Lawyers Peter Ticktin, left, and Josh Bleil, of The Ticktin Law Group, are shown with depositions from 150 robosigners, alleging that the court documents reveal an industry-wide banking scheme to defraud homeowners, in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Robo-signers: Mortgage experience not necessary
Banks hired hair stylists, teens to process foreclosure documents, workers’ testimony shows
Michelle Conlin, AP Real Estate Writer, On Tuesday October 12, 2010, 9:21 pm EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — In an effort to rush through thousands of home foreclosures since 2007, financial institutions and their mortgage servicing departments hired hair stylists, Walmart floor workers and people who had worked on assembly lines and installed them in “foreclosure expert” jobs with no formal training, a Florida lawyer says.
In depositions released Tuesday, many of those workers testified that they barely knew what a mortgage was. Some couldn’t define the word “affidavit.” Others didn’t know what a complaint was, or even what was meant by personal property. Most troubling, several said they knew they were lying when they signed the foreclosure affidavits and that they agreed with the defense lawyers’ accusations about document fraud.
“The mortgage servicers hired people who would never question authority,” said Peter Ticktin, a Deerfield Beach, Fla., lawyer who is defending 3,000 homeowners in foreclosure cases. As part of his work, Ticktin gathered 150 depositions from bank employees who say they signed foreclosure affidavits without reviewing the documents or ever laying eyes on them — earning them the name “robo-signers.”
The deposed employees worked for the mortgage service divisions of banks such as Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, as well as for mortgage servicers like Litton Loan Servicing, a division of Goldman Sachs.
Ticktin said he would make the testimony available to state and federal agencies that are investigating financial institutions for allegations of possible mortgage fraud. This comes on the eve of an expected announcement Wednesday from 40 state attorneys general that they will launch a collective probe into the mortgage industry.
“This was an industrywide scheme designed to defraud homeowners,” Ticktin said.
The depositions paint a surreal picture of foreclosure experts who didn’t understand even the most elementary aspects of the mortgage or foreclosure process — even though they were entrusted as the records custodians of homeowners’ loans. In one deposition taken in Houston, a foreclosure supervisor with Litton Loan couldn’t define basic terms like promissory note, mortgagee, lien, receiver, jurisdiction, circuit court, plaintiff’s assignor or defendant. She testified that she didn’t know why a spouse might claim interest in a property, what the required conditions were for a bank to foreclose or who the holder of the mortgage note was. “I don’t know the ins and outs of the loan, I just sign documents,” she said at one point.
Until now, only a handful of depositions from robo-signers have come to light. But the sheer volume of the new depositions will make it more difficult for financial institutions to argue that robo-signing was an aberrant practice in a handful of rogue back offices.
Attorney General McCollum I applaud you for STANDING UP for Florida!
Assistant AG’s June M. Clarkson and Theresa B. Edwards what an amazing job! Thank you.
Investigate the law suit Shapiro and Stern had against each other…You might just find missing pieces there.
The facts are the facts…crystal clear. This glass is not half full but spilling out the rim of the glass!
Attorney General Bill McCollum today filed a Motion for Rehearing on last week’s ruling by Circuit Judge Jack Cox that the Attorney General could not investigate the Shapiro & Fishman law firm for the firm’s alleged involvement in presenting fabricated documents to the courts in foreclosure actions to obtain final judgments against homeowners. The Attorney General is currently investigating four law firms, The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, P.A.; Shapiro & Fishman, LLP, the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A., and Florida Default Law Group, PL for allegedly engaging in these practices.
“They have no personal knowledge of the issue and they are supposed to. That is what these judges rely on when they issue judgments against homeowners,” said Matt Englett, KEL Law Firm.
(I-Newswire) October 2, 2010 – CENTRAL FLORIDA — Thousands of Floridians may soon be rescued from foreclosure. Last week KEL Attorneys filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking Chief Justice Canady for a stay on foreclosure cases being handled by law firms currently under investigation for document fraud.
The State Attorney General launched a formal investigation against Shapiro & Fishman, Marshall Watson and David Stern last month. Lenders hired the three big law firms, which handle 80 percent of all foreclosures in Florida, now accused of fraudulently signing documents to speed up the foreclosure process.
