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NY foreclosure firm Steven J. Baum: Sorry for mocking homeless

NY foreclosure firm Steven J. Baum: Sorry for mocking homeless

“I again want to sincerely apologize for the inappropriate costumes worn by some of our employees at our Halloween Party in 2010. It was in extremely poor taste and I take full responsibility,” Steven J. Baum said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I know people were extremely offended and people have every right to be upset with me and my firm.”

[MSNBC]

I wonder what the theme was this year? I’m sure we’ll find out. But this apology is all PR related and he had to do it as he is being investigated.

 

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What the Costumes Reveal At Steven J. Baum’s Demonic Halloween Party – Joe Nocera

What the Costumes Reveal At Steven J. Baum’s Demonic Halloween Party – Joe Nocera

Now this has to be an all time low and I warn you it will not be taken lightly by either Judge Schack who slammed his cases or by Attorney Susan Chana Lask who successfully settled the Class Action against his firm.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman now has a bit more ammo to work with.

Tell Steven J. Baum what u think 716-204-2400!

Lets see who’ll have the last laugh.

NYTimes-

On Friday, the law firm of Steven J. Baum threw a Halloween party. The firm, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

[NEW YORK TIMES]

image: New York Times

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NY Judge Slams Steven Baum’s Elpiniki Bechakas MERS Assignment “These actions undoubtedly raise the appearance of impropriety”

NY Judge Slams Steven Baum’s Elpiniki Bechakas MERS Assignment “These actions undoubtedly raise the appearance of impropriety”

Decided on October 28, 2011

Supreme Court, Queens County

 The Bank of New York Mellon F/K/A THE BANK OF NEW YORK, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE CERTIFICATE HOLDERS CWABS, INC., ASSETBACKED CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-IMI 400 Countrywide Way Simi Valley, CA 93065, Plaintiff,

against

Nancy Martinez, ET.AL., Defendant.

21097/09

Attorney for Plaintiff:
Megan B. Szeliga, Esq.
Steven J. Baum, P.C.
220 Northpointe Parkway – Suite G
Amherst, New York 14228

Attorney for Defendant:
Steven Beispel, Esq.
20 W. 86 Street
New York, New York 10024

Phyllis Orlikoff Flug, J.

[*2]The following papers numbered 1 to 5 read on this motion

Notice of Motion1 – 2

Affirmation in Opposition3

Reply Affirmation (2)4 – 5

Defendant, Nancy Martinez, moves for summary judgment dismissing plaintiff’s complaint as asserted against her.

This is an action to foreclose a mortgage on the real property located at 37-54 98th Street, in the County of Queens, City and State of New York.

On a motion for summary judgment, the proponent “must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to eliminate an material issues of fact from the case . . .” (Winegrad v. New York Univ. Med. Center, 64 NY2d 851, 852 [1985]). Once the proponent has made this showing, the burden of proof shifts to the party opposing the motion to produce evidentiary proof in admissible form to establish that material issues of fact exist which requires a jury trial (Alvarez v. Prospect Hospital, 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]).

Defendant contends she is entitled to judgment on the ground that plaintiff lacked standing at the time the action was commenced. Defendant, however, has waived this defense as she did not raise it in her answer or in a pre-answer motion to dismiss (See HSBC Bank, USA v. Dammond, 59 AD3d 679, 680 [2d Dept. 2009]). Notably, defendant has also failed to move to amend her answer to assert this as a defense (See Aurora Loan Services, LLC v. Thomas, 70 AD3d 986, 987 [2d Dept. 2010]).

Defendant also contends she is entitled to summary judgment and dismissal of the action due to a conflict of interest on behalf of plaintiff’s attorneys. An attorney employed by Steven J. Baum, the law firm representing plaintiff, Elpiniki Bechakas, executed an assignment in favor of plaintiff, on behalf of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS”), a defendant in this action.

These actions undoubtedly raise the appearance of impropriety. Indeed, these practices were the subject of the October 6, 2011 settlement agreement between Steven J. Baum and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Nevertheless, defendant has failed to establish that these actions breached a specific duty to plaintiff and require a dismissal of the action as a matter of law (See, e.g., Swift v. Ki Young Choe, 242 AD2d 188, 192 [1st Dept. 1988]). [*3]

Accordingly, plaintiff is hereby ordered to submit waivers of any potential conflict of interest from plaintiff, Bank of New York, and MERS no later than December 2, 2011. In addition, plaintiff shall refrain from relying on any documents that raise the appearance of impropriety, including the aforementioned assignment, in its prosecution of this action.

Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is denied, with leave to renewal, upon plaintiff’s failure to comply with this order or upon the completion of discovery and on the presentment of proper papers.

October 28, 2011 ____________________

J.S.C.

 

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In RE: FORECLOSURE FRAUD SETTLEMENT “MERS, Pillar Processing & Steven J. Baum, P.C.”

In RE: FORECLOSURE FRAUD SETTLEMENT “MERS, Pillar Processing & Steven J. Baum, P.C.”

Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems
Pillar Processing, LLC
Steven J. Baum, P.C.

Action Date: October 7, 2011
Location: New York, NY

On October 6, 2011, a settlement agreement was signed regarding the practices of one of the largest foreclosure mills in the country, Steven J. Baum, P.C., a law firm operating from Amherst, New York. The settlement was obtained by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY. The investigation was conducted by the Civil Frauds Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York which investigated under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA).

Under the settlement, the Baum Firm is required to pay $2 million and make significant reforms, but is still allowed to say (paragraph 4): “This Agreement does not constitute a finding by any Court or Agency that Baum has engaged in any unlawful practice or wrongdoing of any kind.”

Most significantly, Baum employees – including the very prolific robo-signing associate, Elpiniki Bechakas, may no longer sign mortgage assignments as officers of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”). (Bechakas is not specifically named in the Agreement, but has been singled out by NY judges, including the Honorable (and very savvy) Arthur Schack of Brooklyn, as a Baum attorney with very questionable practices.)

The relief provided in the Settlement Agreement is very much prospective relief, and in that regard, is very comprehensive.

For those pending cases, however, the relief in paragraph 15(a) may seem grossly inadequate:

“Baum shall provide the following notification:

a. In any pending foreclosure action where an application for a judgment of foreclosure has not been submitted to a court, if Baum has filed an assignment of mortgage as a corporate officer of MERS, Baum shall disclose that fact to the court in the application for the judgment of foreclosure, or earlier. Such disclosure shall not be required if the Baum firm does not file a proposed judgment of foreclosure (e.g. because another law firm has been substituted as counsel for the matter prior to the filing of a proposed judgment of foreclosure, because the action is dismissed, etc.)”

All that the banks need to do under this settlement in pending cases is to sub in another law firm that may use the Baum assignments to foreclose, without even making any further disclosure to the courts such as “the signers are really employees of the Baum Law Firm who previously represented the banks in this matter.”

While it is true that most defense attorneys will no doubt raise this point, it is also true that most homeowners in foreclosure proceed pro se and are likely to be completely unaware of this Settlement Agreement, and the actual employer of Elpiniki Bechakas and other Baum signers.

Then there is the matter of the tens of thousands of homeowners who have lost their homes in cases where Baum employees signed mortgage assignments as officers of MERS. Most often, they assigned mortgages to mortgage-backed trusts so that the trusts could foreclose, even though such transfers did not take place on the dates and in the manner set forth on the Baum assignments. These Baum Assignments appear throughout the New York courts, but often in the Courts of other states as well.

Two million seems to be the magic number. This is also the amount paid by the Law Offices of Marshall Watson in Florida whose associates engaged in similar practices of signing as MERS officers, assigning mortgages after foreclosure actions were initiated, etc.

Further relief may be forthcoming, from both criminal prosecutions, the NY Bar, and most certainly from private class action and RICO lawsuits brought by private litigants.

Investors in mortgage-backed securities must ask for reports from the Trustees of how much they have paid for these Baum Assignments in the last five years, how much they have lost and how much more they will lose when foreclosures are successfully defended because the loan documents relied on by the trustees were “Baum-made.”

This is a first-of-its-kind settlement with one significant party in the foreclosure fraud morass.

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Feds went easy on NY’s largest foreclosure mill, $2M wrist slap for Baum: critics

Feds went easy on NY’s largest foreclosure mill, $2M wrist slap for Baum: critics

Now you know why people Occupy Wall Street, They are pissed and sick and tired of all the fraud. Bloomberg warned that US unemployment will lead to RIOTS, I think he needs to broaden this statement.

NY POST-

The largest foreclosure mill in New York, under investigation for years by federal authorities for allegedly filing misleading paperwork, affidavits and mortgage documents, yesterday agreed to pay a $2 million fine to settle a probe by Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Steven J. Baum PC, which has filed tens of thousands of foreclosure actions across the state over the past several years, promised to change the way it did business and admitted to “occasionally” making “inadvertent errors.”

