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FL 4th DCA COURT OF APPEALS REVERSES SUMMARY JUDGMENT: ALEJANDRE v. DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY

FL 4th DCA COURT OF APPEALS REVERSES SUMMARY JUDGMENT: ALEJANDRE v. DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY

JUDITH ALEJANDRE and SERGIO TERRON, Appellants,
v.
DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS

f/k/a BANKER’S TRUST COMPANY, as TRUSTEE
and CUSTODIAN FOR NATIXIS 2007-HE2, Appellee.

No. 4D09-2280.

October 13, 2010 –

Joshua Bleil and Jessica Ticktin of The Ticktin Law Group, P.A.,
Deerfield Beach, for appellants.

No brief filed for appellee.

Judith Alejandre and Sergio Terron (Alejandre) appeal the summary judgment of foreclosure in favor of Deutsche Bank Trust Company. Alejandre asserts that the trial court erred in granting the summary judgment and that they had asserted affirmative defenses which were not denied by Deutsche, dealt with during the hearing on the motion for summary judgment or addressed in the final judgment. We agree and reverse.

Deutsche filed an amended complaint with the necessary documentation alleging that it was entitled to foreclose on the property in question. In Alejandre’s answer to the amended complaint, they asserted as affirmative defenses, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), and unclean hands. In moving for summary judgment, Deutsche attached an affidavit stating that it had advanced to Alejandre, and is owed by Alejandre, the sum of $337,567.26. In its motion, however, it did not address any of the pending affirmative defenses. Nonetheless, the trial court granted Deutsche’s motion for summary judgment, prompting this appeal.

“The standard of review of the entry of summary judgment is de novo.” Craven v. TRG-Boynton Beach, Ltd.,925 So.2d 476, 479 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006). Further, [t]he law is well settled in Florida that a party moving for summary judgment must show conclusively the absence of any genuine issue of material fact, and the court must draw every possible inference in favor of the party against whom a summary judgment is sought.” Id. at 479-80. “Summary judgment cannot be granted unless the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with affidavits, if any, conclusively show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Frost v. Regions Bank,15 So.3d 905, 906 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009).

When a party raises affirmative defenses, “[a] summary judgment should not be granted where there are issues of fact raised by [the] affirmative defense[s] which have not been effectively factually challenged and refuted.” Cufferi v. Royal Palm Dev. Co.,516 So.2d 983, 984 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987). Thus, “`[i]n order for a plaintiff . . . to obtain a summary judgment when the defendant asserts affirmative defenses, the plaintiff must either disprove those defenses by evidence or establish the legal insufficiency of the defenses.’” Id. (quoting Bunner v. Fla. Coast Bank of Coral Springs, N.A.,390 So.2d 126, 127 (Fla. 4th DCA 1980)). In such instances, “[t]he burden is on the plaintiff, as the moving party, to demonstrate that the defendant could not prevail.” Id.

In Frost, a bank/mortgagee filed a foreclosure claim against a mortgagor. In response to that complaint, the mortgagors filed an answer that contained the affirmative defense of notice and opportunity to cure. The bank filed a motion for summary judgment. In opposition to that motion, the mortgagors did not file any papers or affidavits. At the hearing, the mortgagors contended that summary judgment was improper because the bank failed to address their affirmative defense. The trial court granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment. Frost, 15 So. 3d at 906.

On appeal, this court reversed. We stated that the bank failed to refute the mortgagors’ affirmative defense of lack of notice and opportunity to cure. The bank failed to meet this requirement because “[n]othing in the bank’s complaint, motion for summary judgment, or affidavits indicate that the bank gave the [mortgagors] the notice which the mortgage required. The bank also did not establish that the [mortgagors’] lack of notice and opportunity to cure defense was legally insufficient.” Id. at 906. This Court held that “[b]ecause the bank did not meet its burden to refute the [mortgagors’] lack of notice and opportunity to cure defense, the bank is not entitled to final summary judgment of foreclosure.” Id. at 906-07.

In the instant case, as in Frost, the trial court’s entry of summary judgment was improper. Here, as in Frost, Deutsche moved for summary judgment, but in that motion, it failed to address affirmative defenses raised by the mortgagor, Alejandre. Because Deutsche failed to address Alejandre’s affirmative defenses, it did not carry its burden on summary judgment. Therefore, the trial court’s entry of summary judgment was erroneous. We do not pass upon the merits of the affirmative defenses, as that is a matter to be addressed in further proceedings.

Reversed and Remanded for Further Proceedings Consistent with this Opinion.

TAYLOR and CIKLIN, JJ., concur.

ALEJANDRE v. DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY

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Posted in deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, reversed court decision3 Comments

CASE EVERYONE SHOULD READ: DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST AMS. AS TRUSTEE v. McCoy, 2010 NY Slip Op 51664 – NY: Supreme Court, Suffolk

CASE EVERYONE SHOULD READ: DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST AMS. AS TRUSTEE v. McCoy, 2010 NY Slip Op 51664 – NY: Supreme Court, Suffolk

2010 NY Slip Op 51664(U)

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS AS TRUSTEE, Plaintiff(s),
v.
DEREK McCOY; EDYTA McCOY; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. AS NOMINEE FOR HOMECOMINGS FINANCIAL, LLC, (F/K/A HOMECOMINGS FINANCIAL NETWORK, INC.) BOARD OF MANAGERS OF THE SILVER CHASE CONDOMINIUM; “JOHN DOE #1-5 AND “JANE DOE #1-5” SAID NAMES BEING FICTITIOUS, IT BEING THE INTENTION OF Plaintiff TO DESIGNATE ANY AND ALL OCCUPANTS, TENANTS, PERSONS OR CORPORATIONS, IF ANY, HAVING OR CLAIMING AN INTEREST IN OR LIEN UPON THE PREMISES BEING FORECLOSED HEREIN, Defendant(s).

7782-2008. Supreme Court, Suffolk County.

Decided September 21, 2010. Fein, Such & Crane, LLP, 747 Chestnut Ridge Road, Chestnut Ridge, New York 10977-6216, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

Derek McCoy, Edyta McCoy, 35 Gibbs Road, Coram, New York 11727, Defendants Pro Se.

PETER H. MAYER, J.

UPON DUE DELIBERATION AND CONSIDERATION BY THE COURT of the foregoing papers, the motion is decided as follows: it is

ORDERED that plaintiff’s resubmitted application (seq. # 002) for an order of reference in this foreclosure action is considered under 2009 NY Laws, Ch. 507, enacted December 15, 2009, and 2008 NY Laws, Ch. 472, enacted August 5, 2008 (as amended), as well as the related statutes and case law, and is hereby denied without prejudice, and with leave to resubmit upon proper papers, for the reasons set forth herein; and it is further

ORDERED that, inasmuch as the plaintiff has failed to properly show that the homeowner-defendants are not entitled to a foreclosure settlement conference, pursuant to CPLR 3408 such conference is hereby scheduled for November 17, 2010, 9:30 a.m., in the courtroom of the undersigned, located at Room A-259, Part 17, One Court Street, Riverhead, NY 11901 (XXX-XXX-XXXX), for the purpose of holding settlement discussions pertaining to the rights and obligations of the parties under the mortgage loan documents, including but not limited to, determining whether the parties can reach a mutually agreeable resolution to help the defendant avoid losing their home, and evaluating the potential for a resolution in which payment schedules or amounts may be modified or other workout options may be agreed to, and for whatever other purposes the Court deems appropriate; and it is further

ORDERED that “Sherry Hall,” who purports, in this particular case, to be the Vice President of Homecomings Financial Network, Inc., the purported attorney-in-fact for the plaintiff, shall appear at the November 17, 2010 Foreclosure Settlement Conference; and it is further

ORDERED that “Nikole Shelton,” the individual who purportedly notarized Ms. Hall’s signature in this particular action, as well as in the action entitled GMAC Mortgage, LLC v Ingoglia, under Suffolk County Index Number XXXX-XXXX, shall appear at the November 17, 2010 Conference; and it is further

ORDERED that any attorney appearing at the conference on behalf of the plaintiff (including a per diem attorney) shall, pursuant to CPLR 3408, be fully authorized to dispose of the case; and it is further

ORDERED that the plaintiff shall bring to all future conferences all documents necessary for evaluating the potential settlement, modification, or other workout options which may be appropriate, including but not limited to the payment history, an itemization of the amounts needed to cure the default and satisfy the loan, and the mortgage and note; if the plaintiff is not the owner of the mortgage and note, the plaintiff shall provide the name, address and telephone number of the legal owner of the mortgage and note; and it is further

ORDERED that the plaintiff shall promptly serve, via first class mail, a copy of this Order upon the homeowner-defendants at all known addresses (or upon their attorney if represented by counsel), as well as upon all other appearing parties, and shall provide the affidavit(s) of such service to the Court at the time of the scheduled conference, and annex a copy of this Order and the affidavit(s) of service as exhibits to any future applications submitted to the Court; and it is further

ORDERED that in the event any scheduled court conference is adjourned for any reason, the plaintiff shall promptly send, via first class mail, written notice of the adjourn date to the homeowner-defendants at all known addresses (or upon their attorney if represented by counsel), as well as upon all other appearing parties, and shall provide the affidavit(s) of such service to the Court at the time of the subsequent conference, and annex a copy of this Order and the affidavit(s) of service as exhibits to any future applications submitted to the Court; and it is further

ORDERED that with regard to any future applications submitted to the Court, the moving party(ies) must clearly state, in an initial paragraph of the attorney’s affirmation, whether or not the statutorily required foreclosure conference has been held and, if so, when such conference was conducted; and it is further

ORDERED that with regard to any scheduled court conferences or future applications by the parties, if the Court determines that such conferences have been attended, or such applications have been submitted, without proper regard for the applicable statutory and case law, or without regard for the required proofs delineated herein, the Court may, in its discretion, strike the non-compliant party’s pleadings or deny such applications with prejudice and/or impose sanctions pursuant to 22 NYCRR §130-1, and may deny those costs and attorneys fees attendant with the filing of such future applications.

In this foreclosure action, the plaintiff filed a summons and complaint on February 26, 2008. The complaint essentially alleges that the homeowner-defendants, Derek McCoy and Edyta McCoy, defaulted in payments with regard to a December 8, 2006 mortgage in the principal amount of $288,000.00 for the premises located at 35-34 Gibbs Road, Coram, New York 11727. The original lender, Homecomings Financial, LLC, had the mortgage assigned to the plaintiff by assignment dated February 28, 2008, two days after the commencement of the action. According to the court’s database, a foreclosure settlement conference has not yet been held. The plaintiff’s application seeks a default order of reference and requests amendment of the caption to remove the “Doe” defendants as parties. Plaintiff’s counsel contends that the “present application corrects the specified defects articulated in the [December 4, 2008]Short Form Order.” Notwithstanding counsel’s contention, plaintiff’s current application fails to correct several defects, and presents other grounds which preclude an order of reference in favor of the plaintiff.

By Order dated December 4, 2008, the plaintiff’s prior application for the same relief was denied without prejudice, and with leave to resubmit upon proper papers, to allow the plaintiff to properly show whether or not the subject loan is a “subprime home loan” or a “high-cost home loan” as defined by statute, thereby entitling the defendants to a foreclosure settlement conference pursuant to the then-applicable 2008 NY Laws, Chapter 472. In this regard, the plaintiff’s attorney has submitted a letter in which he claims that it is his “belief that the mortgage being foreclosed is not a sub-prime home loan and is not subject to the [foreclosure conference] requirements.” Counsel also submits an Affirmation of Compliance with CPLR 3408, which states that “[w]e have determined that this loan is not subprime,” and that the defendants “are not entitled to a court conference” (emphasis in original).

Despite counsel’s assertions, the plaintiff’s own affidavit of merit states that “[w]e have determined that this loan is subprime” and that “the defendants are entitled to court conference” (emphasis added). The direct contradiction between counsel’s “belief” and the assessment of one whose affidavit states, as in this case, that she has “first-hand knowledge of the facts and circumstances surrounding this action,” validates this Court’s approach in refusing to accept counsel’s assertions as fact in any given foreclosure action. The mistaken “belief” of an attorney who has no personal knowledge of the facts, yet opines in court documents that a homeowner-defendant is not entitled to a statutorily required court conference, may prejudice the homeowner’s rights while subjecting the attorney to otherwise avoidable court sanctions. Since the plaintiff has failed to adequately show that the homeowner-defendants are not entitled to a foreclosure settlement conference, such conference shall be held on November 17, 2010, 9:30 a.m.

The Court’s December 4, 2008 Order also specifically stated that “[w]ith regard to any future applications … plaintiff’s papers shall include … evidentiary proof of compliance with the requirements of CPLR §3215(f), including but not limited to a proper affidavit of facts by the plaintiff [or by plaintiff’s agent, provided there is proper proof in evidentiary form of such agency relationship], or a complaint verified by the plaintiff and not merely by an attorney or non-party, such as a servicer, with no personal knowledge.”

In an apparent effort to satisfy the requirements of CPLR §3215(f), the plaintiff submits an affidavit of merit from “Sherry Hall,” who purports in this particular case to be the Vice President of Homecomings Financial Network, Inc. (“Homecomings”), the purported attorney-in-fact for the plaintiff. The Limited Power of Attorney annexed to the affidavit, however, does not name Homecomings as the attorney-in-fact. Instead, it names Residential Funding Company, LLC. Therefore, the Court cannot conclude that the affidavit was “made by the party” as required by CPLR §3215(f) (emphasis added). Notably, the instructions on the power-of-attorney form also require the form to be recorded and returned not to the plaintiff bank, nor to Homecomings as the purported attorney-in-fact, but rather to “GMAC ResCap.” This raises certain concerns, particularly given the nature of the affidavit of merit submitted in this case, as compared to the affidavit of merit submitted to the Court by the same attorneys in an unrelated foreclosure matter, GMAC Mortgage, LLC v Ingoglia, under Suffolk County Index Number XXXX-XXXX.

In the Ingoglia case (which was recently discontinued), counsel submitted an affidavit of merit from “Sheri D. Hall” in her purported capacity as Vice President of GMAC Mortgage, LLC. That affidavit was notarized by Nikole Shelton on April 14, 2009. Just weeks earlier, on March 25, 2009, Ms. Shelton notarized an affidavit of merit from “Sherry Hall” in this case, in which Ms. Hall purports to be Vice President of Homecomings. It would appear, therefore, that Ms. Hall purports to be the Vice President of two different banks almost simultaneously. Furthermore, although the affidavit in this case appears to have been notarized by Ms. Shelton on March 25, 2009, it appears to have been signed by Ms. Hall five (5) days later, on March 30, 2009, after it was notarized.

The “Hall” affidavit in each case is accompanied by a Certificate of Acknowledgment notarized by “Nikole Shelton” in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Both Certificates state that the individual executing the affidavits “personally appeared” before Nikole Shelton. Both state that the affiant was “personally known to [Nikole Shelton] or proved to [Nikole Shelton] on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the individual whose name is subscribed to the [affidavit].” Notwithstanding these assertions by Ms. Shelton in both cases, the affidavit submitted to the Court in Ingoglia was executed by one who printed and signed her name as “Sheri D. Hall,” while the affidavit submitted in this case was executed by one who printed and signed her name as “Sherry Hall.” Although the Court cannot function as a handwriting expert, the signatures in both affidavits appear virtually identical, despite the difference in the two names.

These facts raise questions concerning the true identity and veracity of the person signing the affidavits of merit, who swears to be the Vice President of two different banks almost simultaneously, as well as the veracity of Nikole Shelton, in notarizing both signatures. Accordingly, “Sherry Hall,” who submitted the affidavit of merit in this case, and “Nikole Shelton,” who purportedly notarized Ms. Hall’s signature in this case and purportedly notarized the signature of “Sheri D. Hall” in the Ingoglia case, shall appear at the November 17, 2010 conference, so the Court may determine whether or not it must conduct an evidentiary hearing on these issues.

Concerning assignment of the subject mortgage, this Court’s December 4, 2008 Order specifically required any resubmitted motion to include “evidentiary proof, including an affidavit from one with personal knowledge, of proper and timely assignments of the subject mortgage, if any, sufficient to establish the plaintiff’s ownership of the subject note and mortgage at the time the action was commenced, and that the assignment is not merely an invalid assignment or an assignment with an ineffectual retroactive date” (emphasis added). Despite this specific instruction, the plaintiff’s affidavit of merit merely states that the plaintiff “is still the holder of record of the … mortgage.” This statement fails to show that the plaintiff was the holder of the note and mortgage when the plaintiff commenced the action. The plaintiff filed the summons and complaint on February 26, 2008; however, the assignment of the mortgage to the plaintiff from the original lender, Homecomings Financial, LLC, is dated February 28, 2008, two days after the commencement of the action.