“They have no personal knowledge of the issue and they are supposed to. That is what these judges rely on when they issue judgments against homeowners,” said Matt Englett, KEL Law Firm.
Attorney Matt Englett has testimony from one of the people hired to just sign documentation. He describes a conference room with thousands of documents. He testified he would sign one affidavit after another, taking no more than a minute on each one.
“Time is money. The longer it takes to get the property back and sell the property, the more money they lose on that loan,” Englett said.
Englett hopes the motion will stop wrongful foreclosure it its tracks. He estimates that tens of thousands of homes may have already been wrongfully foreclosed upon, and about 80-percent of pending foreclosure actions contains fraudulent documents.
If Englett is successful, homeowners who have already lost their homes could collect thousands from their lender. And for the hundreds of others in Central Florida in the middle of foreclosure, it would buy time to save their home.
About KEL Attorneys:
Our law firm has had the honor to represent clients all over the country. We are also licensed in federal courts throughout the country and we are able to represent your case in state or federal court. In either venue, rest assured that our law firm will pursue your case aggressively and in the most cost effective manner possible.
We are not just your ordinary law firm, we operate as a full-service law firm that provides legal services nationwide and have a strong presence, with a law firm in Orlando and a law firm in Tampa. Due to size, legal expertise and handling client matters for over ten years, we can handle any legal issue or situation you may have.
Company Contact Information KEL Attorneys
111 N Magnolia Ave
Phone : 4075131900
Chase Home Finance, LLC
Lender Processing Services
Long Beach Mortgage
Washington Mutual Bank
Action Date: September 30, 2010
Location: New York, NY
On September 29, 2010, financial giant JP Morgan Chase announced it was suspending 56,000 foreclosures because its documents may have been “submitted without proper review.” To assist JPMorgan Chase, Fraud Digest suggests that it dismiss those actions where the Affidavits or Mortgage Assignments were signed by the following robo-signers: Beth Cottrell, Whitney Cook, Christina Trowbridge and Stacy Spohn from the Chase Home Finance office in Franklin County, OH; Margaret Dalton and Barbara Hindman from the Jacksonville, FL office of JPMorgan Chase; and any of the Lender Processing Services robo-signers from the Dakota County, MN office including Christina Allen, Liquenda Allotey, Christine Anderson, Alfonzo Greene, Laura Hescott, Bethany Hood, Cecelia Knox, Topako Love, Jodi Sobotta, Eric Tate, Amy Weis and Rick Wilken. In particular, JP Morgan Chase should look at those cases where the bank has supposedly assigned mortgages to WaMu, WMALT, Long Beach Mortgage Company and NovaStar trusts years after the closing dates of these trusts. The number of questionable or fraudulent documents is likely to be much closer to 560,000 than to 56,000, and that will only be a good beginning.
It was a very sad day for Floridians yesterday when the Florida Supreme Court issued a statement that it does not have authority to intercede while a fraud investigation is pending. Although we may not agree with the decision, we must respect procedures that must be followed.
Florida, do not quit what you are doing because there are many states that we must continue to focus on. Judges need to put themselves in the homeowners situation and understand we cannot make these fraudulent documents up. These documents are sworn statements, under perjury of law and notarized. As officers of the court they must be held accountable. No ifs, ands, buts or suppose here. These are not errors.
Rest assured that The Florida Bar still has many pending investigations with these foreclosure firms and they have authority overseeing the misconduct of their members.
I am your voice, America. I share your fears, read your concerns and do try my best to reach out to you.
The Florida Constitution and court rules did not give the Chief Justice authority to intercede in pending cases involving attorney misconduct, or to investigate allegations of fraud or misconduct in foreclosure cases. The fraud cases must first beadjudicated in trial courts.
Congressman Grayson has asked the Florida Bar to take action.
Florida Default Law Group has been added as the fourth law firm under investigation along the Law offices of David J. Stern, Shapiro & Fishman and Law Office of Marshall Watson.
THIS IS HUGE! Coming in… Florida might halt all Foreclosures…While pending investigation of MILLS!
Do what is right and protect these families. This involves children that do not understand what is going on. I lost my home to this fraud and they do not have to go through my stressful experience. You set new rules and these foreclosure mills continued to ignore you. What is it going to take?
