in Jacksonville by federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is intensifying. The same goes for a separate inquiry by the Florida attorney general’s office. Individuals with direct knowledge of the federal inquiry said that prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury, begun calling witnesses and subpoenaed records from LPS.

The company confirmed to Reuters that it has hired Paul McNulty, former deputy U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, to represent it in the investigation. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on the probe.

The U.S. Comptroller of the Currency’s office, which is responsible for supervising national banks, also announced in November that it had teamed up with the Federal Reserve to conduct an on-site examination of LPS.

Meanwhile, the threats from four class action lawsuits filed in federal courts appear to be greater than the company has indicated, especially one filed in Mississippi. In a highly unusual move, a unit of the U.S. Justice Department has joined that suit as a plaintiff. The lawsuit alleges that LPS extracted many millions of dollars in kickbacks from law firms through an illegal fee-sharing arrangement, in exchange for doling out lucrative foreclosure work to them.

The lawsuit also charges that LPS illegally practices law and routinely misleads homeowners and federal bankruptcy judges. Carbiener has said there is little reason to worry about the Mississippi suit because the company already prevailed in a federal lawsuit in Texas that had made nearly identical accusations. But court records in that case show that the lawsuit was dropped without any ruling on the merits of the allegations.

Copies of LPS internal documents obtained by Reuters and testimony in lawsuits shed new light on the company’s unusual dealings with its vast network of law firms. LPS relentlessly pressed them for speed. The result was almost instant filing of foreclosure documents, mostly prepared by clerical workers, not lawyers, according to court records, including deposition testimony by LPS officials. Several judicial opinions from around the country and evidence from investigations in Florida show that these documents often were riddled with inaccurate information about the amount homeowners owed, and were signed and notarized en masse without anyone at the firms checking the information in them.

Under LPS’s system, law firms that were slower, often because their lawyers carefully prepared and reviewed court documents before filing them, were effectively punished, according to deposition testimony and other sources. The computer automatically assigned bad ratings to these firms, and the flow of work assignments to them dried up.

A BOOMING BUSINESS

Few firms benefited more from the collapse of the U.S. housing boom than LPS. Spun off as an independent company in 2008, the company has seen its profits, with big help from its mortgage default services business, reach $232 million for the first nine months of 2010. That is a nearly 15 percent increase from the same period in 2009. Its revenue last year was $2.4 billion, up from $1.8 billion in 2008.

And business continues to surge. Carbiener told analysts on the October 29 call that “we continue to gain market share across all key business segments.” In a November 23 report prepared for investors and clients, LPS said banks are pushing to foreclose on properties as rapidly as possible, driving “the foreclosure inventory rate to all-time highs.” It said that at the end of October, the number of properties going into foreclosure is “7.4 times historical averages and rising.”

The banks’ push to evict homeowners faster and in bigger numbers than ever before makes LPS’s services even more crucial to them. LPS’s success is built on its advanced, super-automated system that is highly efficient, low-cost, and speeds foreclosures through to completion. The “LPS Desktop” starts foreclosure actions, assigns work to law firms and supervises the cases to conclusion with almost no intervention by humans. (LPS says foreclosure actions are started by its clients, the loan servicers. But copies of agreements with servicers obtained by Reuters show that LPS has direct access to the banks’ and other servicers’ computer systems, and LPS detects defaults and initiates foreclosures based on parameters given to it by the banks.)

Few loan servicers could resist handing over key tasks to the company. Today, LPS boasts a client list that includes 14 of the 15 biggest loan servicers, with household names such as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase — its two biggest clients, according to LPS’s most recent 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company has said that Bank of America joined as a client earlier this year. LPS says that all 50 of the nation’s largest banks use at least some of its services.

In essence, LPS is a giant electronic butler for the big banks and other companies in the industry. It attends to routine tasks the loan servicers prefer not to do themselves. These include tracking mortgage payments, calculating amounts owed to investors who purchased bundles of mortgages, ensuring that property taxes and insurance get paid — and automatically filing foreclosure actions when homeowners go into default.

The pending investigations and lawsuits, however, are focusing on whether LPS, in its zeal to serve its clients, broke the rules, in part by replacing missing bank documents with fictitious ones to make foreclosure cases go through.