Only where the plaintiff is the assignee of the mortgage and the underlying note at the time the foreclosure action was commenced does the plaintiff have standing to maintain the action (U.S. Bank, N.A. v Collymore, 68 AD3d 752, 890 NYS2d 578 [2d Dept 2009]; Federal Natl. Mtge. Assn. v Youkelsone, 303 AD2d 546, 755 NYS2d 730 [2d Dept 2003]; Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v Marchione, 69 AD3d 204, 887 NYS2d 615 [2d Dept 2009]; First Trust Natl. Assn. v Meisels, 234 AD2d 414, 651 NYS2d 121 [2d Dept 1996]). An assignment executed after the commencement of an action, which states that it is effective as of a date preceding the commencement date, is valid where the defaulting defendant appears but fails to interpose an answer or file a timely pre-answer motion that asserts the defense of standing, thereby waiving such defense pursuant to CPLR 3211[e] (see, HSBC Bank, USA v Dammond, 59 AD3d 679, 875 NYS2d 490 1445 [2d Dept 2009]). It remains settled, however, that foreclosure of a mortgage may not be brought by one who has no title to it and absent transfer of the debt, the assignment of the mortgage is a nullity (U.S. Bank, N.A. v Collymore, 68 AD3d 752, 890 NYS2d 578 [2d Dept 2009]; Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 536 NYS2d 92 [2d Dept 1988]).

Indeed, a plaintiff has no foundation in law or fact to foreclose upon a mortgage in which the plaintiff has no legal or equitable interest (Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v Marchione, 69 AD3d 204, 887 NYS2d 615 [2d Dept 2009]; Katz v East-Ville Realty Co., 249 AD2d 243, 672 NYS2d 308 [1st Dept 1998]). Either a written assignment of the underlying note or the physical delivery of the note prior to the commencement of the foreclosure action is sufficient to transfer the obligation, and the mortgage passes with the debt as an inseparable incident (U.S. Bank, N.A. v Collymore, 68 AD3d 752, 890 NYS2d 578 [2d Dept 2009]).

Although the February 28, 2008 assignment states it is “effective January 19, 2008,” such attempt at retroactivity is ineffectual. If an assignment is in writing, the execution date is generally controlling and a written assignment claiming an earlier effective date is deficient, unless it is accompanied by proof that the physical delivery of the note and mortgage was, in fact, previously effectuated (see, Bankers Trust Co. v Hoovis, 263 AD2d 937, 938, 694 NYS2d 245 [1999]). A retroactive assignment cannot be used to confer standing upon the assignee in a foreclosure action commenced prior to the execution of the assignment (Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. v Gress, 68 AD3d 709, 888 NYS2d 914 [2d Dept 2009]; Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v Marchione, 69 AD3d 204, 887 NYS2d 615 [2d Dept 2009]). Plaintiff’s failure to submit proper proof, including an affidavit from one with personal knowledge, that the plaintiff was the holder of the note and mortgage at the time the action was commenced, requires denial of the plaintiff’s application for an order of reference.

In its prior Order, the Court also gave specific directives concerning proof of compliance with RPAPL §1303 and § 1320 for any resubmitted motions. In this regard, the prior Order required “evidentiary proof, including an attorney’s affirmation, of compliance with the form, type size, type face, paper color and content requirements of RPAPL §1303 regarding foreclosure notices, as well as an affidavit of proper service of such notice,” as well as “evidentiary proof, including an attorney affirmation, of compliance with the form, content, type size, and type face requirements of RPAPL §1320 regarding special summonses in residential foreclosure actions, and proof of proper service of said special summons” (emphasis supplied). Despite these very specific directives, the attorney’s affirmation in support of this resubmitted motion fails to address those sections. While the affidavit of service does state that the summons and complaint were served with a Section 1303 notice on colored paper and a Section 1320 notice, such information, by itself, is not proper proof that those notices were compliant with the specific form, content, type size, and type face requirements set forth in those statutes.

Lastly, the Court notes that although service of process was made upon defendant Derek McCoy by substitute service pursuant to CPLR 308(2), the additional mailing required for such service was never completed. Instead, the process server sent the additional mailing to defendant Edyte McCoy who is alleged to have received a copy of the summons and complaint by personal service pursuant to CPLR 308(1). Such personal service does not require an additional mailing to complete service. Based on the foregoing, the plaintiff has established neither completion of service upon the defendant, Derek McCoy, nor jurisdiction of this Court over that defendant.

Based upon the foregoing, the plaintiff’s motion is denied.

This constitutes the Decision and Order of the Court.

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, conflict of interest, deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosures, Notary, trustee3 Comments

Wall Street Journal: Foreclosure? Not So Fast

Wall Street Journal: Foreclosure? Not So Fast

By now, most have read the Deposition of the Infamous Erica Johnson Seck. This is the homeowner Israel Machado speaking out about his foreclosure.

Thank you Ice Legal!

By ROBBIE WHELAN

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla.—Israel Machado’s foreclosure started out as a routine affair. In the summer of 2008, as the economy began to soften, Mr. Machado’s pool-cleaning business suffered and like millions of other Americans, he fell behind on his $400,000 mortgage.

But Mr. Machado’s response was unlike most other Americans’. Instead of handing his home over to the lender, IndyMac Bank FSB, he hired Ice Legal LP in nearby Royal Palm Beach to fight the foreclosure. The law firm researched the history of Mr. Machado’s loan and found two interesting facts.

First, the affidavits IndyMac used to file the foreclosure were signed by a so-called robo-signer named Erica A. Johnson-Seck, who routinely signed 6,000 documents a week related to foreclosures and bankruptcy. That volume, the court decided, meant Ms. Johnson-Seck couldn’t possibly have thoroughly reviewed the facts of Mr. Machado’s case, as required by law.

Secondly, IndyMac (now called OneWest Bank) no longer owned the loan—a group of investors in a securitized trust managed by Deutsche Bank did. Determining that IndyMac didn’t really have standing to foreclose, a judge threw out the case and ordered IndyMac to pay Mr. Machado’s $30,000 legal bill.

Mr. Machado and his lawyer, Tom Ice, say they now want to convince the owners of the mortgage to cut Mr. Machado’s loan balance to between $150,000 and $200,000—the current selling price for comparable homes in his community near West Palm Beach. “The whole intent was to get them to come to the negotiating table, to get me in a fixed-rate mortgage that worked,” Mr. Machado said.

Continue reading…WALL STREET JOURNAL

.

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, bogus, Bryan Bly, CONTROL FRAUD, deposition, deutsche bank, erica johnson seck, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, indymac, note, onewest, robo signers1 Comment

KENTUCKY RICO CLASS ACTION INVOLVING MERSCORP, LPS, DOCX, GMAC, DEUTSCHE BANK, US BANK et al

KENTUCKY RICO CLASS ACTION INVOLVING MERSCORP, LPS, DOCX, GMAC, DEUTSCHE BANK, US BANK et al

KABOOM!!

I have a feeling this is not the last…

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© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in assignment of mortgage, class action, deutsche bank, DOCX, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, forgery, Lender Processing Services Inc., linda green, LPS, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., RICO, robo signers, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD6 Comments

INDYMAC’S/ONEWEST FORECLOSURE ‘ROBO-SIGNERS’ SIGNED 24,000 MORTGAGE DOCUMENTS MONTHLY

INDYMAC’S/ONEWEST FORECLOSURE ‘ROBO-SIGNERS’ SIGNED 24,000 MORTGAGE DOCUMENTS MONTHLY

Please welcome Ericka Johnson Seck to the ROBO-SIGNER Hall of Sham!

MERS & LPS once again the “Common Thread”

Here is a list of her many Corporate Hats:

  • Vice President of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. (MERS)
  • Vice President of Deutsch Bank National Trust
  • Vice President of Bank of New York
  • Attorney in Fact of IndyMac
  • Attorney in Fact of ONEWEST
  • Attorney in  Fact of FDIC

I must confess, she was my first study because she signed two assignments for “one” of my properties using “two” different employers. 🙂 ‘<blush> I even created my very first youtube video in her honor (see below)!

Thanks to Judge Arthur Schack and Tom Ice from Ice Legal in Palm Beach County, we all became familiar with Erica for wearing too many corporate hats.

She is the “Robo-Signer” Judge Schack called out in three particular cases in NY and made her an instant foreclosure household name. I don’t think she ever emerged in NY soon after this. Also see the  HSCB v. Yasmin case.

Excerpt of DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST v. HARRIS

The Court is perplexed as to why the assignment was not executed in Pasadena, California, at 46U Sierra Madre Villa, the alleged “principal place of business” for both the assignor and the assignee. In my January 3 1, 2008 decision (Deutsche Bank National Tr (1st Canpuny v Maraj, – Misc 3d – [A], 2008 NY Slip Op 50176 [U]), I noted that Erica Johnson-Seck, claimed that she was a Vice President of MERS in her July 3,2007 INDYMAC to DEUTSCHE BANK assignment, and then in her July 3 1,2007 affidavit claimed to be a DEUTSCHE BANK Vice President. Just as in Deutsche Bank National Trust Company v Maraj, at 2, the Court in the instant action, before granting itn application for an order of reference, requires an affidavit from Ms. Johnson-Seck, describing her employment history for the past three years.

Further, the Court requires an explanation from an officer of plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK as to why, in the middle of our national subprime mortgage financial crisis, DEUTSCHE BANK would purchase a non-perferforming loan from INDYMAC, and why DEUTSCHE BANK, INDYMAC and MERS all share office space at 460 Sierra Madre Villa, Pasadena, CA 91 107.

24,000 Monthly Documents executed by her team

Now Lets move on to this below… according to this deposition her office signs 24,000 mortgage related documents out of the this figure she signed about “750” a week making it approximately 3000 mortgage documents used in foreclosure cases. Anything from Affidavits of Debt, Lost Note Affidavits, Assignment of Mortgages, Declarations pretty much anything having to deal with Bankruptcy and Foreclosures.

This is what she signs without any notary present.

DEPOSITION OF ERICA JOHNSON SECK

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Below is a sale that happened in DC all in 1 single day! It appears she also puts properties in her name with her co-employees Roger Stotts and  Eric Friedman.

ROGER STOTTS  signs these as well and according to the depo above Indymac/Onewest is “NOT” the custodian as defined below. Why do they commit fraud?


FIRST VIDEO MADE OF DAVID J. STERN, ERICA JOHNSON-SECK BACK IN FEBRUARY 2010

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, bogus, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deposition, deutsche bank, erica johnson seck, fdic, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, Former Fidelity National Information Services, investigation, judge arthur schack, Law Offices Of David J. Stern P.A., lis pendens, MERS, MERSCORP, Moratorium, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., notary fraud, note, onewest, robo signers, roger stotts, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, stopforeclosurefraud.com11 Comments

FOR SALE: DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO CALIFORNIA BUILDING

FOR SALE: DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO CALIFORNIA BUILDING

I just got this tip that DBNT is selling it’s California address that is in many many SEC filings. I wish I can make more comments but am limited. I’ll leave it up to you all.

Source: Loopnet

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosures, Real Estate, trustee, trustee sale, Trusts0 Comments

NY JUDGE SPINNER DENIES Deutsche & MERS for NOT Recording Mortgage, Make up Affidavit and Assignment!

NY JUDGE SPINNER DENIES Deutsche & MERS for NOT Recording Mortgage, Make up Affidavit and Assignment!

MERS ‘QUIET TITLE’ FAIL

NY SUPREME COURT: SUFFOLK COUNTY

INDEX NO. 09-3 1067

Excerpts:

MERS alleges that the mortgage was never recorded, and upon information and belief, has been lost or inadvertantly destroyed. MERS commenced this action on August 1 1, 2009, with the filing of the summons, verified complaint, and notice of pendency.

Also, in support of its cross motion, MERS submits, inter alia, copies of the alleged note and mortgage, and the affidavit of John Burnett ( “Burnett”), a Vice President of Deutsche Bank National Trust Company as Trustee for the MLMI Trust Series 2007-MLNI (“Deutsche Bank”) who alleges that Deutsche Bank is the current owner and holder of the mortgage that is the subject of this action. Burnett claims that MERS’ mortgage has been assigned to Deutsche Bank by an unrecorded assignment of the mortgage acknowledged on September 4,2009, a copy of which has been submitted to the court. Burnett states that the assignment will be recorded once the mortgage has been established of record. Further, Burnett alleges that out of the loan proceeds that were secured by the mortgage, $641,441.54 was paid to Downey Savings and Loan to satisfy a prior mortgage Torr had given on the property, and the amount of $34,833.22 was paid directly to Torr. Burnett submits a copy of the alleged HUD- 1 A Settlement Statement from Torr’s closing.

Additionally, Burnett asserts that it has been discovered that the original mortgage was never recorded, cannot be located, and is presumed to be lost or inadvertantly destroyed. He claims that the original mortgage is not in Deutsche Bank’s files, and only a copy has been located. Burnett states that Interactive Abstract (“Interactive”) a title abstract company, presided over the November 17, 2006 closing of the mortgage and took the executed original for the purpose of recording it in the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office. He states that, upon information and belief, the mortgage was lost, misplace or destroyed while in Interactive‘s possession or after it had been submitted to the Clerk’s Office for recording. Burnett alleges that he has been advised that Interactive has ceased operating as a title abstract company and is out of business.

MERS alleges that by submitting the affidavit of Burnett, and copies of the affidavits of service, together with the relevant documentary evidence, it has satisfied the proof required by CPLR 321 5 setting forth the facts constituting the claim against Torr and establishing his default. Moreover, MERS alleges that the relief sought herein, a declaratory judgment, is necessary to enable it to realize the security interest in the property that was bargained for when MLN made its $695,000.00 loan to Torr and Torr gave the mortgage to secure the loan. MERS requests that the court render a judgment declaring that the plaintiff is the holder of a mortgage encumbering the premises under the terms and conditions set forth in the unrecorded plaintiffs mortgage, and directing the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office to record such a declaratory judgment, together with a copy of the plaintiffs mortgage.

As to Torr’s motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action, MERS has established that such motion is untimely. Torr was served by two different methods of service. One of the affidavits of service submitted indicates that Torr was served pursuant to CPLR 308(2) on September 2, 2009, by leaving the summons and verified complaint with a person of suitable age and discretion; mailing them to Torr’s residence on September 8,2009; and then filing proof of service with the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office on September 18, 2009. Therefore, under this method of service, Torr would have had to have served an answer or a notice of appearance by October 28,2009 (see CPLR 308[2]; CPLR 320; and CPLR 3012). The other affidavit of service submitted indicates that Torr was served pursuant to CPLR 308( 1) on September 2,2009, by personal delivery of the summons and verified complaint, and then fiIing proof of service with the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office on September 10, 2009. Thus, under this method of service, Torr would have had to have served an answer or a notice of appearance by September 22, 2009 (see CPLR 320 and CPLR 30 12). Furthermore, this motion to dismiss the complaint was made by Torr on December 2 1,2009, the date upon which it was served (see CPLR 221 1). Inasmuch as this motion was not interposed within the time required for service of responsive pleadings (see CPLR 32 1 1 [e]), no matter which of the two afl’ldavits of service submitted herein is used, the motion is untimely. Therefore, Torr’s motion to dismiss is denied.

As to MERS’ cross motion, it is well settledl that when applying for a default judgment, a plaintiff must submit evidence sufficient to demonstrate a prima facie case (see CPLR 32 lS[fl; Silberstein v Presbyterinn Hosp. in the City of New York, 96 AD2d 1096,463 NYS2d 254 [1983]). Thus, if a court finds that the allegations in a complaint or affidavit of facts fail to establish a prima facie case, a movant is not entitled to the requested relief; even on default (Dyno v Rose, 260 AD2d 694,687 NYS2d 497 [1999]; Green v Dolplzy Construction Co., Inc., 187 AD2d 635, 590 NYS2d 238 [1992]). Consistent with the foregoing, and upon review of t.he papers submitted, the court finds MERS’ application for a default judgment to be deficient.

An action to compel the determination of a claim to real property may be maintained where a plaintiff claims an estate or interest in real property (RPAPL § 150 I [ 11). Although the interest had by a mortgagee of real property or its successor in interest is an “interest in real property”(RPAPL tj 150 1 [ 5 ] ) , here MERS has failed to meet its burden by demonstrating that it has standing to maintain this action to quiet title (see Soscin v Soscin, 35 AD3d 841, 829 NYS2d 543 [2006]). MERS has failed to make a prima facie showing that it was the owner or holder of the note and the mortgage at the time this action was commenced (cc Mortgnge Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. v Conkley, 41 AD3d 674, 838 NYS2d 622 [2007]). In addition, the purported mortgage describes MERS as the nominee of MLN, and that for purposes of recording the mortgage, MERS is the mortgagee of record. Thus, MERS as nominee, is the agent of MLN, for limited purposes, “and has only those powers which are conferred to it and authorized by” MLN (Bank of New York v Aldernzi, 201 0 NE’ Slip Op. 20 167,900 NYS2d 82 1, 823 [Sup Ct, Kings County, 20101). There is no evidence that MLN, who is not a party herein, authorized MERS to bring this action’.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the assignment dated September 4, 2009, is unclear as there is no evidence that MLN ever directly assigned the note to MERS or expressly gave MERS the authority to act as MLN’s authorized agent to assign the subject note to Deutsche Bank (see In re Stralern, 303 AD2d 120, 758 NYS2d 345 [2003]; Teitz v Goettler, 191 AD 924, 181 NYS 956 [1920]).Without an effective transfer of MLN’s interest in the note to MERS or express authorization from MLN for MERS to assign the note on its behalf, the assignment of the mortgage is a nullity (see Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 536 NYS2d 92 [1988]). Thus, it is also iinclear whether Deutche Bank’s Vice President had the authority to act in terms of satisfying the proof of facts constituting this claim (see CPLR 3215[fl; Wells Fargo Barzk, NA v Davilmar, 16 Misc3d 1 13 3A, 847 NYS2d 906 [2007]).