I revere the law, the judicial system, and the legal profession and will at all times in my professional
and private lives uphold the dignity and esteem of each.
I will further my profession’s devotion to public service and to the public good.
I will strictly adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of my profession’s code of ethics, to the extent
that the law permits and will at all times be guided by a fundamental sense of honor, integrity, and fair
play. I will not knowingly misstate, distort, or improperly exaggerate any fact or opinion and will not
improperly permit my silence or inaction to mislead anyone.
I will conduct myself to assure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and
resolution of every controversy.
I will abstain from all rude, disruptive, disrespectful, and abusive behavior and will at all times act
with dignity, decency, and courtesy.
I will respect the time and commitments of others.
I will be diligent and punctual in communicating with others and in fulfilling commitments. I will exercise independent judgment and will not be governed by a client’s ill will or deceit.
My word is my bond.
Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar
The general principles which should ever control the lawyer in the practice of the legal profession
are clearly set forth in the following oath of admission to the Bar, which the lawyer is sworn on
admission to obey and for the willful violation to which disbarment may be had.
“I do solemnly swear:
“I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida;
“I will maintain the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers;
“I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor
any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land;
“I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are
consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false
statement of fact or law;
“I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients, and will accept no
compensation in connection with their business except from them or with their knowledge and approval;
“I will abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation
of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged;
“I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or
oppressed, or delay anyone’s cause for lucre or malice. So help me God.”
This should send a powerful message to each and every Foreclosure Mill out there! You are NEXT!
September 24, 2010
Michael J. Williams
President and Chief Executive Officer
3900 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20016
Dear Mr. Williams,
We are disturbed by the increasing reports of predatory ‘foreclosure mills’ in Florida working for Fannie Mae servicers. Foreclosure mills are law firms representing lenders that specialize in speeding up the foreclosure process, often without regard to process, substance, or legal propriety. According to the New York Times, four of these mills are both among the busiest of the firms and are under investigation by the Attorney General of Florida for fraud. The firms have been accused of fabricating or backdating documents, as well as lying to conceal the true owner of a note.
Several of the busiest of these mills show up as members of Fannie Mae’s Retained Attorney Network, a set of legal contractors on whom Fannie relies to represent its interests as a note-holder. The network also serves as a pool of legal talent that represents Fannie in its pre-filing mediation program, a program designed to facilitate communication between borrowers and servicers prior to foreclosure. In other words, Fannie Mae seems to specifically delegate its foreclosure avoidance obligations out to lawyers who specialize in kicking people out of their homes.
The legal pressure to foreclose at all costs is leading to a situation where servicers are foreclosing on properties on which they do not even own the note. This practice is blessed by a legal system overwhelmed with foreclosure cases and unable to sort out murky legal details, and a set of law firms who mass produce filings to move foreclosures as quickly as possible. At the very least, we would encourage you to remove foreclosure mills under investigation for document fraud from the Fannie Mae’s Retained Attorney Network. We also believe that Fannie should have guidelines allowing servicers to proceed on a foreclosure only when its legal entitlement to foreclose is clearly documented. In addition, these charges raise a number of questions for us about the foreclosure process as it pertains to Fannie Mae’s holdings.
Why is Fannie Mae using lawyers that are accused of regularly engaging in fraud to kick people out of their homes? Given that Fannie Mae is at this point a government entity, and it is the policy of the government that foreclosures are a costly situation best avoided if there are any lower cost alternatives, what steps is Fannie Mae taking to avoid the use of foreclosure mills? What additional steps is Fannie Mae going to take to ensure that foreclosures are done only when necessary and only in accordance with recognized law? How do your servicer guidelines take into account the incentives for fraud in the fee structure of foreclosure attorneys and others engage in the foreclosure process? What mechanisms do you employ to monitor legal outsourcing?
We look forward to your responses and to understanding more about these disturbing dynamics in future hearings.
By The Palm Beach Post
Updated: 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010
Posted: 7:33 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010
Last month, Palm Beach County Senior Judge Roger Colton opened his afternoon foreclosure session by telling homeowners that he’d heard all their stories before, and he would give them a maximum of five months before letting lenders take their homes.