SIGNATURE TROUBLE

The first sign of legal problems for LPS emerged earlier this year, when the company disclosed that federal prosecutors in Florida had opened a criminal investigation into apparently forged signatures on foreclosure documents prepared by DocX, the shuttered subsidiary located in a small office park in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Fidelity National Financial, LPS’s former parent, had bought DocX in 2005. The unit soon became a high-speed mill, churning out mortgage assignments — many of which are now known to be of doubtful validity — on behalf of banks and investor trusts, helping them to foreclose on homeowners.

Mortgage assignments are documents transferring ownership, usually from the original lenders to trusts owned by investors who bought securitized packages of mortgages. Loan servicers typically file foreclosure actions on behalf of the trusts when any of their mortgages go into default. But cases popping up all over the country show that the original lenders never handed over ownership of mortgages to the trusts. Assignments establishing ownership of a mortgage are required as evidence in foreclosure cases.

DocX turned out tens of thousands of newly-minted mortgage assignments, purporting to show transfers of ownership long after the mortgages should have been handed over to the trusts, according to the standard provisions in trust agreements.

Thousands of these bore the signature of DocX employee Linda Green. The signatures didn’t look alike, however, and LPS eventually confirmed that multiple DocX employees had signed her name. Some of the assignments stood out because they listed the new owner of the mortgages as “bogus assignee” or “bad bene.”

LPS spokeswoman Michelle Kersch said “bogus assignee” and “bad bene” were simply standard placeholders on document templates which the employees inadvertently had neglected to fill in with the proper names.

In his October 29 conference call with analysts, Carbiener said that when the company discovered the DocX wrongdoing in December 2009, it immediately stopped it and soon shut DocX down. But it turns out that DocX continued operating much longer than LPS originally had acknowledged. In a written response last week to questions from Reuters, LPS’s Kersch confirmed that DocX actually wasn’t closed until August 2010. She said: “The last document signed by DocX was on May 14, 2010.” But she said no improper signing had occurred there since 2009.

DUBIOUS DOCUMENTS

Hundreds of public records examined by Reuters show that production of suspect mortgage assignments was not limited to DocX.

The records indicate that employees in one of LPS’s own offices, in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, signed and notarized large numbers of documents which for multiple reasons appear invalid. Records filed with county recorders’ offices show that the Minnesota office continued to turn out these documents at least through the end of January 2010.

Dozens of assignments were signed by LPS Minnesota office employees who listed themselves as corporate officers of banks and other loan servicers, a sampling of public records from counties in five states shows. As at DocX, the assignments were signed years after the mortgages should have been transferred to the investment trusts.

The signature of one of these LPS employees, Liquenda Allotey, appears on thousands of mortgage assignments. Homeowners’ lawyers and at least one judge — federal bankruptcy judge Joel B. Rosenthal in Massachusetts — have noted that Allotey’s signature is a simple zigzag line, raising questions about whether other individuals may have signed his name. Titles listed below the signature identify him variously as “vice president” or “attorney in fact” for at least 13 banks and mortgage companies.

LPS spokeswoman Kersch said Allotey signed all of the documents himself, and said all mortgage assignments prepared in the Minnesota office “were executed under a lawful grant of authority.” She didn’t spell out, however, how such authority was given.

In any event, two other aspects of many mortgage assignments signed by Minnesota employees raise strong doubts about the documents’ legitimacy.

State laws, backed up by court decisions, require that mortgage investment trusts and others filing to foreclose on houses possess a valid mortgage assignment at the time they file for foreclosure. If it doesn’t, the laws require that the case be dismissed.

An examination of county recorders’ records turned up dozens of mortgage assignments signed and notarized by the Minnesota office weeks or months after a foreclosure case had been filed. Records show that even though invalid, the belated mortgage assignments often enabled foreclosure cases to sail through.

April Charney, an attorney who represents homeowners at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, said in a Reuters interview that in most instances homeowners can’t afford lawyers and don’t challenge the foreclosures.

In many states, judges often approve the foreclosures without carefully examining the documents, she said. And at least until recently, when widespread questions were raised about the legitimacy of mortgage documents, judges routinely accepted belated mortgage assignments — even in cases contested by the homeowners, she said.

Equally difficult to explain are mortgage assignments signed by LPS Minnesota employees purporting to be officers of lenders that no longer existed. For example, in January 2010, two Minnesota employees jointly signed one as officers of Encore Credit Corp., defunct since 2008.

On other occasions, LPS employees signed as authorized officers of American Brokers Conduit, well after the subprime lender had been liquidated in bankruptcy. And in many instances they signed as officers of Sand Canyon Corp. In a March 18, 2009 affidavit, Sand Canyon’s president, Dale M. Sugimoto, said the company had completely exited the mortgage business in 2008 and had no mortgages to assign.