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Banks’ Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis

Banks’ Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis

ProPublica

Over the last two years of the housing bubble, Wall Street bankers perpetrated one of the greatest episodes of self-dealing in financial history.

Faced with increasing difficulty in selling the mortgage-backed securities that had been among their most lucrative products, the banks hit on a solution that preserved their quarterly earnings and huge bonuses:

They created fake demand.

A ProPublica analysis shows for the first time the extent to which banks — primarily Merrill Lynch, but also Citigroup, UBS and others — bought their own products and cranked up an assembly line that otherwise should have flagged.

The products they were buying and selling were at the heart of the 2008 meltdown — collections of mortgage bonds known as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs.

As the housing boom began to slow in mid-2006, investors became skittish about the riskier parts of those investments. So the banks created — and ultimately provided most of the money for — new CDOs. Those new CDOs bought the hard-to-sell pieces of the original CDOs. The result was a daisy chain [1] that solved one problem but created another: Each new CDO had its own risky pieces. Banks created yet other CDOs to buy those.

Individual instances of these questionable trades have been reported before, but ProPublica’s investigation shows that by late 2006 they became a common industry practice.

Source: Thetica SystemsSource: Thetica Systems

An analysis by research firm Thetica Systems, commissioned by ProPublica, shows that in the last years of the boom, CDOs had become the dominant purchaser of key, risky parts of other CDOs, largely replacing real investors like pension funds. By 2007, 67 percent of those slices were bought by other CDOs, up from 36 percent just three years earlier. The banks often orchestrated these purchases. In the last two years of the boom, nearly half of all CDOs sponsored by market leader Merrill Lynch bought significant portions of other Merrill CDOs [2].ProPublica also found 85 instances during 2006 and 2007 in which two CDOs bought pieces of each other’s unsold inventory. These trades, which involved $107 billion worth of CDOs, underscore the extent to which the market lacked real buyers. Often the CDOs that swapped purchases closed within days of each other, the analysis shows.

There were supposed to be protections against this sort of abuse. While banks provided the blueprint for the CDOs and marketed them, they typically selected independent managers who chose the specific bonds to go inside them. The managers had a legal obligation to do what was best for the CDO. They were paid by the CDO, not the bank, and were supposed to serve as a bulwark against self-dealing by the banks, which had the fullest understanding of the complex and lightly regulated mortgage bonds.

It rarely worked out that way. The managers were beholden to the banks that sent them the business. On a billion-dollar deal, managers could earn a million dollars in fees, with little risk. Some small firms did several billion dollars of CDOs in a matter of months.

“All these banks for years were spawning trading partners,” says a former executive from Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, a major insurer of the CDO market. “You don’t have a trading partner? Create one.”

The executive, like most of the dozens of people ProPublica spoke with about the inner workings of the market at the time, asked not to be named out of fear of being sucked into ongoing investigations or because they are involved in civil litigation.

Keeping the assembly line going had a wealth of short-term advantages for the banks. Fees rolled in. A typical CDO could net the bank that created it between $5 million and $10 million — about half of which usually ended up as employee bonuses. Indeed, Wall Street awarded record bonuses in 2006, a hefty chunk of which came from the CDO business.

The self-dealing super-charged the market for CDOs, enticing some less-savvy investors to try their luck. Crucially, such deals maintained the value of mortgage bonds at a time when the lack of buyers should have driven their prices down.

But the strategy of speeding up the assembly line had devastating consequences for homeowners, the banks themselves and, ultimately, the global economy. Because of Wall Street’s machinations, more mortgages had been granted to ever-shakier borrowers. The results can now be seen in foreclosed houses across America.

The incestuous trading also made the CDOs more intertwined and thus fragile, accelerating their decline in value that began in the fall of 2007 and deepened over the next year. Most are now worth pennies on the dollar. Nearly half of the nearly trillion dollars in losses to the global banking system came from CDOs, losses ultimately absorbed by taxpayers and investors around the world. The banks’ troubles sent the world’s economies into a tailspin from which they have yet to recover.

It remains unclear whether any of this violated laws. The SEC has said [4] that it is actively looking at as many as 50 CDO managers as part of its broad examination of the CDO business’ role in the financial crisis. In particular, the agency is focusing on the relationship between the banks and the managers. The SEC is exploring how deals were structured, if any quid pro quo arrangements existed, and whether banks pressured managers to take bad assets.

The banks declined to directly address ProPublica’s questions. Asked about its relationship with managers and the cross-ownership among its CDOs, Citibank responded with a one-sentence statement:

“It has been widely reported that there are ongoing industry-wide investigations into CDO-related matters and we do not comment on pending investigations.”

None of ProPublica’s questions had mentioned the SEC or pending investigations.

Posed a similar list of questions, Bank of America, which now owns Merrill Lynch, said:

“These are very specific questions regarding individuals who left Merrill Lynch several years ago and a CDO origination business that, due to market conditions, was discontinued by Merrill before Bank of America acquired the company.”

This is the second installment of a ProPublica series about the largely hidden history of the CDO boom and bust. Our first story [5] looked at how one hedge fund helped create at least $40 billion in CDOs as part of a strategy to bet against the market. This story turns the focus on the banks.

Merrill Lynch Pioneers Pervert the Market
By 2004, the housing market was in full swing, and Wall Street bankers flocked to the CDO frenzy. It seemed to be the perfect money machine, and for a time everyone was happy.

Homeowners got easy mortgages. Banks and mortgage companies felt secure lending the money because they could sell the mortgages almost immediately to Wall Street and get back all their cash plus a little extra for their trouble. The investment banks charged massive fees for repackaging the mortgages into fancy financial products. Investors all around the world got to play in the then-phenomenal American housing market.

The mortgages were bundled into bonds, which were in turn combined into CDOs offering varying interest rates and levels of risk.

Investors holding the top tier of a CDO were first in line to get money coming from mortgages. By 2006, some banks often kept this layer, which credit agencies blessed with their highest rating of Triple A.

Buyers of the lower tiers took on more risk and got higher returns. They would be the first to take the hit if homeowners funding the CDO stopped paying their mortgages. (Here’s a video explaining how CDOs worked [6].)

Over time, these risky slices became increasingly hard to sell, posing a problem for the banks. If they remained unsold, the sketchy assets stayed on their books, like rotting inventory. That would require the banks to set aside money to cover any losses. Banks hate doing that because it means the money can’t be loaned out or put to other uses.

Being stuck with the risky portions of CDOs would ultimately lower profits and endanger the whole assembly line.

The banks, notably Merrill and Citibank, solved this problem by greatly expanding what had been a common and accepted practice: CDOs buying small pieces of other CDOs.

Architects of CDOs typically included what they called a “bucket” — which held bits of other CDOs paying higher rates of interest. The idea was to boost overall returns of deals primarily composed of safer assets. In the early days, the bucket was a small portion of an overall CDO.

One pioneer of pushing CDOs to buy CDOs was Merrill Lynch’s Chris Ricciardi, who had been brought to the firm in 2003 to take Merrill to the top of the CDO business. According to former colleagues, Ricciardi’s team cultivated managers, especially smaller firms.

Merrill exercised its leverage over the managers. A strong relationship with Merrill could be the difference between a business that thrived and one that didn’t. The more deals the banks gave a manager, the more money the manager got paid.

As the head of Merrill’s CDO business, Ricciardi also wooed managers with golf outings and dinners. One Merrill executive summed up the overall arrangement: “I’m going to make you rich. You just have to be my bitch.”

But not all managers went for it.

An executive from Trainer Wortham, a CDO manager, recalls a 2005 conversation with Ricciardi. “I wasn’t going to buy other CDOs. Chris said: ‘You don’t get it. You have got to buy other guys’ CDOs to get your deal done. That’s how it works.'” When the manager refused, Ricciardi told him, “‘That’s it. You are not going to get another deal done.'” Trainer Wortham largely withdrew from the market, concerned about the practice and the overheated prices for CDOs.

Ricciardi declined multiple requests to comment.

Merrill CDOs often bought slices of other Merrill deals. This seems to have happened more in the second half of any given year, according to ProPublica’s analysis, though the purchases were still a small portion compared to what would come later. Annual bonuses are based on the deals bankers completed by yearend.

Ricciardi left Merrill Lynch in February 2006. But the machine he put into place not only survived his departure, it became a model for competitors.

As Housing Market Wanes, Self-Dealing Takes Off
By mid-2006, the housing market was on the wane. This was particularly true for subprime mortgages, which were given to borrowers with spotty credit at higher interest rates. Subprime lenders began to fold, in what would become a mass extinction. In the first half of the year, the percentage of subprime borrowers who didn’t even make the first month’s mortgage payment tripled from the previous year.

That made CDO investors like pension funds and insurance companies increasingly nervous. If homeowners couldn’t make their mortgage payments, then the stream of cash to CDOs would dry up. Real “buyers began to shrivel and shrivel,” says Fiachra O’Driscoll, who co-ran Credit Suisse’s CDO business from 2003 to 2008.

Faced with disappearing investor demand, bankers could have wound down the lucrative business and moved on. That’s the way a market is supposed to work. Demand disappears; supply follows. But bankers were making lots of money. And they had amassed warehouses full of CDOs and other mortgage-based assets whose value was going down.

Rather than stop, bankers at Merrill, Citi, UBS and elsewhere kept making CDOs.

The question was: Who would buy them?

The top 80 percent, the less risky layers or so-called “super senior,” were held by the banks themselves. The beauty of owning that supposedly safe top portion was that it required hardly any money be held in reserve.

That left 20 percent, which the banks did not want to keep because it was riskier and required them to set aside reserves to cover any losses. Banks often sold the bottom, riskiest part to hedge funds [5]. That left the middle layer, known on Wall Street as the “mezzanine,” which was sold to new CDOs whose top 80 percent was ultimately owned by … the banks.

“As we got further into 2006, the mezzanine was going into other CDOs,” says Credit Suisse’s O’Driscoll.

This was the daisy chain [1]. On paper, the risky stuff was gone, held by new independent CDOs. In reality, however, the banks were buying their own otherwise unsellable assets.

How could something so seemingly short-sighted have happened?

It’s one of the great mysteries of the crash. Banks have fleets of risk managers to defend against just such reckless behavior. Top executives have maintained that while they suspected that the housing market was cooling, they never imagined the crash. For those doing the deals, the payoff was immediate. The dangers seemed abstract and remote.

The CDO managers played a crucial role. CDOs were so complex that even buyers had a hard time seeing exactly what was in them — making a neutral third party that much more essential.

“When you’re investing in a CDO you are very much putting your faith in the manager,” says Peter Nowell, a former London-based investor for the Royal Bank of Scotland. “The manager is choosing all the bonds that go into the CDO.” (RBS suffered mightily in the global financial meltdown, posting the largest loss in United Kingdom history, and was de facto nationalized by the British government.)

Source: Asset-Backed AlertSource: Asset-Backed Alert

By persuading managers to pick the unsold slices of CDOs, the banks helped keep the market going. “It guaranteed distribution when, quite frankly, there was not a huge market for them,” says Nowell.The counterintuitive result was that even as investors began to vanish, the mortgage CDO market more than doubled from 2005 to 2006, reaching $226 billion, according to the trade publication Asset-Backed Alert.

Citi and Merrill Hand Out Sweetheart Deals
As the CDO market grew, so did the number of CDO management firms, including many small shops that relied on a single bank for most of their business. According to Fitch, the number of CDO managers it rated rose from 89 in July 2006 to 140 in September 2007.

One CDO manager epitomized the devolution of the business, according to numerous industry insiders: a Wall Street veteran named Wing Chau.

Earlier in the decade, Chau had run the CDO department for Maxim Group, a boutique investment firm in New York. Chau had built a profitable business for Maxim based largely on his relationship with Merrill Lynch. In just a few years, Maxim had corralled more than $4 billion worth of assets under management just from Merrill CDOs.

In August 2006, Chau bolted from Maxim to start his own CDO management business, taking several colleagues with him. Chau’s departure gave Merrill, the biggest CDO producer, one more avenue for unsold inventory.

Chau named the firm Harding, after the town in New Jersey where he lived. The CDO market was starting its most profitable stretch ever, and Harding would play a big part. In an eleven-month period, ending in August 2007, Harding managed $13 billion of CDOs, including more than $5 billion from Merrill, and another nearly $5 billion from Citigroup. (Chau would later earn a measure of notoriety for a cameo appearance in Michael Lewis’ bestseller “The Big Short [7],” where he is depicted as a cheerfully feckless “go-to buyer” for Merrill Lynch’s CDO machine.)

Chau had a long-standing friendship with Ken Margolis, who was Merrill’s top CDO salesman under Ricciardi. When Ricciardi left Merrill in 2006, Margolis became a co-head of Merrill’s CDO group. He carried a genial, let’s-just-get-the-deal-done demeanor into his new position. An avid poker player, Margolis told a friend that in a previous job he had stood down a casino owner during a foreclosure negotiation after the owner had threatened to put a fork through his eye.

Chau’s close relationship with Merrill continued. In late 2006, Merrill sublet office space to Chau’s startup in the Merrill tower in Lower Manhattan’s financial district. A Merrill banker, David Moffitt, scheduled visits to Harding for prospective investors in the bank’s CDOs. “It was a nice office,” overlooking New York Harbor, recalls a CDO buyer. “But it did feel a little weird that it was Merrill’s building,” he said.

Moffitt did not respond to requests for comment.

Under Margolis, other small managers with meager track records were also suddenly handling CDOs valued at as much as $2 billion. Margolis declined to answer any questions about his own involvement in these matters.

A Wall Street Journal article [8] ($) from late 2007, one of the first of its kind, described how Margolis worked with one inexperienced CDO manager called NIR on a CDO named Norma, in the spring of that year. The Long Island-based NIR made about $1.5 million a year for managing Norma, a CDO that imploded.

“NIR’s collateral management business had arisen from efforts by Merrill Lynch to assemble a stable of captive small firms to manage its CDOs that would be beholden to Merrill Lynch on account of the business it funneled to them,” alleged a lawsuit filed in New York state court against Merrill over Norma that was settled quietly after the plaintiffs received internal Merrill documents.

NIR declined to comment.

Banks had a variety of ways to influence managers’ behavior.

Some of the few outside investors remaining in the market believed that the manager would do a better job if he owned a small slice of the CDO he was managing. That way, the manager would have more incentive to manage the investment well, since he, too, was an investor. But small management firms rarely had money to invest. Some banks solved this problem by advancing money to managers such as Harding.

Chau’s group managed two Citigroup CDOs — 888 Tactical Fund and Jupiter High-Grade VII — in which the bank loaned Harding money to buy risky pieces of the deal. The loans would be paid back out of the fees the managers took from the CDO and its investors. The loans were disclosed to investors in a few sentences among the hundreds of pages of legalese accompanying the deals.

In response to ProPublica’s questions, Chau’s lawyer said, “Harding Advisory’s dealings with investment banks were proper and fully disclosed.”

Citigroup made similar deals with other managers. The bank lent money to a manager called Vanderbilt Capital Advisors for its Armitage CDO, completed in March 2007.

Vanderbilt declined to comment. It couldn’t be learned how much money Citigroup loaned or whether it was ever repaid.

Yet again banks had masked their true stakes in CDO. Banks were lending money to CDO managers so they could buy the banks’ dodgy assets. If the managers couldn’t pay the loans back — and most were thinly capitalized — the banks were on the hook for even more losses when the CDO business collapsed.

Goldman, Merrill and Others Get Tough
When the housing market deteriorated, banks took advantage of a little-used power they had over managers.

The way CDOs are put together, there is a brief period when the bonds picked by managers sit on the banks’ balance sheets. Because the value of such assets can fall, banks reserved the right to overrule managers’ selections.

According to numerous bankers, managers and investors, banks rarely wielded that veto until late 2006, after which it became common. Merrill was in the lead.