“I know all about the Chinese drywall problems. I know all about sickness,” Judge Colton said. “I know all about divorce. I know all about anything else as to why we find ourselves in this position today.”
In the first case, Judge Colton signed a final summary judgment giving Everhome Mortgage Co. the right to foreclose on a Lake Worth couple’s home despite their attorney’s objections that Everhome had failed to prove that it owns the note. Foreclosure defense lawyers cite the case as an egregious example of Florida’s so-called “rocket docket,” the process of expediting foreclosure cases through the courts by siding with lenders.
That was not the intent of state legislators this year when they appropriated $9.6 million to reduce the foreclosure backlog. Though the state has set a goal of reducing the more than 500,000 cases by 62 percent within a year, that goal should be met by handling each case based on its merit and not by watching the clock. That’s particularly important given the fraud perpetrated by lenders – many of which knowingly issued loans to buyers who couldn’t afford them – and their attorneys.
Tampa-based Florida Default Law Group has been withdrawing legal affidavits in its GMAC Mortgage foreclosure cases, acknowledging that information it gave to courts may have been inaccurate. The affidavits supposedly attest to the validity of documents submitted to verify that a lender has the right to foreclose. Florida law requires that lenders prove ownership of the note underlying the mortgage.
In the case before Judge Colton, attorney Loretta Bangor questioned the validity of affidavits submitted by Everhome’s attorney, a lawyer with Shapiro & Fishman, one of three firms under investigation by the Florida attorney general for “unfair and deceptive actions” in foreclosure cases. Judge Colton, one of two retired judges hired to handle foreclosures under the new state program, did not ask to see the documents. Nor did he question Shapiro & Fishman about the validity of the documents.
Ally Said to Tell Freddie Mac of Faulty Foreclosures Weeks Ago
By Lorraine Woellert and Dakin Campbell – Sep 24, 2010 12:01 AM ET
Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit told Freddie Mac that foreclosures by the auto and home lender might have been faulty weeks before halting its own evictions, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Ally informed Freddie Mac on Aug. 25 that affidavits for court proceedings might not be valid, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. By Sept. 1, Freddie Mac had notified its network of lawyers and stopped related foreclosures and evictions, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter hasn’t been formally disclosed. GMAC told agents to halt evictions in 23 states on Sept. 17.
Fannie Mae, the largest government-backed mortgage firm, said it notified lawyers of flaws in GMAC documentation after it was alerted. Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith declined to say when GMAC contacted the company, and Gina Proia, the spokeswoman for Detroit-based Ally, said she couldn’t comment.
“We are obviously dismayed by reports of document problems,” Freddie Mac spokesman Brad German said in an interview. “The practices described in these reports are clearly not in compliance with Freddie Mac guidelines and servicer directives.” German wouldn’t say how many of the McLean, Virginia-based firm’s holdings were affected by the freeze.
Fannie Mae said in a statement that its servicers must adhere to all legal requirements. “It is their responsibility to put processes in place that ensure they are fulfilling this requirement, and they are accountable for rectifying any issues that may arise in this regard.”
At least two officials who signed documents indicating that they had reviewed the accuracy of thousands of foreclosure proceedings have testified in sworn depositions that they didn’t actually perform at least some of the reviews.
Do you think your foreclosure documents may have been processed by Stephan or Cottrell? If you have a copy of a foreclosure document signed by Stephan or Cottrell, please post it here. Or send us information on your foreclosure using the form below.
I know if I purchased a stroller for my kid and later knew it these strollers are all defective …I hope the government would kick in and do a nationwide RECALL!!
GMAC stops some evictions, foreclosed home sales
By JANNA HERRON (AP) –
NEW YORK — GMAC Mortgage LLC said Monday it halted certain evictions and sales of foreclosed homes as it corrects “a potential issue” in its foreclosure process.
The action highlights what is becoming a larger problem for lenders and servicers that may have illegally driven homeowners out of their houses. The issue is threatening to clog up an already overloaded foreclosure process.
Lenders took back more homes in August than in any month since the start of the U.S. mortgage crisis, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said last week. Banks have been stepping up repossessions to clear out their backlog of bad loans.