In written answers to questions, LPS spokeswoman Kersch didn’t respond directly to questions about the employees signing mortgage assignments after the foreclosures had been filed, or about signing on behalf of defunct companies. Instead, she said that the LPS employees signed mortgage assignments because lawyers who had filed foreclosure cases asked them to. She said the lawyers “decide when and if an assignment of mortgage is required.”

Shortly after the federal investigation was launched in December 2009, LPS began moving to curtail document-signing activities at the company itself. LPS says that the Minnesota office stopped signing mortgage assignments at the end of January 2010, and public records appear to confirm that. Carbiener said during the analysts meeting that LPS has now ended all signing of mortgage assignments and affidavits at the company.

Without someone to draw up replacement documents, though, LPS’s clients faced potential hardship, because so many mortgages were never assigned by lenders, as required, in the first place. Without these documents, thousands of foreclosures all over the country would come to a halt.

Reuters has learned that rather than stamping out the practice, LPS in December 2009 began transferring signing operations out of its own offices and into those of firms it has close relationships with. Kersch confirmed that LPS sent personnel to work “at client locations to assist clients during this period.”

For example, LPS arranged through a local employment service to hire about a dozen notaries, sending them to work at a new signing operation set up in the Jacksonville office of American Home Mortgage Servicing, one of LPS’s biggest clients.

Records from county recorders’ offices show that at least as recently as October, American Home Mortgage Servicing employees signed exactly the same type of questionable mortgages assignments that LPS staffers at DocX and in Minnesota had signed. These included assignments done on behalf of defunct companies like American Brokers Conduit, and after foreclosure actions already had been filed. Reuters obtained a partial list of the names of the LPS-hired notaries. Copies of mortgage assignments available publicly show that these notaries notarized many of these assignments, including ones signed on behalf of defunct companies.

In interviews, two of the notaries, who asked that they not be identified, said the American Home Mortgage Servicing office also set up a “robosigning” operation for affidavits, another type of document required in foreclosure cases. The employees who signed the affidavits were swearing that they had verified the facts listed in them, such as the specific amounts owed by homeowners.

But the two notaries, who said they were dismissed after raising questions with supervisors about the practices, said that each morning about a half-dozen American Home Mortgage Servicing employees in about an hour would sign some 200 affidavits received via LPS’s computer system, without reading them, let alone verifying the facts they contained. “In that time, come on, you have not verified figures in 200 documents. That’s impossible,” one of the notaries said.

Philippa Brown, spokeswoman for American Home Mortgage Servicing, said in an e-mailed statement that “We recently had independent audits conducted on our processes and it was found that at no time was AHMSI (American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc.) ‘robosigning’.” She confirmed that the company had used DocX until December 2009, and then “contracted with LPS” to provide it with notaries “in connection with execution of affidavits and other documents” in American Home Mortgage Servicing’s office. Concerning assignments the company signed for defunct lenders, Brown said American Home Mortgage Servicing “obtains authorization from the previous parties,” but did not explain how.

LPS acknowledged that it had sent notaries to several companies to help them set up signing operations. Kersch said: “When LPS Default Solutions group transitioned away from signing documents on behalf of its customers, in some cases it employed notaries who worked on-site at client locations to assist clients during this period.” The spokeswoman confirmed that LPS provided training at these sites, but said it was only “technical” training on using the LPS Desktop system.

TROLLING FOR CASES

It remains unclear whether LPS faces more legal risks because of its document-signing operations or because of its odd arrangement with the lawyers assigned to file foreclosure actions.

Reuters has obtained new details of how the relationship worked from copies of the “network agreements” the law firms sign with LPS, among other sources. Interviews and records from court cases show that this system often worked to the detriment of homeowners struggling to keep their homes.

LPS says that clients are the ones who pick law firms to represent them in foreclosure cases. But copies of its agreements with clients reviewed by Reuters state that the company’s clients sign up to use LPS’s network of lawyer. The agreements and depositions from lawsuits show that when a homeowner goes into default, the LPS system automatically selects a law firm in its network, sometimes using criteria set by a client, and transmits an offer of work that pops up on the law firm’s LPS Desktop screen.

The firm has no more than a couple of hours to accept the job. And if it does, it immediately agrees to pay an up-front fee to LPS. The law firms also pay LPS a monthly fee for use of the LPS Desktop system.