“I would go to Merrill and tell them that I wanted to buy, say, a Citi bond,” recalls a CDO manager. “They would say ‘no.’ I would suggest a UBS bond, they would say ‘no.’ Eventually, you got the joke.” Managers could choose assets to put into their CDOs but they had to come from Merrill CDOs. One rival investment banker says Merrill treated CDO managers the way Henry Ford treated his Model T customers: You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black.

Once, Merrill’s Ken Margolis pushed a manager to buy a CDO slice for a Merrill-produced CDO called Port Jackson that was completed in the beginning of 2007: “‘You don’t have to buy the deal but you are crazy if you don’t because of your business,'” an executive at the management firm recalls Margolis telling him. “‘We have a big pipeline and only so many more mandates to give you.’ You got the message.” In other words: Take our stuff and we’ll send you more business. If not, forget it.

Margolis declined to comment on the incident.

“All the managers complained about it,” recalls O’Driscoll, the former Credit Suisse banker who competed with other investment banks to put deals together and market them. But “they were indentured slaves.” O’Driscoll recalls managers grumbling that Merrill in particular told them “what to buy and when to buy it.”

Other big CDO-producing banks quickly adopted the practice.

A little-noticed document released this year during a congressional investigation into Goldman Sachs’ CDO business reveals that bank’s thinking. The firm wrote a November 2006 internal memorandum [9] about a CDO called Timberwolf, managed by Greywolf, a small manager headed by ex-Goldman bankers. In a section headed “Reasons To Pursue,” the authors touted that “Goldman is approving every asset” that will end up in the CDO. What the bank intended to do with that approval power is clear from the memo: “We expect that a significant portion of the portfolio by closing will come from Goldman’s offerings.”

When asked to comment whether Goldman’s memo demonstrates that it had effective control over the asset selection process and that Greywolf was not in fact an independent manager, the bank responded: “Greywolf was an experienced, independent manager and made its own decisions about what reference assets to include. The securities included in Timberwolf were fully disclosed to the professional investors who invested in the transaction.”

Greywolf declined to comment. One of the investors, Basis Capital of Australia, filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan against Goldman over the deal. The bank maintains the lawsuit is without merit.

By March 2007, the housing market’s signals were flashing red. Existing home sales plunged at the fastest rate in almost 20 years. Foreclosures were on the rise. And yet, to CDO buyer Peter Nowell’s surprise, banks continued to churn out CDOs.

“We were pulling back. We couldn’t find anything safe enough,” says Nowell. “We were amazed that April through June they were still printing deals. We thought things were over.”

Instead, the CDO machine was in overdrive. Wall Street produced $70 billion in mortgage CDOs in the first quarter of the year.

Many shareholder lawsuits battling their way through the court system today focus on this period of the CDO market. They allege that the banks were using the sales of CDOs to other CDOs to prop up prices and hide their losses.

“Citi’s CDO operations during late 2006 and 2007 functioned largely to sell CDOs to yet newer CDOs created by Citi to house them,” charges a pending shareholder lawsuit against the bank that was filed in federal court in Manhattan in February 2009. “Citigroup concocted a scheme whereby it repackaged many of these investments into other freshly-baked vehicles to avoid incurring a loss.”

Citigroup described the allegations as “irrational,” saying the bank’s executives would never knowingly take actions that would lead to “catastrophic losses.”

In the Hall of Mirrors, Myopic Rating Agencies
The portion of CDOs owned by other CDOs grew right alongside the market. What had been 5 percent of CDOs (remember the “bucket”) now came to constitute as much as 30 or 40 percent of new CDOs. (Wall Street also rolled out CDOs that were almost entirely made up of CDOs, called CDO squareds [10].)

The ever-expanding bucket provided new opportunities for incestuous trades.

It worked like this: A CDO would buy a piece of another CDO, which then returned the favor. The transactions moved both CDOs closer to completion, when bankers and managers would receive their fees.

Source: Thetica SystemsSource: Thetica Systems

ProPublica’s analysis shows that in the final two years of the business, CDOs with cross-ownership amounted to about one-fifth of the market, about $107 billion.Here’s an example from early May 2007:

  • A CDO called Jupiter VI bought a piece of a CDO called Tazlina II.
  • Tazlina II bought a piece of Jupiter VI.

Both Jupiter VI and Tazlina II were created by Merrill and were completed within a week of each other. Both were managed by small firms that did significant business with Merrill: Jupiter by Wing Chau’s Harding, and Tazlina by Terwin Advisors. Chau did not respond to questions about this deal. Terwin Advisors could not reached.

Just a few weeks earlier, CDO managers completed a comparable swap between Jupiter VI and another Merrill CDO called Forge 1.

Forge has its own intriguing history. It was the only deal done by a tiny manager of the same name based in Tampa, Fla. The firm was started less than a year earlier by several former Wall Street executives with mortgage experience. It received seed money from Bryan Zwan, who in 2001 settled an SEC civil lawsuit over his company’s accounting problems in a federal court in Florida. Zwan and Forge executives didn’t respond to requests for comment.

After seemingly coming out of nowhere, Forge won the right to manage a $1.5 billion Merrill CDO. That earned Forge a visit from the rating agency Moody’s.

“We just wanted to make sure that they actually existed,” says a former Moody’s executive. The rating agency saw that the group had an office near the airport and expertise to do the job.

Rating agencies regularly did such research on managers, but failed to ask more fundamental questions. The credit ratings agencies “did heavy, heavy due diligence on managers but they were looking for the wrong things: how you processed a ticket or how your surveillance systems worked,” says an executive at a CDO manager. “They didn’t check whether you were buying good bonds.”

One Forge employee recalled in a recent interview that he was amazed Merrill had been able to find buyers so quickly. “They were able to sell all the tranches” — slices of the CDO — “in a fairly rapid period of time,” said Rod Jensen, a former research analyst for Forge.

Forge achieved this feat because Merrill sold the slices to other CDOs, many linked to Merrill.

The ProPublica analysis shows that two Merrill CDOs, Maxim II and West Trade III, each bought pieces of Forge. Small managers oversaw both deals.

Forge, in turn, was filled with detritus from Merrill. Eighty-two percent of the CDO bonds owned by Forge came from other Merrill deals.

Citigroup did its own version of the shuffle, as these three CDOs demonstrate:

  • A CDO called Octonion bought some of Adams Square Funding II.
  • • Adams Square II bought a piece of Octonion.
  • • A third CDO, Class V Funding III, also bought some of Octonion.
  • • Octonion, in turn, bought a piece of Class V Funding III.

All of these Citi deals were completed within days of each other. Wing Chau was once again a central player. His firm managed Octonion. The other two were managed by a unit of Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Not all cross-ownership deals were consummated.

In spring 2007, Deutsche Bank was creating a CDO and found a manager that wanted to take a piece of it. The manager was overseeing a CDO that Merrill was assembling. Merrill blocked the manager from putting the Deutsche bonds into the Merrill CDO. A former Deutsche Bank banker says that when Deutsche Bank complained to Andy Phelps, a Merrill CDO executive, Phelps offered a quid pro quo: If Deutsche was willing to have the manager of its CDO buy some Merrill bonds, Merrill would stop blocking the purchase. Phelps declined to comment.

The Deutsche banker, who says its managers were independent, recalls being shocked: “We said we don’t control what people buy in their deals.” The swap didn’t happen.

The Missing Regulators and the Aftermath
In September 2007, as the market finally started to catch up with Merrill Lynch, Ken Margolis left the firm to join Wing Chau at Harding.

Chau and Margolis circulated a marketing plan for a new hedge fund to prospective investors touting their expertise in how CDOs were made and what was in them. The fund proposed to buy failed CDOs — at bargain basement prices. In the end, Margolis and Chau couldn’t make the business work and dropped the idea.

Why didn’t regulators intervene during the boom to stop the self-dealing that had permeated the CDO market?

No one agency had authority over the whole business. Since the business came and went in just a few years, it may have been too much to expect even assertive regulators to comprehend what was happening in time to stop it.

While the financial regulatory bill passed by Congress in July creates more oversight powers, it’s unclear whether regulators have sufficient tools to prevent a replay of the debacle.

In just two years, the CDO market had cut a swath of destruction. Partly because CDOs had bought so many pieces of each other, they collapsed in unison. Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, the biggest perpetrators of the self-dealing, were among the biggest losers. Merrill lost about $26 billion on mortgage CDOs and Citigroup about $34 billion.

Additional reporting by Kitty Bennett, Krista Kjellman Schmidt, Lisa Schwartz and Karen Weise.


© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in bank of america, cdo, citi, CitiGroup, concealment, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, Credit Suisse, deutsche bank, Economy, goldman sachs, investigation, Merrill Lynch, racketeering, RICO, rmbs, stock, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, trade secrets, Wall Street0 Comments

‘Jingle Mail’: Developers Are Giving Up On Properties

‘Jingle Mail’: Developers Are Giving Up On Properties

By KRIS HUDSON And A.D. PRUITT

Like homeowners walking away from mortgaged houses that plummeted in value, some of the largest commercial-property owners are defaulting on debts and surrendering buildings worth less than their loans.

Companies such as Macerich Co., Vornado Realty Trust and Simon Property Group Inc. have recently stopped making mortgage payments to put pressure on lenders to restructure debts. In many cases they have walked away, sending keys to properties whose values had fallen far below the mortgage amounts, a process known as “jingle mail.” These companies all have piles of cash to make the payments. They are simply opting to default because they believe it makes good business sense.

“We don’t do this lightly,” said Robert Taubman, chief executive of Taubman Centers Inc. The luxury-mall owner, with upscale properties such as the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, decided earlier this year to stop covering interest payments on its $135 million mortgage on the Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City, N.J.

Taubman, which estimates the mall is now worth only $52 million, gave it back to its mortgage holder.

“Where it’s fairly obvious that the gap is large, as it was with the Pier Shops, individual owners are making very tough decisions,” he said.

These pragmatic decisions by companies to walk away from commercial mortgages come as a debate rages in the residential-real-estate world about “strategic defaults,” when homeowners stop making loan payments even though they can afford them. Instead, they decide to default because the house is “underwater,” meaning its value has fallen to a level less than its debt.

Banking-industry officials and others have argued that homeowners have a moral obligation to pay their debts even when it seems to make good business sense to default. Individuals who walk away from their homes also face blemishes to their credit ratings and, in some states, creditors can sue them for the losses they suffer.

But in the business world, there is less of a stigma even though lenders, including individual investors, get stuck holding a depressed property in a down market. Indeed, investors are rewarding public companies for ditching profit-draining investments. Deutsche Bank AG’s RREEF, which manages $56 billion in real-estate investments, now favors companies that jettison cash-draining properties with nonrecourse debt, loans that don’t allow banks to hold landlords personally responsible if they default. The theory is that those companies fare better by diverting money to shareholders or more lucrative projects.

“To the extent that they give back assets or are able to rework the [mortgage] terms, it just accrues to the benefit” of the real-estate investment trust, says Jerry Ehlinger, RREEF’s co-chief of real-estate securities.

Continue reading…Wall Street Journal

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in Bank Owned, commercial, deutsche bank, walk away0 Comments

PALM BEACH COUNTY FORECLOSURES: THE PURSUIT OF NON-PERFORMING MORTGAGES IN 2009 BY BANK OF AMERICA & DEUTSCHE BANK

PALM BEACH COUNTY FORECLOSURES: THE PURSUIT OF NON-PERFORMING MORTGAGES IN 2009 BY BANK OF AMERICA & DEUTSCHE BANK

By Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Ed., Fraud Digest, August 23, 2010

In 2009, Bank of America filed 3,200 foreclosure actions in Palm Beach County; Deutsche Bank National Trust Company filed 2,375 foreclosure actions. Most of these foreclosure actions were filed on behalf of mortgage-backed trusts. The county records show that at the same time these bank/trustees were filing foreclosure actions, they were also acquiring thousands of other “non-performing” mortgages for trusts.

These statistics are similar in counties across the country. Judges rarely question these foreclosures and acquisitions, but in Brooklyn, a few judges have been curious about these patterns and have asked the trustee/banks to explain why they were acquiring nonperforming loans for the trusts and whether such acquisition was a violation of the trustee’s fiduciary duty to the trust.

“The Court wonders why HSBC would purchase a  on-performing loan, four months in arrears?”

– Judge Arthur M. Schack of Kings County, New York, in HSBC Bank v. Valentin, 2008, NY Slip Op 52167(U), 21 Misc. 3d 1124 [A]
“Further, the Court requires an explanation from an officer of plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK as to why, in the middle of our national sub-prime mortgage financial crisis, DEUTSCHE BANK would purchase a nonperforming loan from INDYMAC…”

– Judge Arthur M. Schack of Kings County, New York, in Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Harris, Kings, New York, Index No. 39192/2007 (05 FEB 2008)

This pattern of acquiring non-performing mortgages, then immediately pursuing foreclosures, was very evident in 2009 in Palm Beach County, a county particularly hard-hit by the mortgage crisis.

Bank of America (“BOA”) and Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (“DBNTC”) acquired thousands of mortgages in 2009. Most often, BOA and DBNTC acquired these “foreclosure imminent mortgages” while acting as Trustees for residential mortgage-backed securitized “RMBS” trusts. In almost every case, these acquisitions were made for trusts that closed several years prior to the 2009 acquisitions.

• How often are RMBS trusts acquiring mortgages where the foreclosure is imminent?

• What trusts are acquiring these “foreclosure imminent” mortgages?

• Have the Trustees disclosed to the investors that the trusts have embarked on this path that will cause the trusts to incur significant costs and attorney’s fees to pursue these foreclosures?

• Are the trusts following local court rules making to resolve these cases through mediation and possibly modification?

• Have the Trustees disclosed to investors that, even where the foreclosure is “successful,” the trusts in many cases have acquired properties worth far less than the mortgage amount, with the obligation to pay taxes, purchase insurance and maintain the properties?

• Have the Trustees disclosed that the mortgages being acquired have chain-of-title problems that will make resales difficult and costly?

• Have the Trustees disclosed to the Securities & Exchange Commission that they have embarked on this new, risky, costly activity of acquiring “foreclosure imminent” mortgages, often in violation of the terms of the trust’s obligations as set forth in the Pooling & Servicing Agreement of the trust; specifically, have the Trustees disclosed that they are acquiring many mortgages long after the closing date of the trust?

• Have the Trustees disclosed to the Internal Revenue Service that the trusts have embarked on this new activity of acquiring “foreclosure imminent” mortgages, in violation of the terms of the trust’s Pooling & Servicing Agreement; specifically, have the Trustees disclosed that they are acquiring many mortgages long after the closing date of the trust; and specifically, have the trusts disclosed that these transactions do not qualify as tax-exempt REMIC transactions?

• Have the Trustees disclosed to the investors the tax consequences of these acquisitions?

An examination of mortgage assignments and foreclosures in Palm Beach County, Florida, by Trustees of Goldman Sachs Alternative Mortgage Product Trusts (“GSAMP”), Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I, Inc. (“MSABS”) trusts and Soundview Home Loan Trusts answers some of these questions.

MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS

In total, LaSalle Bank acquired 664 mortgages in Palm Beach County in 2009, and Bank of America acquired 736 mortgages. Because Bank of America is the successor in interest to LaSalle Bank, the total acquisitions in Palm Beach County in 2009 for Bank of America was 1,400. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company acquired 3,039 mortgages.

An examination of acquisitions for particular trusts shows that the majority of these acquisitions were made as Trustees for mortgagebacked trusts and the majority of mortgages acquired were “foreclosure imminent” mortgages. In hundreds of cases, BOA and DBNTC filed foreclosure actions within days of acquiring the mortgages.

According to recorded documents, GSAMP (Goldman Sachs Alternative Mortgage Products) Trusts acquired 100 mortgages in Palm Beach County in 2009, Soundview Home Loan Trusts acquired 101 mortgages and Morgan Stanley ABS Capital 1 Trusts acquired 117 mortgages.

LIS PENDENS

The filing of a Lis Pendens is the first step in the foreclosure process in Florida (a judicial foreclosure state). The filing of a Lis Pendens alerts all interested persons that a court has acquired jurisdiction over the property described in the Lis Pendens.

In 2009, the Trustees of GSAMP Trusts filed 119 Lis Pendens; the trustees of Soundview Trusts filed 91 Lis Pendens; and the trustees of Morgan Stanley ABS Capital 1 Trusts filed 136 Lis Pendens.

Almost half of the GSAMP foreclosures were filed by Bank of America as successor to LaSalle Bank, or by LaSalle Bank, as Trustee for a GSAMP Trust; most of the other GSAMP foreclosures were filed by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee.

Assignments of Mortgages were recorded less than half of these cases. No document filed in the official records of Palm Beach County established the right of the Trustees to file these foreclosure actions.

The failure to record the mortgage makes proof of chain-of-title more difficult to establish, and is likely to impair the resale of the foreclosed property. Local governments are also deprived of filing fees at a time when every source of revenue to local government is important.