GMAC, which is owned by Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc., did not identify the specific internal issue that prompted the moratorium in its statement, but it has been linked to lawsuits this year surrounding the alleged falsification of a key foreclosure document.
The Florida attorney general is investigating three law firms for allegedly providing fraudulent affidavits that identify who holds the original mortgage note in foreclosure cases. In Florida and in other states, this document allows lenders to bypass a costly trial and proceed with a foreclosure.
Two of the three firms being investigated — the Law Office of Marshall C. Watson and the Law Offices of David J. Stern PA — have represented GMAC in foreclosure proceedings. And the person who signed many of these allegedly false affidavits was an employee of GMAC.
In a deposition taken in December, GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephan said he signed 10,000 affidavits or similar documents a month without personally verifying who the mortgage holder was. That means many foreclosures could have taken place based on false documentation. Stephan could not be located for comment.
“That’s hundreds of thousands of cases,” said Ice Legal PA attorney Christopher Immel who took the deposition. “And there are other people at other places who sign these kinds of documents as well.”
GMAC did not address how many homeowners would be affected by its suspension of evictions and foreclosure sales. It expects the issues to be resolved within a few weeks or, at latest, by year-end. The company didn’t respond to questions beyond its statement.
The issue of documenting who holds the mortgage is not unique to GMAC. Judges and lawyers nationwide are taking a second look at foreclosure affidavits. Many mortgages have been sliced up and sold to many investors as securities and that makes it harder to determine who is the ultimate mortgage holder.
In August, a judge in Duval County, Fla., ruled that JPMorgan Chase could not foreclose upon two homeowners because Fannie Mae carried the mortgage on its books and JPMorgan Chase only serviced the loan. JPMorgan Chase had identified itself as the owner of the loan. Similar cases across the country are pending.
The law firm that represented JPMorgan Chase in that case — Shapiro & Fishman — is the third law firm being investigated by the Florida state attorney.
Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.
The Metropolitan, PH 2-5
403 S. Sapodilla Avenue
West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
Mr. Ed Albrigo
Senior Vice President
8200 Jones Branch Drive MS 200
McLean, Virginia 22102
Mr. R.K. Arnold, President and CEO
1595 Spring Hill Road, Suite 310
Vienna, Virginia 22182
Senior Vice President
3900 Wisconsin Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20016
September 6, 2010
Re: Abuses and Forgeries By MERS Officers in Mortgage Foreclosures
Dear Mr. Albrigo, Mr. Arnold and Ms. Sullivan:
I am writing to you in your capacity as members of the Board of Directors of MERS.
This letter concerns certain widespread abuses by individuals using MERS titles. After extensive research regarding Mortgage Assignments prepared in Alpharetta, Georgia, purportedly signed by MERS certifying officers, it is apparent that:
1. there were widespread forgeries by individuals who signed over a million Mortgage Assignments as MERS officers with many different individuals signing the same four names;
2. the individuals signing these names also used many different MERS titles,with Linda Green, Korell Harp and Tywanna Thomas claiming to be authorized by many different lenders to convey mortgages as MERS
3. the information on the Mortgage Assignments is false particularly regarding the dates on which mortgages were conveyed. In several hundred thousand cases, Assignments to Residential Mortgage-Backed Securitized
Trusts state that the Trusts acquired the mortgages AFTER foreclosure litigation was filed by the Trusts. This has resulted in a tremendous backlog of cases as the wrong parties often file the foreclosure actions.
These Mortgage Assignments are being used extensively in foreclosure actions in Florida and other states. Because of the apparent authority of MERS, these assignments are most often assumed to be correct by judges. Because so many foreclosure litigants are unrepresented by counsel, these Mortgage Assignments
are going unchallenged even though they are obvious forgeries.
Please carefully examine the attached mortgage assignments signed by Linda Green, Korell Harp, Tywanna Thomas and Jessica Ohde as MERS officers as these examples plainly show many variations of the Green, Harp, Ohde, and Thomas signatures.
Many of the MERS job titles that have been attributed to Linda Green are listed in Schedule A attached hereto. Many of the MERS job titles that have been attributed to Korell Harp are listed in Schedule B. Many of the MERS job titles that have been attributed to Tywanna Thomas are listed in Schedule C.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. There were nearly 11,000 mortgage foreclosures granted in Palm Beach County, Florida in the last six weeks. Many of these foreclosures were granted based on these Mortgage Assignments signed by individuals using MERS titles. It is apparent that these signatures and MERS titles are misleading judges and homeowners. The Palm Beach County experience is occurring throughout the country.