The company denies that it charges fees to lawyers in exchange for assignments of work. Kersch said the company charges fees strictly for the use of LPS’s computer system. Carbiener on October 29 said: “Our services are nonlegal, and are similar to any other operational cost of a law firm such as the licensing costs they pay for word-processing software or accounting software.”

But in a lawsuit deposition on January 13, 2010, Christian Hymer, an LPS first vice president, testified that the company often signs up the law firms that are part of its network. In addition, until recently, lawyers signed work agreements only with LPS, not with the loan servicers. Kersch said that currently lawyers are required to sign separate agreements both with LPS and the servicers.

Laws in nearly all states forbid lawyers to share legal fees with nonlawyers. The laws are intended to prevent kickbacks for funneling legal work to an attorney, the cost of which would be passed on to unsuspecting clients or, as in foreclosure cases, billed to homeowners.

LPS isn’t a law firm. The Mississippi class action suit alleges that LPS is a nonlawyer middleman between the servicers (acting on behalf of trusts that own the mortgages) and the lawyers. It alleges that the company illegally decides which law firms get to file foreclosure cases, and makes decisions about what they file.

RED, YELLOW, GREEN

Interviews, deposition transcripts and LPS’s own records underline that the company keeps its clients happy and maximizes its own fee income by whipping law firms to gallop cases through the courts.

The law firms are on a stopwatch: Kersch confirmed that the LPS Desktop system automatically times how long each firm takes to complete a task. It assigns firms that turn out work the fastest a “green” rating; slower ones “yellow” and “red” for those that take the longest.

Court records show that green ratings go to firms that jump on offered assignments from their LPS computer screens and almost instantly turn out ready-to-file court pleadings, often using teams of low-skilled clerical workers with little oversight from the lawyers. Copies of company newsletters from shortly before LPS was spun off show that the company each year gave awards to the law firms that were consistently the fastest.

Firms that move more slowly were slapped with “red” designations. For them, work offers dried up.

LPS denies that the rating system is used to punish slower firms. Kersch said the ratings are generated so that law firms can compare their speed and efficiency with an average calculated for a wide group of firms.

LEGAL AFFAIRS

The term “robosigners” was coined to describe the low-level clerical workers who signed many thousands of affidavits for foreclosure cases, swearing to the truth of facts they had never checked. But it turns out that the professionals at these firms — the attorneys who have strict legal and ethical obligations to file truthful documents in court — have carried out similar activities on a large scale. They allowed others to sign their names to multiple types of court pleadings they had never read or bothered to check, involving many types of documents.

In an April 2009 court decision, Diane Weiss Sigmund, a federal bankruptcy judge in Philadelphia, specifically faulted lawyers whose firm filed LPS-transmitted documents in court using clerical workers to sign the name of a lawyer who hadn’t looked at them.

In that case, it turned out that, contrary to the documents supplied via the LPS system, the homeowners weren’t in default on their mortgage.

Referring to the LPS computer system, the judge stated, “the flaws in this automated process become apparent.” She added: “An attorney must cease processing files and act like a lawyer.”

Jacksonville legal aid attorney Charney says that carelessly prepared documents, containing basic errors, have been used to foreclose on a big portion of the homeowners who have lost their houses.

LPS denies that its system encourages carelessness by law firms. In the October 29 conference call, Chief Executive Carbiener said that based on routine internal reviews, “we are not aware of any defects in our signing and review processes that resulted in the wrongful foreclosure of any borrower.”

(Editing by Jim Impoco and Claudia Parsons)

Special report: Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin | Reuters

FBI warns of threat from anti-government extremists | Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/07/us-usa-fbi-extremists-idUSTRE81600V20120207

FBI warns of threat from anti-government extremists

By Patrick Temple-West

WASHINGTON | Mon Feb 6, 2012 7:21pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Anti-government extremists opposed to taxes and regulations pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers in the United States, the FBI warned on Monday.

These extremists, sometimes known as “sovereign citizens,” believe they can live outside any type of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference.

The extremists may refuse to pay taxes, defy government environmental regulations and believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard.

Routine encounters with police can turn violent “at the drop of a hat,” said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI’s counterterrorism division.

“We thought it was important to increase the visibility of the threat with state and local law enforcement,” he said.

In May 2010, two West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers were shot and killed in an argument that developed after they pulled over a “sovereign citizen” in traffic.

Last year, an extremist in Texas opened fire on a police officer during a traffic stop. The officer was not hit.