In the cases with recorded Mortgage Assignments, over 90% of the Assignments were dated AFTER the foreclosure action was filed. In these cases, from the records, BANK OF AMERICA and DEUTSCHE BANK filed for foreclosure several days, weeks, or months BEFORE they even acquired the mortgages for the Trusts.

The majority of the Assignments to GSAMP Trusts were signed by an employee of Litton Loan Servicing, a mortgage servicing company bought by Goldman Sachs in 2007. Employees of the foreclosing law firms also signed many of the Assignments. The law firm employees did not disclose that they were law firm employees. Instead, they used titles as officers of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”). The Litton Loan employees also used MERS titles so it is not readily apparent that a Goldman subsidiary – not the original lender – was assigning these mortgages to a Goldman trust.

The vast majority of the Soundview foreclosures were filed by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as Trustee. Again, in the cases with recorded Mortgage Assignments, the records show that in the majority of cases, DEUTSCHE BANK filed for foreclosure several days, weeks, or months BEFORE they even acquired the mortgages for the Trusts.

The majority of the Assignments to Soundview Trusts were signed by an employee of Lender Processing Services (“LPS”), a publiclytraded company that specializes in “facilitating” foreclosures for banks.

Employees of the foreclosing law firms also signed many of the Soundview Assignments. The law firm employees did not disclose that they were law firm employees. Instead, they used titles as officers of MERS. The LPS employees also used MERS titles so it is not readily apparent that a company working for the Trustees – not the original lender – was assigning these mortgages to the Soundview trusts.

The vast majority of the Morgan Stanley ABS Capital 1, Inc. foreclosures were filed by Deutsche Bank National Trust
Company, as Trustee. Again, in the cases with recorded Mortgage Assignments, the records show that in the majority
of cases, DEUTSCHE BANK filed for foreclosure several days, weeks, or months BEFORE they even acquired the mortgages for the Trusts.

The majority of the Assignments to Morgan Stanley ABS Capital 1, Inc. Trusts were also signed by an employee of LPS. Employees of the foreclosing law firms also signed many of the Morgan Stanley ABS Capital Assignments. Again, the law firm employees did not disclose that they were law firm employees. Instead, they used titles as officers of MERS. The LPS employees also used MERS titles so it is not readily apparent that a company working for the Trustees – not the original lender – was assigning these mortgages to the Morgan Stanley ABS Capital 1 Trusts.

WHY PURSUE NON-PERFORMING LOANS?

Fees from the government-funded loan modification program funds (“HAMP Funds”) may be an incentive for RMBS Trusts and their mortgage servicing companies to acquire non-performing loans.

Another incentive may be the opportunity to sell distressed loans to securities companies that are busily putting together new funds made up primarily of non-performing mortgages. Some authorities believe trusts may be acquiring non-performing loans so that the trust may reach the level of defaults necessary to make a claim on the financial guaranty insurance policies of the trust.

THE ACQUISITIONS THAT NEVER HAPPENED

Another explanation is that in the vast majority of cases, these mortgage assignments NEVER HAPPENED as represented in the documents. The trusts did not acquire the mortgages in 2009. Banks, trusts and/or their mortgage servicing companies and law firms may have created and filed hundreds of thousands of mortgage assignments so that they could use these very documents to “prove” that they had the legal right to foreclose – and conceal this simple truth: many trusts failed to ever acquire the mortgages they promised investors and regulators they had acquired.

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, fraud digest, Lender Processing Services Inc., LPS, Lynn Szymoniak ESQ, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., notary fraud, trustee0 Comments

MERS is NOT in FACT a “MORTGAGEE”| MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. v. SAUNDERS

MERS is NOT in FACT a “MORTGAGEE”| MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. v. SAUNDERS

MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. v. SAUNDERS

2010 ME 79

MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.,
v.
JON E. SAUNDERS et al.

Docket: Cum-09-640.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

Argued: June 15, 2010.

Decided: August 12, 2010.

Michael K. Martin, Esq. Petruccelli, Martin & Haddow 50 Monument Square Portland, Maine 04101, Thomas A. Cox, Esq. (orally), PO Box 1314 Portland, Maine 04104, Attorneys for Belinda and Jon Saunders.

John A. Turcotte, Esq. (orally) Ainsworth, Thelin & Raftice, P.A. 7 Ocean Street PO Box 2412 South Portland, Maine 04116-2412, Attorneys for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, LEVY, SILVER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.

GORMAN, J.

[¶ 1] Jon E. Saunders and Belinda L. Saunders appeal from entry of a summary judgment in the District Court (Bridgton, Powers, J.) in favor of Deutsche Bank National Trust Company[ 1 ] on Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.’s (MERS) complaint for foreclosure and sale of the Saunderses’ home, pursuant to 14 M.R.S. §§ 6321-6325 (2009). The Saunderses contend that the court erred in granting summary judgment to the Bank because: (1) MERS did not have a stake in the proceedings and therefore had no standing to initiate the foreclosure action, (2) the substitution of parties could not be used to cure the jurisdictional defect of lack of standing and was therefore improper, and (3) there are genuine issues of material fact.

[¶ 2] We conclude that although MERS is not in fact a “mortgagee” within the meaning of our foreclosure statute, 14 M.R.S. §§ 6321-6325, and therefore had no standing to institute foreclosure proceedings, the real party in interest was the Bank and the court did not abuse its discretion by substituting the Bank for MERS. Because, however, the Bank was not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, we vacate the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶ 3] In June of 2006, Jon Saunders executed and delivered a promissory note in the amount of $258,750 to Accredited Home Lenders, Inc. At the same time, both Jon and Belinda Saunders executed a mortgage document, securing that note, in favor of MERS, solely as “nominee for [Accredited] and [Accredited]’s successors and assigns.”

[¶ 4] When the Saunderses failed to make certain payments on the note, MERS filed a complaint for foreclosure in the District Court on February 4, 2009. The Saunderses filed an answer that denied the complaint’s allegations and asserted, among others, the affirmative defense of lack of standing. MERS moved for summary judgment on its complaint on May 27, 2009. In its accompanying statement of material facts, MERS asserted that it was the “holder” of both the mortgage and the note, but neither indicated whether real property secured the note nor identified the real property of the Saunderses. The Saunderses controverted MERS’s ownership of the note in their opposing statement of material facts, citing admissions that MERS had made pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 36 that the Bank was in fact the holder of the note. The parties also disputed whether the Saunderses had received proper notice, whether the Saunderses were in default, and the amount owed on the loan. The court denied summary judgment on September 9, 2009, stating only: “Motion for summary judgment is denied as to [MERS], as there are issues of material fact preventing same and [MERS] is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

[¶ 5] One day after the court denied that motion, the Bank moved pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 25(c) to substitute itself for MERS in the foreclosure proceedings and also filed a reply to the Saunderses’ additional statement of material facts. Just over one week later, the Bank, which was not yet a party, filed a motion to reconsider or amend the order denying MERS’s motion for summary judgment, pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 59(e), and a motion for further findings pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 52(b).[ 2 ] In support of its motions, the Bank filed: (1) an undated, two-page allonge indicating that Accredited transferred the note to the Bank, and (2) an assignment indicating that MERS had transferred any rights it had in the note or mortgage to the Bank. These transfers occurred on July 8, 2009, during the course of litigation. The Saunderses opposed both motions and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment arguing that they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because neither MERS nor the Bank could show that MERS held the note at the time the suit commenced.

[¶ 6] On November 18, 2009, the court granted the Bank’s motion for substitution of parties, denied the Saunderses’ cross-motion for summary judgment, and granted summary judgment to the Bank. On December 16, 2009, the court entered a judgment of foreclosure and sale. The Saunderses filed a timely appeal pursuant to M.R. App. P. 2 and 14 M.R.S. § 1901 (2009).

II. DISCUSSION

A. MERS’s Standing

[¶ 7] The Saunderses contend that MERS had no stake in the outcome of the proceedings and therefore did not have standing to institute foreclosure. We review the threshold “issue of a party’s status for standing to sue de novo.” Lowry v. KTI Specialty Waste Servs., Inc., 2002 ME 58, ¶ 4, 794 A.2d 80, 81. At a minimum, “[s]tanding to sue means that the party, at the commencement of the litigation, has sufficient personal stake in the controversy to obtain judicial resolution of that controversy.” Halfway House Inc. v. City of Portland, 670 A.2d 1377, 1379 (Me. 1996) (citing Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 731 (1972)). Typically, a party’s personal stake in the litigation is evidenced by a particularized injury to the party’s property, pecuniary, or personal rights. See, e.g., Tomhegan Camp Owners Ass’n v. Murphy, 2000 ME 28, ¶ 6, 754 A.2d 334, 336; Stull v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., 2000 ME 21, ¶ 11, 745 A.2d 975, 979; cf. Fitzgerald v. Baxter State Park Auth., 385 A.2d 189, 196 (Me. 1978).

[¶ 8] The relationship of MERS to the transaction between the Saunderses and Accredited—mortgagors and the original mortgagee—is “not subject to an easy description” or classification. See Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 164 (Kan. 2009). Then Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals described the role and purpose of MERS thusly:

[MERS’s] purpose is to streamline the mortgage process by eliminating the need to prepare and record paper assignments of mortgage, as had been done for hundreds of years. To accomplish this goal, MERS acts as nominee and as mortgagee of record for its members nationwide and appoints itself nominee, as mortgagee, for its members’ successors and assigns, thereby remaining nominal mortgagee of record no matter how many times loan servicing, or the [debt] itself, may be transferred.

MERSCORP, Inc. v. Romaine, 861 N.E.2d 81, 86 (N.Y. 2006) (Kaye, C.J., dissenting). In Maine, we follow the title theory of mortgages; a mortgage is a conditional conveyance vesting legal title to the property in the mortgagee, with the mortgagor retaining the equitable right of redemption and the right to possession. See Johnson v. McNeil, 2002 ME 99, ¶ 10, 800 A.2d 702, 704. To determine whether MERS has standing in the present case, we must first examine what rights MERS had in the Saunderses’ debt and the mortgage securing that debt.

[¶ 9] In the note that Jon Saunders executed in favor of Accredited, there is no mention of MERS, and the Bank admitted in its statement of material facts that MERS never had an interest in the note. MERS is, however, included in the Saunderses’ mortgage document. The mortgage first defines MERS as:

(C) “MERS” is Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc. MERS is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns. MERS is organized and existing under the Laws of Delaware, and has an address and telephone number of P.O. Box 2026, Flint, MI 48501-2026, tel. (888) 679-MERS. FOR PURPOSES OF RECORDING THIS MORTGAGE, MERS IS THE MORTGAGEE OF RECORD.

The remaining references to MERS in the mortgage document are in the subsequent sections conveying the mortgage and describing the property conveyed:

[Borrowers] mortgage, grant and convey the Property to MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns), with mortgage covenants, subject to the terms of this Security Instrument, to have and to hold all of the Property to MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns), and to its successors and assigns, forever.

. . . .

[Borrowers] understand and agree that MERS holds only legal title to the rights granted by [Borrowers] in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns) has the right:

(A) to exercise any or all of those rights, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and

(B) to take any action required of Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.

. . . .

[Borrowers] grant and mortgage to MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors in interest) the Property described [below].

Each reference to MERS within the Saunderses’ mortgage describes MERS solely as the “nominee” to the lender.

[¶ 10] The only rights conveyed to MERS in either the Saunderses’ mortgage or the corresponding promissory note are bare legal title to the property for the sole purpose of recording the mortgage and the corresponding right to record the mortgage with the Registry of Deeds. This comports with the limited role of a nominee. A nominee is a “person designated to act in place of another, usu[ally] in a very limited way,” or a “party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others or who receives and distributes funds for the benefit of others.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1149 (9th ed. 2009); see also E. Milling Co. v. Flanagan, 152 Me. 380, 382-83, 130 A.2d 925, 926 (1957) (demonstrating the limited role of a nominee in a contract case). The remaining, beneficial rights in the mortgage and note are vested solely in the lender Accredited and its successors and assigns. The mortgage clearly provides that, by signing the instrument, the Saunderses were “giving [the] Lender those rights that are stated in this Security Instrument and also those rights that Applicable Law gives to Lenders who hold mortgages on real property.” (Emphasis added.) Not one of the mortgage covenants in the document, including the Saunderses’ obligations to make timely payments on the note, pay property taxes, obtain property insurance, and maintain and protect the property, is made to MERS or in favor of MERS. Each promise and covenant gives rights to the lender and its successors and assigns, whereas MERS’s rights are limited solely to acting as a nominee. The Bank argues that MERS’s status as a “nominee” for the lender and as the “mortgagee of record” within the document qualifies it as a “mortgagee” within 14 M.R.S. § 6321. We disagree.

[¶ 11] As discussed above, MERS’s only right is the right to record the mortgage. Its designation as the “mortgagee of record” in the document does not change or expand that right; and having only that right, MERS does not qualify as a mortgagee pursuant to our foreclosure statute, 14 M.R.S. §§ 6321-6325. Section 6321 provides: “After breach of condition in a mortgage of first priority, the mortgagee or any person claiming under the mortgagee may proceed for the purpose of foreclosure by a civil action . . . .” (Emphasis added.) It is a “fundamental rule of statutory interpretation that words in a statute must be given their plain and ordinary meanings.” Joyce v. State, 2008 ME 108, ¶ 11, 951 A.2d 69, 72 (quotation marks omitted); accord Hanson v. S.D. Warren Co., 2010 ME 51, ¶ 12, ___ A.2d ___, ___. The plain meaning and common understanding of mortgagee is “[o]ne to whom property is mortgaged,” meaning a “mortgage creditor, or lender.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1104 (9th ed. 2009). In other words, a mortgagee is a party that is entitled to enforce the debt obligation that is secured by a mortgage.[ 3 ]

[¶ 12] In order to enforce a debt obligation secured by a mortgage and note, a party must be in possession of the note.[ 4 ] See Premier Capital, Inc. v. Doucette, 2002 ME 83, ¶ 7, 797 A.2d 32, 34 (describing a note associated with a mortgage as a negotiable instrument). Pursuant to Maine’s adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code, the only party entitled to enforce a negotiable instrument is:

(1) The holder of the instrument;

(2) A nonholder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder; or

(3) A person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to section 3-1309 or 3-1418, subsection (4). A person may be a person entitled to enforce the instrument even though the person is not the owner of the instrument or is in wrongful possession of the instrument.

11 M.R.S. § 3-1301 (2009). MERS does not qualify under any subsection of section 3-1301 because, on this record, there is no evidence it held the note, was in possession of the note, was purporting to enforce a lost, destroyed, or stolen instrument pursuant to 11 M.R.S. § 3-1309 (2009), or was purporting to enforce a dishonored instrument pursuant to 11 M.R.S. § 3-1418(4) (2009).

[¶ 13] Alternatively, the Bank asserts that because the mortgage document itself purported to give MERS the right to foreclose the mortgage, MERS was entitled to enforce the mortgage as the “mortgagee of record.” In other jurisdictions utilizing non-judicial foreclosure, MERS has been able to institute foreclosure proceedings based on its designation in the mortgage as the “mortgagee of record.” See, e.g., In re Huggins, 357 B.R. 180, 184 (Bankr. Mass. 2006) (concluding that MERS had standing to institute foreclosure proceedings pursuant to the statutory power of sale in Massachusetts); Jackson v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys. Inc., 770 N.W.2d 487, 500-01 (Minn. 2009) (approving MERS’s ability to commence foreclosure as the legal title holder of the mortgage in non-judicial foreclosure proceedings in Minnesota). These cases are inapposite because non-judicial foreclosures do not invoke the jurisdiction of the courts. Non-judicial foreclosures proceed wholly outside of the judiciary, typically utilizing local law enforcement to evict a mortgagor and gain possession of the mortgaged property.

[¶ 14] Here, MERS sought to foreclose on the Saunderses’ mortgage by filing a lawsuit, and, like any other plaintiff filing suit within our courts, must prove its standing to sue. Halfway House, 670 A.2d at 1379. Because standing to sue in Maine is prudential, rather than of constitutional dimension, we may “limit access to the courts to those best suited to assert a particular claim.” Lindemann v. Comm’n on Govtl. Ethics & Election Practices, 2008 ME 187, ¶ 8, 961 A.2d 538, 541-42 (quoting Roop v. City of Belfast, 2007 ME 32, ¶ 7, 915 A.2d 966, 968). In the present context, MERS, as the complaining party, must show that it has suffered an injury fairly traceable to an act of the mortgagor and that the injury is likely to be redressed by the judicial relief sought. See Collins v. State, 2000 ME 85, ¶ 6, 750 A.2d 1257, 1260 (citing Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984)); see also Stull, 2000 ME 21, ¶ 11, 745 A.2d at 979.