The Florida Attorney General is investigating fraudulent documents used to “facilitate” foreclosures.
Most often, in Florida, these fraudulent Assignments are used by the same law firms that are hired by Lender Processing Services, in its role as a foreclosure management company. In Florida, the firms that most often use these documents to foreclose are the Law Offices of David J. Stern, Florida Default Law Group, Shapiro & Fishman, and the Law Offices of Marshall Watson.
All four of these law firms have also been named by the Florida Attorney General as being under investigation for using fraudulent documents in foreclosures.
I am prepared to brief you or your designees fully on my research.
Thank you for your attention to this most serious matter.
For those who may not know both David J. Stern and Cheryl Samons both were former employees of Shapiro & Fishman prior to Mr. Stern and Mrs. Samons departing from Shapiro & Fishman…“thats all“. <grin>————————–>
PROTECTIVE ORDER? Lender Processing Services? Specialized Loan Servicing? American Home Mortgage Servicing? DEPOS? SUBPOENAS?
DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE!
Florida Rules of Civil Procedure
1.420 Dismissal of Actions
(a) Voluntary Dismissal.
(1) By Parties. Except in actions in which property has been seized or is in the custody of the court, an action may be dismissed by plaintiff without order of court
(B) by filing a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have appeared in the action. Unless otherwise stated in the notice or stipulation, the dismissal is without prejudice, except that a notice of dismissal operates as an adjudication on the merits when served by a plaintiff who has once dismissed in any court an action based on or including the same claim.
In 2006 MERS released a mortgage belonging to the Velez’s. MERS Vice President name is Merhl Gibson and the notary is Jane Eyler. Both from Maryland. It appears that the same individual signed the entire document. See exhibit below.
Now these same individuals are signing this document below as Vice President and Notary for CitiMortgage. But take a close look and compare the signatures to the release above.Both of these are about a few weeks apart. Merhl’s stamp is from New York.
“On 8/30, I had a Summary Judgment Foreclosure hearing on Palm Beach County’s “Rocket Docket”. The judge spoke for 14 minutes to the crowd, of mostly pro se defendants, about how they should just agree to the summary judgment and the plaintiffs, (whose attorneys (Shapiro & Fishman had a dedicated courtroom and to whom he referred to as “my attorneys”) would be gracious (Ha!) enough to allow them to stay in their homes for 120 days if needed (even though the statute says he only has to give them 30). When it came to hearing arguments which were fully briefed and provided to the court (pursuant to the instructions of the Divisions head judge) he only allowed 30-60 seconds for argument, failed to read any of the papers, failed to review the plaintiff’s foreclosure package,flatly ignored the Affidavit filed in Opposition, ignored my plea for a trial, signed the judgment and dismissed me. I never was permitted to even read the proposed judgment or to examine the “newly discovered” allonge which Shapiro’s counsel said I had no right to see. Thank God I had a court reporter!”
Well it just happens to be that Lori is an Attorney and got a transcript of what went down…
Pew family trusts which I am a beneficiary and/or remainderman have maintained
investments in various banks, mutual funds, and other entities that maintain
interests in various shares, mortgage backed securities and/or debt issuances and I
have been a shareholder in many mortgage companies including Fannie Mae,
Bear Stearns, JPMorganChase, Washington Mutual, MGIC, Ocwen and Radian,
many of which are members, owners and shareholders in Mortgage Electronic
Registration Systems, Inc. [MERS].