Legal convictions of such extremists, mostly for white-collar crimes such as fraud, have increased from 10 in 2009 to 18 each in 2010 and 2011, FBI agents said.

“We are being inundated right now with requests for training from state and local law enforcement on sovereign-related matters,” said Casey Carty, an FBI supervisory special agent.

FBI agents said they do not have a tally of people who consider themselves “sovereign citizens.”

J.J. MacNab, a former tax and insurance expert who is an analyst covering the sovereign movement, has estimated that it has about 100,000 members.

Sovereign members often express particular outrage at tax collection, putting Internal Revenue Service employees at risk.

(Reporting By Patrick Temple-West; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)

FBI warns of threat from anti-government extremists | Reuters

Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded – NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/business/mortgage-tornado-warning-unheeded.html?_r=2&ref=business

A Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded

Gary Bogdon for The New York Times

After his own experience dealing with a mortgage mess, Nye Lavalle set out to learn all he could about the mortgage industry, traveling nationwide to dig into records. In 2003, he compiled a dossier of practices at Fannie Mae. In hindsight, the problems he found look like a blueprint of today’s foreclosure crisis.

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: February 4, 2012

YEARS before the housing bust — before all those home loans turned sour and millions of Americans faced foreclosure — a wealthy businessman in Florida set out to blow the whistle on the mortgage game.

His name is Nye Lavalle, and he first came to attention not in finance but in sports and advertising. He turned heads in marketing circles by correctly predicting that Nascar and figure skating would draw huge followings in the 1990s.

But after losing a family home to foreclosure, under what he thought were fishy circumstances, Mr. Lavalle, founder of a consulting firm called the Sports Marketing Group, began a new life as a mortgage sleuth. In 2003, when home prices were flying high, he compiled a dossier of improprieties on one of the giants of the business, Fannie Mae.

In hindsight, what he found looks like a blueprint of today’s foreclosure crisis. Even then, Mr. Lavalle discovered, some loan-servicing companies that worked for Fannie Mae routinely filed false foreclosure documents, not unlike the fraudulent paperwork that has since made “robo-signing” a household term. Even then, he found, the nation’s electronic mortgage registry was playing fast and loose with the law — something that courts have belatedly recognized, too.

You might wonder why Mr. Lavalle didn’t speak up. But he did. For two years, he corresponded with Fannie executives and lawyers. Fannie later hired a Washington law firm to investigate his claims. In May 2006, that firm, using some of Mr. Lavalle’s research, issued a confidential, 147-page report corroborating many of his findings.

And there, apparently, is where it ended. There is little evidence that Fannie Mae’s management or board ever took serious action. Known internally as O.C.J. Case No. 5595, in reference to the company’s Office of Corporate Justice, this 2006 report suggests just how deep, and how far back, our mortgage and foreclosure problems really go.

“It is axiomatic that the practice of submitting false pleadings and affidavits is unlawful,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “With his complaint, Mr. Lavalle has identified an issue that Fannie Mae needs to address promptly.”

What Fannie Mae knew about abusive foreclosure practices, and when it knew it, are crucial questions as Congress and the Obama administration weigh the future of the company and its cousin, Freddie Mac. These giants eventually blew themselves apart and, so far, they have cost taxpayers $150 billion. But before that, their size and reach — not only through their own businesses, but also through the vast amount of work they farm out to law firms and loan servicers — meant that Fannie and Freddie shaped the standards for the entire mortgage industry.

Almost all of the abuses that Mr. Lavalle began identifying in 2003 have since come to widespread attention. The revelations have roiled the mortgage industry and left Fannie, Freddie and big banks with potentially enormous legal liabilities. More worrying is that the kinds of problems that Mr. Lavalle flagged so long ago, and that Fannie apparently ignored, have evicted people from their homes through improper or fraudulent foreclosures.

Until a few weeks ago, Mr. Lavalle, 54, had never seen O.C.J. 5595. He had hoped to get a copy after helping Fannie’s lawyers, at Baker & Hostetler in Washington, complete it. He didn’t.

But after learning about its findings from a reporter for The Times, Mr. Lavalle said, “Fannie Mae, its directors, servicers and lawyers appeared to have an institutional policy of turning a willful blind eye to evidence of mortgage origination and servicing fraud.”

He went on: “When confronted directly with this evidence, Fannie not only failed to correct and remedy the abuses, it assisted in continuing the frauds via institutional practices that concealed fraudulent foreclosures.”