[¶ 15] Nothing in the trial court record demonstrates that MERS suffered any injury when the Saunderses failed to make payments on their mortgage. When questioned directly at oral argument about what injury MERS had suffered, the Bank responded that MERS did not need to prove injury to foreclose, only that it was a “mortgagee.” As we have already explained, MERS is not a mortgagee pursuant to 14 M.R.S. § 6321 because it has no enforceable right in the debt obligation securing the mortgage. In reality, the Bank was unable to suggest an injury MERS suffered because MERS did not suffer any injury when the Saunderses failed to make payments on their mortgage. See Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc. v. Neb. Dep’t of Banking & Fin., 704 N.W.2d 784, 788 (Neb. 2005) (stating that “MERS has no independent right to collect on any debt because MERS itself has not extended credit, and none of the mortgage debtors owe MERS any money”). The only right MERS has in the Saunderses’ mortgage and note is the right to record the mortgage. The bare right to record a mortgage is unaffected by a mortgagor’s default. The Bank admitted in its statement of material facts that Accredited had never assigned, transferred, or endorsed the note executed by Jon Saunders to MERS, and represented that Accredited had transferred the note directly to the Bank. Without possession of or any interest in the note, MERS lacked standing to institute foreclosure proceedings and could not invoke the jurisdiction of our trial courts.

B. Substitution of the Bank for MERS

[¶ 16] Having determined that MERS lacked standing, our next inquiry is whether the substitution of the Bank for MERS allowed the proceedings to continue. The Saunderses contend that the substitution of the Bank for MERS pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 25(c) was improper because: (1) MERS did not have standing, and a substitution of parties cannot be used to cure a jurisdictional defect; and (2) the Bank, as a non-party, cannot file a motion to substitute parties. The Bank argues that the substitution of parties cured any impropriety in MERS commencing the foreclosure proceedings and that M.R. Civ. P. 17(a) prohibits dismissal until there has been a reasonable time to substitute the real party in interest.[ 5 ] We review the grant or denial of a party’s motion to substitute parties pursuant to both M.R. Civ. P. 17(a) and 25(c) for an abuse of the court’s discretion. See M.R. Civ. P. 25(c) (“In case of any transfer of interest, the action may be continued by or against the original party . . . .” (emphasis added)); Tisdale v. Rawson, 2003 ME 68, ¶ 17, 822 A.2d 1136, 1141 (stating that Rule 17 authorizes “a court to substitute an incorrectly named plaintiff with the real party in interest”); Bates v. Dep’t of Behavioral & Developmental Servs., 2004 ME 154, ¶ 38, 863 A.2d 890, 901 (“Judgmental decisions . . . in areas where the court has choices will be reviewed for sustainable exercise of the court’s discretion.”).

[¶ 17] Both Rule 17 and 25 are concerned with ensuring that the real party in interest is conducting the litigation. Rule 17 is used to correct an action that was filed and then maintained by the wrong party, or was filed in the name of the wrong party. See Tisdale, 2003 ME 68, ¶¶ 15-19, 822 A.2d at 1140-42 (approving the court’s substitution of the road commissioner as the plaintiff for an unincorporated association that lacked capacity to sue); Royal Coachman Color Guard v. Marine Trading & Transp., Inc., 398 A.2d 382, 384 (Me. 1979); 1 Field, McKusick, & Wroth, Maine Civil Practice § 17.1 at 348 (2d ed. 1970) (“The purpose of Rule 17(a) is to provide that the plaintiff in an action shall be the person who by the substantive law possesses the right to be enforced.”). Rule 25, in comparison, is used to substitute a second party for the original party when, in the course of litigation or pendency of an appeal, the original party’s interest ends or is transferred, or the original party becomes incompetent. See Estate of Saliba v. Dunning, 682 A.2d 224, 225 n.1 (Me. 1996) (noting the substitution of an estate, pursuant to Rule 25, for the plaintiff after his death during the pendency of the suit); Gagne v. Cianbro Corp., 431 A.2d 1313, 1315 n.1 (Me. 1981) (noting the Rule 25 substitution of Cianbro for the original defendant on appeal after the originally named defendant transferred its interest to Cianbro).

[¶ 18] The present case involves both situations: a suit brought by the wrong party and a transfer of interest mid-litigation. Although the court granted the Bank’s Rule 25(c) motion for substitution, the proper procedural vehicle for substitution in this case was Rule 17(a). See Bouchard v. Frost, 2004 ME 9, ¶ 8, 840 A.2d 109, 111 (indicating we may affirm a judgment on a ground not relied upon by the trial court). Our cases allow the Rule 17(a) substitution of plaintiffs when the correct party is difficult to determine or an understandable mistake has been made and the substitution “does not alter in any way the factual allegations pertaining to events or participants involved in th[e] suit.” Tisdale, 2003 ME 68, ¶¶ 18-19, 822 A.2d at 1142.

[¶ 19] Accredited, as the party entitled to enforce the rights granted in the mortgage, was the real party in interest at the time MERS instituted foreclosure proceedings. Five months after MERS filed for foreclosure, the Bank became the real party in interest when Accredited transferred the Saunderses’ mortgage and note to it. As we had not previously spoken on MERS’s standing to foreclose a residential mortgage, the prosecution of the case in its name is an understandable mistake to which Rule 17(a) can be applied. See Tisdale, 2003 ME 68, ¶ 19, 822 A.2d at 1142. Further, the transfer of interest did not alter the cause of action or create any prejudice to the Saunderses. MERS sought to foreclose on the Saunderses’ real property after they failed to make payments on the note, and the Bank now seeks to foreclose on the same mortgage for their failure to make payments on the same note. See id. (pointing to the unchanged facts and circumstances after substitution). In defending MERS’s motion for summary judgment, the Saunderses themselves argued that the Bank was the proper party to bring this action.[ 6 ] The substitution of parties in this case was proper, and the court did not abuse its discretion by granting the Bank’s motion for substitution. See Bates, 2004 ME 154, ¶ 38, 863 A.2d at 901.

C. Summary Judgment

[¶ 20] Finally, the Saunderses contend that the court erred in granting summary judgment because of the flawed procedure that led to the court’s entry of foreclosure and sale and because there are genuine issues of material fact and summary judgment was inappropriate.[ 7 ] We agree with both contentions.

[¶ 21] First, the procedure leading up to the summary judgment was fatally flawed. Except in certain circumstances not applicable here, substitution relates back to the date of the original complaint, and the effect of the substitution of parties was to treat the Bank as if it had been the party that commenced the litigation. See M.R. Civ. P. 17(a); 1 Field, McKusick, & Wroth, Maine Civil Practice § 17.1 at 349. As previously noted, the Bank filed a motion to alter or amend the order denying MERS’s motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. Our rules do not allow a motion to alter or amend pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 59(e)—or a motion for further findings of fact pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 52(b)—in the absence of a final judgment. Because the denial of MERS’s motion for summary judgment in the present case was not a final judgment upon which the Bank could file its motion, the court erred by granting the motion. See Dep’t of Human Servs. v. Hart, 639 A.2d 107, 107 (Me. 1994) (stating the general rule that a “denial of a summary judgment motion does not result in a final judgment”). After substitution, the Bank should have filed its own independent motion for summary judgment with a statement of material facts and supporting affidavits. The Saunderses would then have had the opportunity to respond to the new motion and appropriately defend the foreclosure action against the real party in interest.

[¶ 22] Second, the summary judgment record does not support the Bank’s entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. See Chase Home Fin. LLC v. Higgins, 2009 ME 136, ¶ 10, 985 A.2d 508, 510. “We review the grant of a motion for summary judgment de novo,” and view “the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment has been entered to decide whether the parties’ statements of material facts and the referenced record evidence reveal a genuine issue of material fact.” Wells Fargo Home Mortg., Inc. v. Spaulding, 2007 ME 116, ¶ 19, 930 A.2d 1025, 1029; see also Salem Capital Grp., LLC v. Litchfield, 2010 ME 49, ¶ 4, ___ A.2d ___, ___. We consider “only the portions of the record referred to, and the material facts set forth, in the [M.R. Civ. P. 56(h)] statements to determine whether . . . the successful party was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Higgins, 2009 ME 136, ¶ 10, 985 A.2d at 510 (quotation marks omitted). Further, we have said that

[i]n the unique setting of summary judgment, strict adherence to the Rule’s requirements is necessary to ensure that the process is both predictable and just. Even when a hearing is held in a summary judgment motion, the only record that may be considered is the record created by the parties’ submissions.

Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Raggiani, 2009 ME 120, ¶ 7, 985 A.2d 1, 3; see also Camden Nat’l Bank v. Peterson, 2008 ME 85, ¶ 21, 948 A.2d 1251, 1257 (stating that a mortgagee seeking foreclosure must strictly comply with all the steps required by the foreclosure statute).

[¶ 23] In Higgins, we outlined the minimum facts, “supported by evidence of a quality that could be admissible at trial [that] must be included in the mortgage holder’s statement[] of material facts.” 2009 ME 136, ¶ 11, 985 A.2d at 510-11. Pursuant to 14 M.R.S. § 6321, a party attempting to foreclose a mortgage must provide proof of the existence of a mortgage and its claim on the real estate and intelligibly describe the mortgaged premises, including the street address of the mortgaged property, if any, and the book and page number of the recorded mortgage. See also Higgins, 2009 ME 136, ¶ 11, 985 A.2d at 510-11 (explaining the remaining facts that must be submitted in the statements of material facts before foreclosure can proceed by summary judgment).

[¶ 24] The requirements of a street address and the book and page number were added to section 6321 after the commencement of foreclosure, but before the Bank filed its motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 59(e). See P.L. 2009, ch. 402, § 17 (effective June 15, 2009). The prior version of the statute, in effect at the time MERS filed for foreclosure, only required the complaint to “describe the mortgaged premises intelligibly.” 14 M.R.S. § 6321 (2008). As we explained in Higgins, amendments to the foreclosure statute apply to all summary judgment motions filed after their effective date, regardless of the date foreclosure proceedings commenced. 2009 ME 136, ¶ 11 n.2, 985 A.2d at 510.

[¶ 25] In the present case, even if the Bank’s motion to alter or amend were deemed procedurally sound, it would fail under either standard because it failed to include any mention of the location of the mortgaged property in its statement of material facts. While the book and page number—but not the mortgaged property’s address—were included in the affidavit supporting one of MERS’s original statements of material fact, facts not set forth in the parties’ statements of material facts are not part of the summary judgment record and not properly before us on appeal. See M.R. Civ. P. 56(h)(1); Higgins, 2009 ME 136, ¶ 12, 985 A.2d at 511 n.4. Viewed in the light most favorable to the Saunderses, the summary judgment record does not establish what property owned by the Saunderses actually secures the mortgage and the court erred by granting summary judgment to the Bank. See 14 M.R.S. § 6321 (2009); Higgins, 2009 ME 136, ¶ 13, 985 A.2d at 512.

III. CONCLUSION

[¶ 26] In summary, we hold that MERS could not institute this foreclosure action and invoke the jurisdiction of our courts because it lacks an enforceable right in the debt that secures the mortgage. Although MERS lacked standing in the present case, the jurisdictional flaw was corrected when the court appropriately granted the Bank’s motion for substitution. The court erred, however, in granting the Bank’s “renewed” motion for summary judgment, both because the Rules of Civil Procedure do not allow for reconsideration or amendment in the absence of a final judgment, and because the motion, even as amended, did not support a conclusion that the Bank was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

The entry is:

Judgment vacated. Remanded to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

1. The Bank was substituted as a party for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 25(c). Rule 25 provides:

(c) Transfer of Interest. In case of any transfer of interest, the action may be continued by or against the original party, unless the court upon motion directs the person to whom the interest is transferred to be substituted in the action or joined with the original party. Service of the motion shall be made as provided in subdivision (a) of this rule.

M.R. Civ. P. 25(c).

2. M.R. Civ. P. 59(e) provides that “[a] motion to alter or amend the judgment shall be served not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment. A motion for reconsideration of the judgment shall be treated as a motion to alter or amend the judgment.” M.R. Civ. P. 52 provides:

(b) Amendment. The court may, upon motion of a party made not later than 10 days after notice of findings made by the court, amend its findings or make additional findings and, if judgment has been entered, may amend the judgment accordingly. The motion may be made with a motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59. When findings of fact are made in actions tried by the court without a jury, the question of the sufficiency of the evidence to support the findings may thereafter be raised whether or not the party raising the question has made in the trial court an objection to such findings or has made a motion to amend them or a motion for judgment.

3. We do not address the situation where the mortgage and note are truly held by different parties. See, e.g., Averill v. Cone, 129 Me. 9, 11-12, 149 A. 297, 298-99 (1930); Wyman v. Porter, 108 Me. 110, 120, 79 A. 371, 375 (1911); Jordan v. Cheney, 74 Me. 359, 361-62 (1883). When MERS filed its complaint against the Saunderses, Accredited was both the mortgagee and holder of the note, and MERS held only the right to record the mortgage.
4. We note that recent amendments to the foreclosure statute, although not applicable when MERS filed its complaint for foreclosure, mandate that a party seeking foreclosure provide evidence of both the mortgage and the note to proceed with the foreclosure. 14 M.R.S. § 6321 (2009) (“The mortgagee shall certify proof of ownership of the mortgage note and produce evidence of the mortgage note, mortgage and all assignments and endorsements of the mortgage note and mortgage.”).
5. M.R. Civ. P. 17(a) provides in relevant part:

No action shall be dismissed on the ground that it is not prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest until a reasonable time has been allowed after objection for ratification of commencement of the action by, or joinder or substitution of, the real party in interest; and such ratification, joinder, or substitution shall have the same effect as if the action had been commenced in the name of the real party in interest.

6. Rule 17 does not designate which party should file the motion. Because the Bank had standing to prosecute this foreclosure, it had standing to file the motion for substitution of parties. We also note that Rule 25(c) does not require the originally named party to move for substitution. M.R. Civ. P. 25(c) (“In case of any transfer of interest, the action may be continued by or against the original party, unless the court upon motion directs the person to whom the interest is transferred to be substituted . . . .” (emphasis added)).
7. The Saunderses also raise several other arguments regarding the allonge and note that we do not address.

This copy provided by Leagle, Inc.

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Posted in concealment, conflict of interest, conspiracy, deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, MERS, MERSCORP, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., note, reversed court decision, trade secrets1 Comment

Another ARIZONA BEAT DOWN from U.S. BK Judge EILEEN W. HOLLOWELL! In RE: JULIA V. VASQUEZ

Another ARIZONA BEAT DOWN from U.S. BK Judge EILEEN W. HOLLOWELL! In RE: JULIA V. VASQUEZ

DinSFLA here: Notice the address Saxon Mortgage Services, Inc. 1270 Northland Drive., Suite 200 Mendota Heights, MN 55120….THIS IS Lender Processing Services address in which I wrote about in this post below..

LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES (LPS) BUYING UP HOMES AT AUCTIONS? Take a look to see if this address is on your documents!

TO: Saxon Mortgage Services, Inc. (“Saxon”) Natalia Shasko, Corey M. Robertus, Tiffany & Bosco, Mark Bosco, Leonard J. McDonald, Jr.

YOU ARE HEREBY ORDERED to appear before this court on Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 1:30 p.m., U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 38 South Scott Avenue, Courtroom 446, Tucson, AZ 85701 and show cause, if any, why sanctions should not be imposed on you pursuant to Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011, 3001, Local Bankruptcy Rules 4001(e) and 9011-1 and 11 U.S.C. § 105 for the following conduct relating to a proof of claim (“POC”) filed on November 28, 2008, and a Motion for Relief from Stay (“MRS”) filed on January 6, 2009:?

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© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, Lender Processing Services Inc., LPS, saxon mortgage, securitization, servicers, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, trustee2 Comments

DEUTSCHE GETS AN ARIZONA BEAT DOWN! In RE: Tarantola

DEUTSCHE GETS AN ARIZONA BEAT DOWN! In RE: Tarantola

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge EILEEN W. HOLLOWELL knew exactly where this was going and put an immediate stop to it.

Deutsche not only created the Allonge after it filed its MRS and falsely represented that it was affixed to the Original, but it also relied on the LPA authorizing the transfer of the Note when substantially identical powers of attorney have been held to be ineffective in reported decisions involving Deutsche.

Deutsche, AHMSI and counsel should, however, treat this decision as a warning. If, in the future, the court is confronted with filings as deficient and incorrect as filed in this case, the court will issue an order to show cause and consider imposing sanctions including, but not limited to, an award of fees to debtors’ counsel for having to oppose motions filed without proper evidence or worse with improper evidence.


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Posted in chain in title, citi, conflict of interest, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, note, originator, securitization, servicers, trustee1 Comment

Fighting parents’ foreclosure, Diamond Bar student wins rounds against Deutsche Bank

Fighting parents’ foreclosure, Diamond Bar student wins rounds against Deutsche Bank

With no legal training, Zeenat Ali, 23, has been doing battle in court, winning judgments against the bank and two other companies mainly on procedural grounds.

By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
August 5, 2010

As foreclosure fights rage in the nation’s courts, the battle over Shahida and Ather Ali’s house in Diamond Bar looks like a classic mismatch.