Lender Processing Services
Shapiro & Fishman
Action Date: August 26, 2010 Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
On August 11, 2010, the Florida foreclosure mill law firm of Shapiro & Fishman (S&F) filed a “corrective” mortgage assignment (copy available in the “Pleadings” section herein). According to S & F, this “corrective” assignment was necessary because previous assignments filed by S & F were signed by Linda Green “who at that time did not have signing authority on behalf of MERS.” The day before, on August 10, 2010, the Florida Attorney General’s office issued a press release identifying S & F as one of the Florida law firms under investigation for unfair & deceptive trade practices involving improper documentation used to speed foreclosure proceedings. When Linda Green signed the prior assignments as a MERS officer, she was actually employed by Lender Processing Services in its Alpharetta, Georgia offices. Lender Processing Services decides which law firms get assigned foreclosure cases by the banks in hundreds of thousands of cases. Lender Processing Services hires the law firms and provides these firms with the documents they might need – using its own employees to sign the documents – without authority from MERS. The “corrective” assignment was signed by Kathy Smith and Joseph Kaminski who were identified as Assistant Secretaries of MERS, as nominee for American Brokers Conduit ( a company in bankruptcy since 2007). Smith & Kaminski are not actually employed by MERS or by American Brokers Conduit – so S&H may need another “corrective assignment.” The original assignment was dated October 17, 2008 – over two weeks AFTER the Lis Pendens was filed, but the “corrective” assignment attempts to solve the obvious lack of standing by a provision that states that the actual delivery of the documents took place on an unspecified date “and that such delivery of documents had occurred before default and before the filing to the lis pendens…” Courts and homeowners can expect a few more corrections from Shapiro & Fishman.
Today an article was released about the the foreclosure mills moving forward to quash the subpoenas served upon them by the Florida Attorney General. In this article there was a tad bit of heresay going on…
One of the firms is represented by WPB attorney Gerry Richman:
The subpoena has had a chilling effect on clients and has led to defense lawyers citing the investigation in motions to have the Shapiro firm disqualified from cases. One judge, according to the petition, has said in open court he will deny all summary judgment motions filed by the law firms named by the attorney general based solely on the existence of the investigation.
In an interview, attorney Gerald Richman, who is representing the Shapiro firm, said he did not know who the judge is. He denied the Shapiro firm falsified any documents.
“One of our concerns is the broad brush,” he said. “We are not in the category with David Stern, we are not in the category with any other law firm. Hopefully we will not lose clients. We’re doing whatever we can to fight back.”
Ok, well how can anyone make such a statement without clarifying who the judge is? This is clear speculation!
The Attorney General’s office is fighting back stating the facts…
McCollum spokeswoman Sandi Copes responded, “our office is responsible for protecting consumers year-round, and this investigation has been ongoing for some time.”
Last is information requesting from David J. Stern regarding the subpoena from the AG…
“This request would include entities that have nothing to do with the Law Firm’s legal practice, e.g., if David J. Stern owns a piece of real estate in an entity or he has trusts set up for his family,” according to the petition filed by Stern’s attorney, Jeffrey Tew of Miami. “This request should be narrowed to include entities that have a connection with his legal practice.”
Law firm Shapiro & Fishman has accused Attorney General Bill McCollum of pre-election grandstanding and “abuse of power” in connection with McCollum’s recent announcement that his office is conducting a foreclosure fraud investigation into that firm and two others.
The allegations are in response to a coordinated investigation announced by McCollum during an Aug. 10 press conference. McCollum said his office is looking at whether the three South Florida firms engaged in unfair and deceptive actions in their handling of foreclosure cases.
The other firms were the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson in Fort Lauderdale and the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. in Plantation.
The firm’s response came Friday in a motion to quash a subpoena in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
“As a result of this economic crisis and political climate, politicians have joined in the blame game in an effort to demonstrate their concern for ‘consumers,’” the firm’s petition states.
The petition said the attorney general’s news release mentioned issues that are not even covered in the state’s subpoena, and that the subpoena is overly broad – requesting documents apparently unrelated to the investigation.
After months of wrangling with CitiMortgage, Dennis and Joyce Brown got fed up and hired an attorney to fight CitiMortgage’s foreclosure on their Lauderdale Lakes home. The Browns claim they are victims of fabricated documents used to foreclose after CitiMortgage failed to credit them for mortgage payments.
“They ran my blood pressure up so bad,” said Dennis Brown, who hired Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kenneth Eric Trent to fight the foreclosure.
CitiMortgage and its lawyers, David Stern Law Offices, voluntarily withdrew the case against the Browns in Broward County Circuit Court on June 16. But the Browns can’t rest easy. Recently, they’ve received newforeclosure letters from another lawyer representing CitiMortgage.