A spokesman for Fannie Mae said in a statement last week that the company quickly addressed several issues that were raised in the 2006 report and that it took action on other issues associated with foreclosures in 2010. “We want to prevent foreclosure whenever possible, but when foreclosures cannot be avoided they must move forward in a timely, appropriate fashion,” he said.

Fannie Mae would not say whether it had shared O.J.C. 5595 with its board of directors or its regulator, then known as the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. James B. Lockhart III, who headed that regulator in 2006, said he did not recall reading the report. “I probably did not see it as back then foreclosures were not a very big deal,” he said.

But another report published last fall by the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the current regulator, briefly mentioned some of the problems that Mr. Lavalle had raised. (It didn’t mention him by name.) It also faulted Fannie Mae, saying it failed to address foreclosure improprieties that had surfaced years before.

LIKE most people, Nye Lavalle had little interest in the mortgage industry until things got personal. Raised in comfortable surroundings in Grosse Pointe, Mich., just outside Detroit, he began his business career in the 1970s, managing professional tennis players. In the 1980s, he ran SMG, a thriving consulting and research firm.

Then he tried to pay off a loan on a home his family had bought in Dallas in 1988. The balance was roughly $100,000, and the property was valued at about $175,000, Mr. Lavalle said. But when he combed through figures provided by his lender, Savings of America, he found substantial discrepancies in the accounting that had inflated his bill by $18,000. The loan servicer had repeatedly charged him late fees for payments he had made on time, as well as for unnecessary appraisals and force-placed hazard insurance, he said.

Mr. Lavalle refused to pay. The bank refused to bend. The balance rose as the bank tacked on lawyers’ fees and the loan was deemed delinquent. The fight continued after his mortgage was allegedly sold to EMC, a Bear Stearns unit.

Unlike most people, Mr. Lavalle had the time and money to fight. He persuaded his family to help him pay for a lawsuit against EMC and Bear Stearns. Seven years and a small fortune later, they lost the house in Dallas. Back then, judges weren’t as interested in mortgage practices as some are now, he said.

The experience lit a fire. Mr. Lavalle set out to learn everything he could about the mortgage industry. In a five-hour interview in Naples, Fla., last month, he described his travels nationwide. He dove into mortgage arcana, land records and court filings. By 1996, he had identified what appeared to be forged signatures on foreclosure documents, foreshadowing troubles to come. He took his findings to big players in the industry: Banc One, Bear Stearns, Countrywide Financial, Freddie Mac, JPMorgan, Washington Mutual and others. A few responded but later said his claims were not valid, he said.

Now he splits his time between Orlando and Boca Raton, advising lawyers as an expert witness. “From my own personal experience and 20 years of research and investigation, nothing — and I mean nothing — that a bank, lender, loan servicer or their lawyer says or puts on paper can be trusted and accepted as true,” Mr. Lavalle said.

FANNIE MAE, now in government hands, has acknowledged how abusive foreclosure practices can hurt its own business. “The failure of our servicers or a law firm to apply prudent and effective process controls and to comply with legal and other requirements in the foreclosure process poses operational, reputational and legal risks for us,” it said in a 2010 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Five years earlier, Fannie seemed to have taken a different view. That was when Mr. Lavalle pointed out legal lapses by some of its representatives. Among them was the law offices of David J. Stern, in Plantation, Fla., which was handling an astonishing 75,000 foreclosure cases a year — more than 200 a day. In 2005, Mr. Lavalle warned Fannie Mae that some judges had ruled that the Stern firm was submitting “sham pleadings.” Nonetheless, Fannie continued to do business with the firm until it closed its doors last year, after evidence emerged of rampant forgeries and fraudulent filings.

O.C.J. Case No. 5595 found that Stern wasn’t the only firm working for Fannie that seemed to be cutting corners. It also found that lawyers operating in seven other states — Connecticut, Georgia, New York, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky and Ohio — had made false filings in connection with work for Fannie Mae or the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a private mortgage registry Fannie helped establish in 1995.

“While Fannie Mae officials do not have a single opinion, some officials believe foreclosure counsel are sacrificing accuracy for speed,” the report said.

The lawyers at Baker & Hostetler did not agree with everything Mr. Lavalle said. Mark A. Cymrot, a partner who led the investigation, discounted Mr. Lavalle’s fear that Fannie could lose billions if large numbers of foreclosures had to be unwound as a result of misconduct by its lawyers and servicers.

Even so, the report didn’t conclude that Mr. Lavalle was wrong on the legal issues. It simply said that few people would have the financial resources to challenge foreclosures. In other words, few people would be like Mr. Lavalle.