In one corner, weighing in at $2.5 trillion in assets, sits Deutsche Bank, which is attempting to evict the Alis from their home of 24 years.

In the other is Zeenat Ali, the couple’s diminutive 23-year-old daughter, who dropped out of medical school and sued Deutsche Bank after it foreclosed on the property. Hoping to reclaim title for her parents, Ali has spent half a year litigating in state and federal courts without the help of a lawyer. And though she has no formal legal training, the soft-voiced, 120-pound bantam is more than holding her own.

Using online legal filings as models, she has staved off the eviction and even turned the tables, winning judgments that enabled her to seek $1.7 billion from Deutsche Bank and two other financial firms involved in the deal, Downey Savings and Central Mortgage Co. All three declined to comment on her suit, filed in March in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona. It accuses them of fraud, botching foreclosure paperwork and violating laws requiring lenders to seek alternatives before they put delinquent borrowers out on the street.

Ali’s victories so far have been mainly procedural. Experts say she stands little chance of winning a large damage award. And her parents are likely to lose their home.

Still, legal veterans have been impressed by the smarts and tenacity of the neophyte with the long dark hair and the focused gaze. Ali’s occasionally wavering voice belies exacting preparation and a formidable resolve.

The banks have learned not to underestimate her. In a challenge to her budding legal skills, they sought in May to move her lawsuit to federal court in Los Angeles, where they thought they’d have an easier go of it. Ali responded with 170 pages of legal filings. After reviewing them, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess sided with Ali and last month sent the case back to Pomona Superior.

It was a victory that Elizabeth Mann, chairwoman of the executive committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.’s litigation section, called “remarkable.”

Continue Reading …LaTimes

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Posted in deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, lawsuit, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, Violations1 Comment

Dual Role in Housing Deals Puts Spotlight on Deutsche

Dual Role in Housing Deals Puts Spotlight on Deutsche

By CARRICK MOLLENKAMP And SERENA NG

Federal probes of the collapsed mortgage-bond boom are shedding light on how Wall Street firms sometimes created securities and sold them to one set of investors, while advising others to bet against them.

One firm that was a major player in mortgage securities, Deutsche Bank AG, illustrates a pattern investigators are looking at. While creating and selling mortgage securities to some of its clients, the big German bank was not only advising other clients to bet the other way, but also sometimes doing so itself.

A Deutsche trader helped create an index that made it easy to bet against housing, and the bank itself then used the index to do just that.

After the collapse of mortgage securities led to a costly bailout of the firm that insured many such securities—American International Group Inc.—some of the federal cash that was sunk into AIG flowed to Deutsche, to cover bearish bets by its hedge-fund clients.

Deutsche’s actions are a vivid example of potential conflicts on Wall Street—the way big financial firms play both sides of the fence with investors. The issue became more extreme during the mortgage bubble and subsequent bust because of the size of the bets on Wall Street and subsequent losses on Main Street.

Regulators now are grappling with whether the business-as-usual conduct at financial firms merely looks bad in hindsight, or whether there were misrepresentations or other legal issues that need to be further investigated and guarded against in the future. “This is a gray area that we need more investigation into,” says Andrew Lo, a finance professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a hedge-fund manager.

Deutsche says that helping investors bet either way—either for or against an asset—is part of doing business for a securities firm.

“Some clients sought more exposure to the housing market, while others sought less,” a spokesman for Deutsche said. “We served clients whatever their investment objective, but only after being satisfied that they had arrived at their view after thorough consideration.”

Continue reading …The Wall Street Journal

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in concealment, conspiracy, deutsche bank, investigation, mbs, mortgage1 Comment

OCC LETTER |TRUSTS NOT EXEMPT FROM STATE LAWS’

OCC LETTER |TRUSTS NOT EXEMPT FROM STATE LAWS’

From: b.daviesmd6605

THIS IS A GREAT LETTER FROM THE SENIOR COUNSEL AT THE OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY REGARDING FEDERAL PREEMPTION BY THE TRUSTEE OF A MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITY TRUST. THEY ARE NOT PREEMPTIVE BASED ON THE OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY AS THEY ARE NOT IN THE FUNCTION OF A LENDER. THIS IS EXCELLENT.

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© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in deutsche bank, OCC, trustee, Trusts1 Comment

FORECLOSURE GAME CHANGER? Mortgage Bond Holders Challenge Loan Servicers

FORECLOSURE GAME CHANGER? Mortgage Bond Holders Challenge Loan Servicers

Mortgage bond holders get legal edge; buybacks seen

Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:44pm EDT

By Al Yoon

NEW YORK July 21 (Reuters) – U.S. mortgage bond investors have quietly banded together to gain the long-sought power needed to challenge loan servicers over losses the investors claim resulted from violations in securities contracts.

A group holding a third of the $1.5 trillion mortgage bond market has topped the key 25 percent threshold for voting rights on 2,300 “private-label” mortgage bonds, said Talcott Franklin, a Dallas-based lawyer who is shepherding the effort.

Reaching that threshold gives holders the means to identify misrepresentations in loans, and possibly force repurchases by banks, Franklin said.

Banks are already grappling with repurchase demands from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the U.S.-backed mortgage finance giants.

The investors, which include some of the largest in the nation, claim they have been unfairly taking losses as the housing market crumbled and defaulted loans hammered their bonds. Requests to servicers that collect and distribute payments — which include big banks — to investigate loans are often referred to clauses that prohibit action by individuals, investors have said.

Since loan servicers, lenders and loan sellers sometimes are affiliated, there are conflicts of interest when asking the companies to ferret out the loans that destined their private mortgage bonds for losses, Franklin said in a July 20 letter to trustees, who act on behalf of bondholders.

“There’s a lot of smoke out there about whether these loans were properly written, and about whether the servicing is appropriate and whether recoveries are maximized” for bondholders, Franklin said in an interview.

He wouldn’t disclose his clients, but said they represent more than $500 billion in securities managed for pension funds, 401(k) plans, endowments, and governments. The securities are private mortgage bonds issued by Wall Street firms that helped trigger the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.

Franklin’s effort, using a clearinghouse model to aggregate positions, is a milestone for investors who have been unable to organize. Some have wanted to fire servicers but couldn’t gather the necessary voting rights.

“Investors have finally reached a mechanism whereby they can act collectively to enforce their contractual rights,” said one portfolio manager involved in the effort, who declined to be named. “The trustees, the people that made representations and warranties to the trust, and the servicers have taken advantage of a very fractured asset management industry to perpetuate a circle of silence around these securities.”

Laurie Goodman, a senior managing director at Amherst Securities Group in New York, said at an industry conference last week, “Reps and warranties are not enforced.”

Increased pressure from bondholders comes as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been collecting billions of dollars from lender repurchases of loans in government-backed securities. With Fannie and Freddie also big buyers of Wall Street mortgage bonds, their regulator this month used its subpoena power to seek documents and see if it could recoup losses for the two companies, which have received tens of billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts.

Some U.S. Federal Home Loan banks and at least one hedge fund are looking to force repurchases or collect for losses.

Investors are eager to scrutinize loans against reps and warranties in ways haven’t been able to before. Where 50 percent voting rights are required for an action, the investors in the clearinghouse have power in more than 900 deals.

Franklin said the investors are hoping for a cooperative effort with servicers and trustees. While he did not disclose recipients of the letter, some of the biggest trustees include Bank of New York, US Bank and Deutsche Bank.

A Bank of New York spokesman declined to say if the firm received the trustee letter. US Bancorp and Deutsche Bank spokesmen did not immediately return calls.

“You have a trustee surrounded by smoke, steadfastly claiming there is no fire, and what the letter gets to is there is fire,” the portfolio manager said. “And we are now directing you … to take these steps to put out the fire and to do so by investigating and putting loans back to the seller.”

Servicers are most likely to spot a breach of a bond’s warranty, Franklin said in the letter.

Violations could be substantial, he said. In an Ambac Assurance Corp review of 695 defaulted subprime loans sold to a mortgage trust by a servicer, nearly 80 percent broke one or more warranties, he said in the letter, citing an Ambac lawsuit against EMC Mortgage Corp.

The investors are also now empowered to scrutinize how servicers decide on either modifying a loan for a troubled borrower, or proceed with foreclosure, Franklin said. Improper foreclosures may be done to save costs of creating a loan modification, he asserted. (Editing by Leslie Adler)

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in bank of america, conflict of interest, deutsche bank, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, mortgage, note, servicers, Trusts, us bank, Wall Street1 Comment

Holding Bankers’ Feet to the Fire | GRETCHEN MORGENSON

Holding Bankers’ Feet to the Fire | GRETCHEN MORGENSON

By GRETCHEN MORGENSON Published: July 16, 2010



KUDOS to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the crippled mortgage finance giants. While some in Washington have continued to coddle the big banks even after they drove our economy into the ditch, this agency seems serious about recovering money for taxpayers by holding bad financial actors to account.

The agency announced last Monday that it had issued 64 subpoenas to a throng of unidentified financial services institutions, seeking documents related to mortgage securities that Fannie and Freddie bought from Wall Street during the boom years.

The subpoenas are designed to tell the agency what many of us want to know: How did Wall Street package and sell private-label mortgage securities to investors, even though the nature and quality of some of the loans crammed inside those tidy little packages were, at best, suspect?

Once that question has been answered, Fannie and Freddie can force the institutions that sold the securities to repurchase the improper loans, allowing taxpayers to recover some of the losses they’ve swallowed on Fannie’s and Freddie’s federal bailout.

Investigating this aspect of the mortgage mess seems a pretty logical step for a regulator. But in the topsy-turvy world of Washington, the housing finance agency’s move is unusually aggressive. Edward J. DeMarco, its acting director, seems to be that rarity — a regulator who not only talks about looking out for the taxpayer, but actually does something about it.

The subpoenas went to companies that act as trustees for mortgage pools or that service the loans in them. The housing finance agency wants to see loan files and transaction documents related to those pools, including mortgage applications and property appraisals. Recipients of the subpoenas have 30 days to produce the requested documents. Additional subpoenas may follow, it said.

The agency had to resort to subpoenas, it said, because when it asked the institutions for the records it got nowhere for many months. “Difficulty in obtaining the loan documents has presented a challenge to the enterprises’ efforts” to ascertain whether losses at the companies are the responsibility of others, its press release said.

Fannie and Freddie bought only the highest-rated pieces of these deals, but they bought buckets of them. During 2006-7, these entities bought $294 billion of so-called private-label securities. Not all of these purchases are under scrutiny, the agency said.

It is clearly turning up the heat on the major players in mortgage servicing and securitization. Among the bigger trustees in the business are Deutsche Bank and the Bank of New York, while loan servicers include Bank of America and many more. None of the banks would confirm if they had received subpoenas.

Continue reading…The New York Times

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Posted in bank of america, bank of new york, deutsche bank, fannie mae, Freddie Mac, mbs, mortgage, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD0 Comments

DAVID J. STERN’S CHERYL SAMONS| SHANNON SMITH Assignment Of Mortgage| NOTARY FRAUD!

DAVID J. STERN’S CHERYL SAMONS| SHANNON SMITH Assignment Of Mortgage| NOTARY FRAUD!

Hat Tip to Attorney Kenneth Eric Trent in Fort Lauderdale for sending this my way.

Below we have two Assignment of Mortgages created by David J. Stern Esq.

Take a look at the notary’s signature and compare it to Ms. Cheryl Samons…also make sure to see the printed names of Shannon Smith.

Here we have another version of Shannon Smith’s signature. Not the same as above.

RELATED STORIES:

Full Deposition of David J. Stern’s Notary | Para Legal Shannon Smith

Take Two: *New* Full Deposition of Law Office of David J. Stern’s Cheryl Samons

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in citimortgage, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deutsche bank, djsp enterprises, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, Law Offices Of David J. Stern P.A., MERS, morgan stanley, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Notary, notary fraud, robo signers, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, trade secrets, wells fargo6 Comments

New Hampshire couple get Permanent Injunction on their mortgage

New Hampshire couple get Permanent Injunction on their mortgage

Many thanks to Foreclosure Fraud Fighter MIKE DILLON!

Couple Fighting Foreclosure Gets Day In Court

Manchester Homeowner Helps Couple Navigate Paperwork

POSTED: 5:41 pm EDT July 13, 2010

SANDWICH, N.H. —
A couple in Sandwich who nearly lost their home to foreclosure is gaining traction in their fight against what they said is fraudulent action by the companies trying to take their home.

In March, a last-minute court order forced a foreclosure auctioneer to drive away on auction day without selling the home of Porter and Angie Moore.

While many foreclosures are a legitimate result of a down economy, lost jobs and homeowners taking on more debt than they can manage, the Moores said that’s not the case for them. They said they may have enough proof that their home shouldn’t be foreclosed to get them their day in court.

The Moores said one problem with the foreclosure proceedings is that it’s unclear who owns their bank note. The confusion has made it difficult to appeal, and they had almost given up before they met Mike Dillon.

Dillon, of Manchester, said he’s no expert in foreclosures, but he’s an angry homeowner in the middle of a 10-year battle to keep a bank from foreclosing on his home. He heard the Moores’ story and gave them some advice on how to fight back.

“I was able to share some information with Porter as far as what was going on with his case, just based on his paperwork, on his assignment of mortgage filed at the Registry of Deeds,” Dillon said.



Continue Reading…WMUR

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in conflict of interest, conspiracy, deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, injunction, lawsuit, MERS, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, Ocwen, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, TRO1 Comment

TILA Violations ‘Originator’| HUBBARD v Ameriquest, Deutsche, AMC Mtg. Svcs. 2008

TILA Violations ‘Originator’| HUBBARD v Ameriquest, Deutsche, AMC Mtg. Svcs. 2008

Conclusion

Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment [103] as to AMC and grants Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment [103] as to Ameriquest and Deutsche Bank, finding both Ameriquest and Deutsche Bank liable for rescission, statutory damages, and costs and attorneys’ fees. Plaintiff is given until October 14, 2008, in which to submit supplemental briefing, consistent with this decision, on the appropriate damage calculations and how to properly unwind the transaction for rescission purposes.

Ameriquest and Deutsche Bank will have until October 25, 2008, in which to respond to 12 In Payton, the court concluded that statutory damages could not be imposed on the assignee because the violation was not apparent on its face, but that an award of attorney’s fees against the assignee was appropriate because the plaintiff had brought a successful action for rescission. 2003 WL 22349118, at *7-*8.

Case 1:05-cv-00389 Document 143 Filed 09/30/2008

Plaintiff’s calculation of damages and briefing on rescission. Finally, the Court denies
Defendants’ motion to strike portions of Plaintiff’s renewed motion for summary judgment [113]
as moot in light of the discussion above.

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© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in deutsche bank, foreclosure, foreclosures, originator, tila, truth in lending act, Violations0 Comments

MUST READ… MISSING LINK (s) | BANK OF NEW YORK v. MICHAEL J. RAFTOGIANIS

MUST READ… MISSING LINK (s) | BANK OF NEW YORK v. MICHAEL J. RAFTOGIANIS

Absolutely, positively a MUST READ!

edit: From a reader who makes an excellent point…this case is very important because it turns not on the assignment of mortgage which the court disregards but rather on the failure of the originator to file the mortgage loan lists with SEC-the defendant did not even raise the point that there was also a failure to file with delaware so that the trust was never given assets———most importantly AHMSI seems to have focused on acquisition of other ex lenders servicer portolios that systematically failed to file these lists-this could enable ahmsi to have more potential latitude to allocate/reallocate or even pocket collected monies -it ties in with the comments later last week re junior senior tranche——if there is no clear certainty as to who gets money from foreclosures due to the record breakdown —-then if the money were to go to tranches that have been written off by their owners —–then the servicer can pocket the proceeds———–the servicers are unregulated–who is looking at their allocations?

the real questions now-are the loans actually in the hands of trusts as a matter of law as a result of failed filings and what happens to proceeds of collection of foreclosure proceeds??

These are highlights…

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY

BANK OF NEW YORK, as Trustee for Home Mortgage Investment Trust CHANCERY DIVISION
2004-4 Mortgage-Backed Notes, ATLANTIC COUNTY Series 2004-4 DOCKET NO: F-7356-09

vs.

MICHAEL J. RAFTOGIANIS,

Decided June 29, 2010

This opinion deals with the plaintiff’s right to proceed with an action to foreclose a mortgage which secures a debt evidenced by a negotiable note. The original lender elected to use the Mortgage Electronic Registration System in recording the mortgage by designating that entity, as its nominee, as the mortgagee. The note and mortgage were subsequently securitized, without notice to the borrower. This action to foreclose the mortgage was filed years later, in the name of an entity created as a part of the securitization process. The defendant/borrower challenged plaintiff’s right to proceed with the foreclosure. That challenge, framed as a dispute over “standing,” has given rise to a variety of factual and legal issues typically raised in this type of litigation.