The Browns’ story is just one example of foreclosures resulting from allegedly fraudulent mortgage assignments and other tactics that “eliminate due process for the homeowner,” Trent said.
He also is suing Stern and his Plantation law firm in federal court in a separate foreclosure case with similar allegations.
In that lawsuit, on behalf of Oakland Park homeowner Ignacio Damian Figueroa, Trent contends that Stern and a mortgage registration firmgenerated fraudulent mortgage documents that are intentionally ambiguous to cloud the real ownership of the Figueroa’s mortgage note.
The foreclosure practices of Stern and two other law firms are under investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office. The attorney general recently requested records going back to Jan. 1, 2008, from Stern as well as The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, P.A., and Shapiro & Fishman, LLP.
Thousands of Florida homeowners may have lost their homes as a result of improper actions by the firms under investigation. In announcing the probe, Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican who is a running for governor, said the law firms may have presented fabricated documents in court to speed the foreclosure process and obtain judgments against homeowners.
Jeffrey Tew, a Miami attorney who represents Stern’s firm, said while the attorney general may have received complaints, there “will not be evidence of fraud.” Due to the large volume of foreclosures, there may have been clerical mistakes, he said. “In past two to three years, the Stern law firm has processed probably 100,000 foreclosures.”
But he disputes that Stern’s law firm fabricated any documents. “I haven’t seen any example where a bank didn’t have a mortgage in default,” Tew said.
MERS is at the heart of the matter for Trent and other lawyers trying to stop what they view as illegal foreclosures in the nation.
The mortgage registry was created by lenders in the early 1990s to track home loans, including those repackaged as securities and sold to investors. When such loans were in foreclosure, MERS – not the original lender — was often the entity foreclosing. Some lawyers have successfully fought foreclosures by contending that MERS doesn’t own the note, or the borrower’s obligation to repay.
University of Utah law professor Christopher Peterson said MERS mortgage processing system goes against long-standing principles of property law in assigning rights to a note or mortgage. He said the “owner” of a mortgage can’t be the same as the “agent” representing the homeowner, for example.
Yet MERS records “false documents” with names of people who are not executives of the registry system, but often paralegals and clerks of law firms, he said. “It’s an extremely controversial and arguably fraudlent practice,” Peterson said.
Merscorp spokeswoman Karmela Lejarde declined to comment on the criticism of MERS or Trent’s lawsuit, citing company policy not to comment on pending lititgation.
Tew, who represents Stern’s Law Offices, called Trent’s lawsuit “fiction.” He points to Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal that ruled in July against a homeowner who tried to fight foreclosure on the basis that MERS didn’t own the note or mortgage.
For the Browns’, foreclosure troubles began with not getting credit for their payments fromCitiMortgage, their mortgage servicer.
The couple says they couldn’t clear it up with the lender. “They were claiming I was behind in payment, but I was paying every month,” said Brown, a carpenter who works for the Broward County School System and whose three children and four grandchildren also live in his Lauderdale Lakes home.
They stopped paying on their mortgage in late 2007 and sought legal help.
Another issue in Browns’ case isthe signature on the assignment of Brown’s mortgage, giving rights to CitiMortgage, Trent said. The signature is by Cheryl Samons, who is identified as “assistant secretary of Merscorp.” In reality, Samons is an employee of Stern’s law office.
Tew confirmed Samons’ employment by Stern, but said “it’s very common for companies to appoint a registered agent. That process is absolutely legal and normal.”
But Trent contends that mortgage assignments need to be made on personal knowledge, not hearsay, to be admissible in court.
The Browns could be facing another foreclosure action, but Trent said he is confident he can fight it again. “They don’t have the basis to foreclose,” he said.
CitiMortgage spokesman Mark Rodgers said privacy restrictions prevent the financial institution from discussing a customer’s foreclosure action. But Rodgers said procedures may resume in cases “where, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to arrive at a satisfactory resolution acceptable to all the parties involved.”
Tew said foreclosure defense lawyers are portraying homeowners who have defaulted on their mortgages as helpless victims. “Everyone is sympathetic, including us, for the homeowner who can’t pay his mortgage. But it’s not fair to paint the banks and law firms that represent them as wearing the black hats.”
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