“Courts are unlikely to unwind foreclosures unless borrowers can demonstrate that the foreclosure would not have gone forward with the correct pleadings, which is a difficult burden for most borrowers to meet,” the report said. “Nevertheless, the issues Mr. Lavalle raises should be addressed promptly in order to mitigate the risk of exposure to lawsuits and some degree of liability.” Mr. Cymrot declined to comment for this article.

O.C.J. 5595 also questioned Mr. Lavalle’s contention that improprieties by loan servicers were pervasive. But based on interviews with 30 Fannie employees, the report conceded that the company had no mechanism to ensure that servicers were charging borrowers appropriate fees.

Other oversight at Fannie was similarly lacking, the Baker & Hostetler lawyers found. For instance, when Fannie identified fraud by a lender or servicer, it didn’t notify the homeowner. Nor did it police activities of lawyers or servicers it hired. As a result, the report said, Fannie might not be insulated from liability for their misconduct.

Lewis D. Lowenfels, a securities law expert, said he was perplexed that Fannie’s board appeared to have done nothing to correct these practices. “If it had been brought to the board’s attention that specific acts of illegality were being committed, it should have directed that relationships with the transgressors be terminated forthwith and Fannie Mae’s regulator be advised accordingly,” he said.

Daniel H. Mudd, Fannie’s chief executive at the time, declined to comment through his lawyer. Mr. Mudd was recently sued by the S.E.C., accused of failing to disclose Fannie’s participation in the subprime mortgage market.

PERHAPS no development has done more to obscure the forces behind the foreclosure epidemic than the rise of the MERS, the private registry that has all but replaced public land ownership records. Created by Fannie, Freddie and big banks, MERS claims to hold title to roughly half the nation’s home mortgages. Judges and lawmakers have questioned MERS’s legal authority to initiate foreclosures, and some judges have thrown out foreclosures brought in its name. On Friday, New York’s attorney general sued MERS, contending that its system led to fraudulent foreclosure filings. MERS refuted the claims and said it would fight.

Mr. Lavalle warned Fannie years ago that MERS couldn’t legally foreclose because it didn’t actually own notes underlying properties.

The report agreed. MERS’s approach of letting loan servicers foreclose in its own name, not in that of institutions owning the notes, “is not accepted legal practice in all states,” the report said. Moreover, “MERS’s counsel conceded false allegations are routinely made, and the practice should be ‘modified.’ ”

It continued: “To our knowledge, MERS has not addressed the issue of its counsels’ repeated false statements to the courts.”

Janis L. Smith, a spokeswoman for MERS, said it had not seen the Baker & Hostetler report and declined comment on its references to the false statements made on its behalf to the courts. She said that MERS’s business model is legal in all states and that as a nominee, it has the right to foreclose. MERS stopped allowing its members to foreclose in its name in all states in 2011.

Robert D. Drain, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of New York, said in court last month that the failure of the mortgage industry to deal with pervasive problems involving inaccurate documentation and improper court filings amounted to “the greatest failure of lawyering in the last 50 years.”

In an interview last week, Judge Drain said several practices have contributed to the foreclosure mess. One is that Fannie and the rest of the industry failed to ensure that MERS was operating legally in all states. Another is that the industry failed to perform due diligence on documentation.

MERS no longer participates in foreclosures. But a lot of damage has already been done, Mr. Lavalle said.

“Hundreds of thousands of foreclosures in Florida and across America were knowingly conducted unlawfully, for which there are still severe liabilities and implications to come for many years,” he said.

THERE was a time when Americans had mortgage-burning parties: When they paid off a promisory note, they celebrated by burning the release of the lien.

But they kept the canceled promissory note — and there was a reason for that. Promissory notes, like dollar bills, are negotiable currency. Whoever holds them can essentially claim them.

According to O.C.J. Case No. 5595, Fannie held roughly two million mortgage notes in its offices in Herndon, Va., in 2005 — a fraction of the 15 million loans it actually owned or guaranteed. Who had the rest? Various third parties.

At that time, Fannie typically destroyed 40 percent of the notes once the mortgages were paid off. It returned the rest to the respective lenders, only without marking the notes as canceled.

Mr. Lavalle and the internal report raised concerns that Fannie wasn’t taking enough care in handling these documents. The company lacked a centralized system for reporting lost notes, for instance. Nor did custodians or loan servicers that held notes on its behalf report missing notes to homeowners.