Ultimately, the questions presented were whether plaintiff could establish its right to enforce the obligation evidenced by the note and whether it must establish that it held that right at the time the complaint was filed. The answers to those questions require an understanding of the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, the securitization of mortgages and how foreclosure litigation is handled. This opinion addresses those disputes. Ultimately, the court concluded that it was appropriate to require plaintiff to establish that it had physical possession of the note as of the date the complaint was filed. Plaintiff was unable to establish that, either by motion or at trial. Accordingly, the complaint has now been dismissed on terms permitting plaintiff to institute a new action to foreclose, on the condition that any new complaint must be accompanied by an appropriate  certification, confirming that plaintiff is then in possession of the note.

In this case, the defendant borrowed $1,380,000 from American Home Mortgage Acceptance Inc. (hereafter American Home Acceptance) in September 2004. This action to foreclose the mortgage was brought in the name of The Bank of New York, as Trustee for American Mortgage Investment Trust 2004-4 Mortgage Backed Notes, Series 2004-4 in February 2009. In the interim, a variety of transactions took place, involving a number of entities. Those transactions will be discussed in some detail below. Preliminarily, this opinion will discuss the UCC, MERS and the securitization process in more general terms.

How does one become a holder of a negotiable note? In addressing that question it is necessary to distinguish between “transfer” and “negotiation.” It is also necessary to distinguish between the handling of notes payable “to order” and notes payable “to bearer.” In this particular case, it is also necessary to recognize that a note initially made payable “to order” can become a bearer instrument, if it is endorsed in blank. See N.J.S.A. 12A:3-109(c), providing that an instrument payable to an identified person may become payable to bearer if it is endorsed in blank. See also N.J.S.A.12A:3-205(b), describing what qualifies as a blank endorsement, and The Law of Modern Payment 6 Systems and Notes 2.02 at 77-78, Miller and Harrell (2002), noting that an instrument bearing the indorsement “Pay to the order of __________” is a bearer instrument. Such a bearer note can be both transferred and negotiated by delivery alone. See Corporacion Venezolana de Fomento v. Vintero Sales, 452 F. Supp. 1108, 1117 (Dist. Ct. 1978).
Under the UCC, the transfer of an instrument requires that it be delivered for the purpose of giving the person receiving the instrument the right to enforce it. A negotiable note can be transferred without being negotiated. That transfer would be effected by the physical delivery of the note. See N.J.S.A. 12A:3-203(a). In that circumstance, the transferee would not be a holder, as that term is used in the UCC. Such a transferee, however, would still have the right to enforce the note. The UCC deals with that circumstance in the following language: Transfer of an instrument, whether or not the transfer is a negotiation, vests in the transferee any right of the transferor to enforce the  instrument, including any right as a holder in due course, but the transferee cannot acquire rights of a holder in due course by a transfer, directly or indirectly, from a holder in due course if the transferee engaged in fraud or illegality affecting the instrument. N.J.S.A. 12A:3-203(b).

The negotiation of the instrument, on the other hand, requires both a transfer of possession and an endorsement by the holder. An instrument which is payable to bearer may be negotiated by transfer alone. Put otherwise, an instrument payable “to order” can be negotiated by delivery with an endorsement, while an instrument payable “to bearer” can be negotiated by delivery alone. N.J.S.A. 12A:3-201. To enforce the note at issue here as a holder pursuant to N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301, plaintiff would have to establish that it received the note, through negotiation, at the appropriate time. That would require that the note be endorsed prior to or at the time of delivery, either in favor of plaintiff or in blank. N.J.S.A. 12A:3-301 also provides that an instrument may be enforced by “a non holder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder.” How does one obtain that status? That may occur, by example, where a creditor of a holder acquires an instrument through execution. See The Law of Modern Payment Systems and Notes 3.01 Miller and Harrell (2002). More frequently, that status will be created by the “transfer” of the instrument, without negotiation. As already noted, transfer occurs when the instrument is delivered for the purpose of giving the person receiving the instrument the right to enforce it. See N.J.S.A. 12A:3-203(a). The statute also provides that the transfer of the instrument, without negotiation, vests in the transferee the transferor’s right to enforce the instrument. See N.J.S.A. 12A:3-203(b). That circumstance can be illustrated by reference to the dispute presented here. The note at issue, as originally drafted, was payable “to the order of” the original lender. The negotiation of the note, in that form, would require endorsement, either to a designated recipient of the note or in blank. The note, however, could be transferred without an endorsement. Assuming the transfer was for the purpose of giving the recipient the ability to enforce the note, the recipient would become a “nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder.” That would require, however, the physical delivery of the note. A number of cases recognize that there can be constructive delivery or possession, through the delivery of the instrument to an agent of the owner. See Midfirst Bank, SSB v. C.W. Haynes & Company, 893 F. Supp. 1304, 1314-1315 (S.C. 1994); Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Linn, 671 F. Supp. 547, 553 8 (N.D. Ill. 1987); and Corporacion Venezolana de Fomento v. Vintero Sales Corp, 452 F. Supp. 1108, 1117 (S.D.N.Y. 1978). Under either of the provisions of N.J.S.A.12A:3-301 which are at issue here, the person seeking to enforce the note must have possession. That is required to be a holder, and to be a nonholder in possession with the rights of a holder. The application of the provisions of the UCC to the dispute presented here will be discussed below.

MERS The Mortgage Electronic Registration System (hereafter, MERS), is a unique entity. Its involvement in the foreclosure process has been the subject of a substantial amount of litigation throughout the country, resulting in the issuance of a number of reported opinions. Recently, MERS was the focus of a decision of the Supreme Court ofKansas, reported as Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 289 Kan. 528, 216 P.3d. 158 (Kan. 2009) which is now cited frequently in this court. That opinion reviews the manner in which MERS functions, the potential problems it can create, and some of the competing policy issues presented. The opinion also cites a variety of published opinionsfrom around the country, addressing those same issues.

In essence, MERS is a private corporation which administers a national electronic registry which tracks the transfer of ownership interests and servicing rights in mortgage loans. Lenders participate as members of the MERS system. When mortgage loans are initially placed, the lenders will retain the underlying notes but can arrange for MERS to be designated as the mortgagees on the mortgages which become a part of the public record. In that context, the lenders are able to transfer their interests to others, without having to record those subsequent transactions in the public record. See Mortgage Elec. Reg. Sys. Inc. v. Nebraska Depart. Of Banking, 270 Neb. 529, 530, 704 N.W.2d 784 (2005), cited in Landmark. The process is apparently cost efficient, from the perspective of the lenders. Among other things, the use of MERS permits lenders to avoid the payment of filing fees that might otherwise be required with the filing of multiple assignments. By the same token, it can make it difficult for mortgagors and others to identify the individual or entity which actually controls the debt at any specific time. See Landmark, 216 P.3d. at 168. On occasion, foreclosure actions are also brought in the name of MERS. When MERS is involved, defendant/borrowers often argue there has been a “separation” of the note and mortgage impacting on the plaintiff’s ability to proceed with the foreclosure. That argument has been raised here and will also be addressed below.

SECURITIZATION

This case also involves the securitization of mortgage loans, a practice which is facilitated by the MERS system. Trial courts in this state regularly deal with the foreclosure of mortgages which have previously been securitized. Generally, one or more lenders will sell substantial numbers of mortgage loans they have issued to a pool or trust.

Interests in that pool or trust are then sold to individual investors, who receive certificates entitling them to share in the funds received as the underlying loans are repaid. That can occur without any notice to the debtors/mortgagors who remain obligated on the original notes. Other entities, generally called “servicers,” are retained to administer the underlying loans. Those servicers or additional “subservicers” will be responsible for collecting and distributing the funds which are due from the debtors/mortgagors. Many are given the authority to institute and prosecute foreclosure proceedings.

The note executed by defendant Raftogianis is clearly a negotiable instrument as that term is defined by the UCC. In the terms of the statute, the note is payable to bearer or to order, and it is payable on demand or at a definite time. While the note contains detailed provisions as to just how payment is to be made, it does not state any other undertaking or instruction by the person promising or ordering payment to do any act in addition to the payment of money. See N.J.S.A. 12A:3-104. The note recites that defendant Raftogianis “promises to pay U.S. $1,380,000.00 … plus interest, to the order of the Lender,” then referring to “the Lender” as American Home Acceptance, beginning with payments due in November 2004. See N.J.S.A. 12A:3-104(a)(1), (2) and (3). This note, as originally drafted, was payable “to order.” At some point, however, the note was indorsed in blank. The original note was produced at oral argument on the motion for summary judgment. It contained the following indorsement:

WITHOUT RECOURSE
BY AMERICAN HOME MORTAGE ACCEPTANCE, INC.
_________________________
RENEE BURY
ASST. SECRETARY

Ms. Bury’s original signature was just above her printed name in that indorsement. Defendant had signed the note on September 30, 2004, payable to the order of American Home Acceptance. In that form the note could be transferred by delivery, but could only be negotiated by indorsement. The indorsement in blank, however, would effectively make the note payable “to bearer,” permitting it to be transferred and negotiated by delivery alone, without any additional indorsement. While it was clear the note had been indorsed prior to the time it was presented to the court, presumably as a part of the securitization process, it was not clear just when that occurred, or when the note had been physically transferred from American Home Acceptance to some other individual or entity.

The assignment from MERS was executed and recorded a short time after the complaint was filed. That document is dated February 18, 2009. It is captioned “Assignment of Mortgage.” It recites that MERS, as nominee for American Home Acceptance, transfers and assigns the mortgage at issue to Bank of New York, as Trustee.

The assignment refers to the mortgage as securing the note at issue. It recites the transfer of the mortgage “together with all rights therein and thereto, all liens created or secured thereby, all obligations therein described, the money due and to become due with interest, and all rights accrued or to accrue under such mortgage.” The assignment was executed by one Linda Green, as Vice President of MERS, as nominee for American Home Acceptance. Ms. Green’s signature was notarized. The assignment was recorded with the Atlantic County Clerk on February 24, 2009. It does appear the assignment was intended to indicate that the debt in question had been transferred to the Bank of New York as Indenture Trustee in February 2009. It is now apparent that is not what occurred.

In any event, the matter proceeded in the vicinage based upon the filing of defendant’s contesting answer. While discovery was permitted, the parties apparently elected to forego any formal discovery. Plaintiff filed its motion for summary judgment in January 2010. The motion was based upon a certification from plaintiff’s counsel providing copies of the note, the mortgage and the February 2009 assignment. While the copy of the note provided with the motion did contain the blank indorsement noted above, there was no information provided as to when the note was indorsed, when the note was physically transferred, or where the note was being held. Defendant filed written opposition, challenging the validity of the MERS assignment. Plaintiff responded with a certification executed by a supervisor for American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., the servicer for the loans.

THE MERS ASSIGNMENT–THE SEPARATION OF THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE

The issue is framed, at least in part, by the description of MERS as “nominee.” The use of that term, as it is used by MERS, was analyzed in some detail in the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas in Landmark, a case relied upon by defendant and cited above. Landmark involved a property which was encumbered by two mortgages. The loan provided by Landmark National Bank was secured by a first mortgage payable to it. There was a second mortgage on the property securing a loan that had been provided by Millennia Mortgage Corp. Millennia was a participant in MERS. The second mortgage securing the debt due Millennia was in the name of MERS “solely as nominee” for Millennia. The Millennia mortgage was subsequently transferred or assigned to Sovereign Bank. That transfer was not reflected in the public record. Landmark filed an action to foreclose its first mortgage naming Millennia, but neither MERS nor Sovereign as defendants. No one responded on behalf of Millennia and the matter proceeded through judgment and sale. Sovereign subsequently filed a motion to set aside the judgment, arguing that MERS was a “contingently necessary party” under Kansas law. The trial court concluded that MERS was not a real party in interest and denied the
motion to set aside the judgment. Both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Kansas affirmed, essentially concluding that MERS did not have any real interest in the underlying debt. Notably, the opinion of the Supreme Court of Kansas recognizes the potential for the separation of interests in a note and related mortgage. In that context, the opinion addressed the use of the term “nominee” in some detail, as follows: The legal status of a nominee, then, depends on the context of the relationship of the nominee to its principal. Various courts have interpreted the relationship of MERS and the lender as an agency relationship. (Citation omitted)
. . .
The relationship that MERS has to Sovereign is more akin to that of a straw man than to a party possessing all the rights given a buyer. A mortgage and a lender have intertwined rights that defy a clear separation of interests, especially when such a purported separation relies on ambiguous contractual language. The law generally understands that a mortgagee is not distinct from a lender: a mortgagee is “[o]ne to whom property is mortgaged: the mortgage creditor, or lender.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1034 (8th ed. 2004). By statute, assignment of the mortgage carries with it the assignment of the debt. K.S.A. 38-2323. Although MERS asserts that, under some situations the mortgage document purports to give it the same rights as the lender, the document consistently refers only to rights of the lender, including rights to receive notice of litigation to collect payments, and to enforce the debt obligation.
The document consistently limits MERS to acting “solely” as the nominee of lender. 289 Kan. 538-540.

While the Landmark court recognized that issues might be raised as to an alleged separation of a note and mortgage, it was not required to address those issues directly. Its analysis of the role MERS plays as nominee, however, supports the conclusion reached by this court with respect to that issue. MERS, as nominee, does not have any real interest in the underlying debt, or the mortgage which secured that debt. It acts simply as an agent or “straw man” for the lender. It is clear to this court that the provisions of the mortgage describing the mortgagee as MERS “as nominee” were not intended to deprive American Home Acceptance of its right to security under the mortgage or to separate the note and mortgage.

It is a fundamental maxim of equity that “[e]quity looks to substance rather than form.” See Applestein v. United Board & Carton Corp., 60 N.J. Super. 333, 348 (Ch.Div. 1960) aff’d o.b., 33 N.J. 72 (1960). The courts have applied that principle in dealing with mortgages in a variety of contexts. So it is that an assignment of a bond or note evidencing a secured obligation will operate as an assignment of the mortgage “in equity.” See 29 New Jersey Practice, Law of Mortgages 11.2, at 748 (Myron C. Weinstein) (2d ed. 2001) (citing Stevenson v. Black, 1 N.J. Eq. 338, 343 (Ch. 1831) and other cases). Conversely, commentators have noted the propriety of treating the assignment of a mortgage, without a specific reference to the underlying obligation, as effectively transferring both interests. But it does not follow that an assignment in terms of the “mortgage” without express reference to the secured obligation is insufficient to transfer the obligation and is therefore a nullity, as some courts have held. As Mr.Tiffany long ago pointed out, The question is properly one of the construction of the language used, and in arriving at the proper construction, evidence of the sense in which that language is ordinarily used is of primary importance. The expression “assignment of  mortgage” is almost universally used, not only by the general public, but also by the Legislature, the courts, and the legal profession, to describe the transfer of the totality of the mortgagee’s rights, that is, his right to the debt as well as to the lien securing it, and to hold, as these cases apparently do, that when one in terms assigns a mortgage, he intends, not an effective transfer of his lien alone, which is an absolute nullity, not only ignores this ordinary use of the term “mortgage”, but is also in direct contravention of the well recognized rule that an instrument shall if possible be construed so as to give it a legal operation. See 29 New Jersey Practice, Law of Mortgages 11.2 at 754(Myron C. Weinstein)(2d ed.2001) (citing 5 Tiffany on Real Property 428-29). It is apparent there was no real intention to separate the note and mortgage at the time those documents were created. American Home Acceptance remained the owner of both the note and mortgage through the date the loan was securitized. It did have the right to transfer its interests when the loan was securitized.

It was entirely appropriate to argue that the February 2009 assignment from MERS, as nominee for American Home Acceptance, to the Bank of New York, as Trustee, was ineffective. From the court’s perspective, that assignment was, at best, a distraction. The actual transfers of interests in the note and mortgage occurred in different ways. There was no reason, however, that plaintiff could not acquire the right to enforce the note and mortgage through those other  transactions. In that context, defendant’s attack on plaintiff’s right to proceed based on the alleged separation of the note and mortgage is rejected.

CONCLUSION

Defendant’s attack on plaintiff’s ability to proceed with the foreclosure based on the alleged “separation” of the note an mortgage was rejected. Plaintiff, however, failed to establish that it was entitled to enforce the note as of the time the complaint was filed.

In this case, there are no compelling reasons to permit plaintiff to proceed in this action. Accordingly, the complaint has been dismissed. That dismissal is without prejudice to plaintiff’s right to institute a new action to foreclose at any time, provided that any new complaint must be accompanied by an appropriate certification, executed by one with personal knowledge of the circumstances, confirming that plaintiff is in possession of the original note as of the date any new action is filed. That certification must indicate the physical location of the note and the name of the individual or entity in possession.

An appropriate order has been entered

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Posted in bank of new york, bogus, breach of contract, case, conspiracy, deutsche bank, fannie mae, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, MERS, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud, note, robo signer, securitization, Trusts2 Comments

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