The potential for mayhem, the report said, was serious. Anyone who gains control of a note can, in theory, try to force the borrower to pay it, even if it has already been paid. In such a case, “the borrower would have the expensive and unenviable task of trying to collect from the custodian that was negligent in losing the note, from the servicer that accepted payments, or from others responsible for the predicament,” the report stated. Mr. Lavalle suggested that Fannie return the paid notes to borrowers after stamping them “canceled.” Impractical, the 2006 report said.

This leaves open the possibility that someone might try to force homeowners to pay the same mortgage twice. Or that loans could be improperly pledged as collateral by some other institution, even though the loans have been paid, Mr. Lavalle said. Indeed, there have been instances in the foreclosure crisis when two different institutions laid claim to the same mortgage note.

In its statement last week, Fannie said it quickly addressed questions of lost note affidavits and issued guidance to servicers that no judicial foreclosures be conducted in MERS’s name. It also said it instructed Florida foreclosure lawyers “to use specific language to assure no confusion over the identity of the ‘owner’ and the ’holder’ of the note.”

The 2006 report said Mr. Lavalle at times came across as over the top, that he was, in its words, “partial to extreme analogies that undermine his credibility.” Knowing what we know now, he looks more like one of the financial Cassandras of our time — a man whose prescient warnings went unheeded.

Now, he hopes dubious mortgage practices will be eradicated.

“Any attorney general, lawyer, bank director, judge, regulator or member of Congress who does not open their eyes to the abuse, ask pertinent questions and allow proper investigation and discovery,” he said, “is only assisting in the concealment of what may be the fraud of our lifetime.”

A version of this article appeared in print on February 5, 2012, on page BU1 of the New York edition with the headline: A Tornado Warning, Unheeded.

 

Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded – NYTimes.com

New York sues banks over foreclosures – Feb. 3, 2012

http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/03/news/economy/banks_sued/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

New York sues banks over foreclosures

  • By Jennifer Liberto@CNNMoneyFebruary 3, 2012: 3:15 PM ET

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued the big banks over their use of an electronic mortgage registry.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued the big banks over their use of a private electronic mortgage registry.

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The New York attorney general sued some of the nation’s biggest banks on Friday, accusing them of unlawful and deceptive practices for relying on a private electronic registry that tracks mortgages.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Friday sued Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), as well as the Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. (MERS) in New York state court.

Schneiderman says that the banks created the electronic registry as an “end-run” around the public property recording system to help them more quickly buy and sell parts of mortgages. He said the system helped banks create “deceptive and fraudulent court submissions” and improperly foreclose on homeowners.

“Our action demonstrates that there is one set of rules for all — no matter how big or powerful the institution may be — and that those rules will be enforced vigorously,” said Attorney General Schneiderman in a statement.

Foreclosure settlement could be coming

MERS runs a database created in the 1995 to digitize and centralize the paperwork surrounding the bundling and selling of the loans. MERS members include most of the large banks in the mortgage industry. More than 70 million loans are registered in the MERS system, including 30 million that are active, according to the New York attorney general’s office.

The New York suit alleges that the database was used by the big banks to transfer ownership of mortgage debt without paying government registration fees and properly recording the transactions. The system also concealed the identities of the holders of mortgage debt from borrowers, the suit claims.

“MERS’ conduct, as well as the servicers’ use of the MERS System, has resulted in the filing of improper New York foreclosure proceedings, undermined the integrity of the judicial process, created confusion and uncertainty concerning property ownership interests, and potentially clouded titles on properties throughout the State of New York,” according to a statement by the New York Attorney General.

MERSCORP, parent company for Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc., said the company refutes the attorney general’s claims, adding that federal and state courts nationwide have already upheld the MERS’ business model, according to a statement.

One Washington research analyst notes that the New York charges are similar to past cases brought against MERS, and that so far, “the industry has won most of those challenges,” said Jaret Seiberg, of Guggenheim’s Washington Research Group “The ones they lost tend to be on narrow issues.

In December the Massachusetts attorney general filed a lawsuit against the same banks, as well as Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and GMAC Mortgage, alleging similar complaints. That case is still pending.

Schneiderman is also leading a working group of federal and state officials that the president put together to investigate mortgage securities fraud.

At the same time, Schneiderman is also considering whether New York should sign on to a mortgage servicing settlement agreement that federal officials and state attorneys general have been negotiating for a year with the nation’s largest banks that service mortgages. To top of page

New York sues banks over foreclosures – Feb. 3, 2012

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