The Buffalo-based firm, which was used by every major bank in the country, did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement deal.

.
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Steven J. Baum Law Firm to Pay $2 Million Over Foreclosure Practices

Steven J. Baum Law Firm to Pay $2 Million Over Foreclosure Practices

It’s become a new world in America. No matter how hard one tries, all those families who were thrown out of their homes…how many individuals can settle and get away with this?

Money is the root of all evil.

Bloomberg-

Steven J. Baum’s foreclosure law firm, one of the largest in New York state, will pay the U.S. $2 million and change its practices to resolve a probe into its mortgage-related legal filings.

The agreement resolves an investigation into whether the Baum firm filed misleading pleadings, affidavits and mortgage assignments in courts, according to a statement today by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan.

[BLOOMBERG]

 

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COLE v. STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C. | NY CLASS ACTION “Unfair and Unconscionable Debt Collection and Deceptive Practices”

COLE v. STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C. | NY CLASS ACTION “Unfair and Unconscionable Debt Collection and Deceptive Practices”

IMOGENE COLE and GEORGIA BROWN,


-against-

STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.,

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

I. Plaintiffs Imogene Cole and Georgia Brown bring this action on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly situated New York residents challenging the unfair and unconscionable debt collection and deceptive practices by defendant Steven J. Baum, P.C.(“Baum”) in residential foreclosure actions by grossly neglecting or willfully failing to file the specialized Request for Judicial Intervention required by the Uniform Rules for the New York State Trial Courts (“Uniform Rules”) § 202.12-a(b), 22 New York Code of Rules and Regulations § 202.12-a(b), which, in tum, deprives Plaintiffs and class members of their right to the statutorily mandated settlement conferences under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) Rule 3408 in foreclosure actions (the “Class”).

[…]

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Baum’s practices come under intense scrutiny

Baum’s practices come under intense scrutiny

BuffaloNews

An investigation by the state attorney general into Steven J. Baum PC is shining a new spotlight on the practices of the prominent Amherst foreclosure law firm, at a time when judges and lawyers downstate are accusing it of filing shoddy court documents.

Once little known outside Western New York, Baum has gained notoriety statewide and nationally, as the firm’s work in the foreclosure crisis placed it in the midst of the controversy over improper legal paperwork and so-called “robo-signing.”

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FORECLOSURE DIARIES: Litton Loan Mod attempt #2 Steven J Baum Foreclosure Mill

FORECLOSURE DIARIES: Litton Loan Mod attempt #2 Steven J Baum Foreclosure Mill

via

Segment from an actual call, recorded on October 20, 2008, between a homeowner and a lawyer, Heather Johnson, of the notorious foreclosure mill, Steven J Baum, representing Litton Loan Servicing. Mr.Christopher Wyatt, part of Litton’s “Executive Resolution Team,” begged out of the call when told it would be filmed an recorded. Loan modifications were offered on a take-it-or leave it basis; however requests for follow-up documentation were ignored. This same lawyer then signed off on a foreclosure, nearly ten months later, initiated by the trustee, Wells Fargo, on behalf of the securitized pool holding the homeowner’s mortgage. The “foreclosure mill” law firm, in this case, Steven J Baum, was specifically cited in a New York Times article about NY State Supreme Court Judge Arthur M Shack on August 31st, 2009, and has engendered criticism for its faulty filing practices. The firm has done extensive work for Litton Loan and its host of robo-signers, including Marti Noriega (who also does double duty for MERS). Hedge Fund Tailwind Capital has a hefty investment in this foreclosure mill. Guess they figured that throwing families out of their homes had a financial upside. Now, the Steven J Baum firm believes that any attempt to make them produce evidence is, simply, a “fishing expedition.” Why? Because actually producing evidence would be enough to get them and their clients thrown in the proverbial shitcan (judicial or otherwise). This call will become part of Pacific Street’s upcoming feature documentary, FORECLOSURE DIARIES.

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New York Attorney General Subpoena’s Steven J. Baum Law Firm, Pillar Processing, LLC

New York Attorney General Subpoena’s Steven J. Baum Law Firm, Pillar Processing, LLC

From Gretchen Morgenson

The New York investigation appears to center on two of the state’s foreclosure industry giants: the Steven J. Baum firm, headquartered in Amherst, N.Y., and Pillar Processing, a default servicing firm set up by Mr. Baum that was spun off in 2007. Representing JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and other large banks, the Baum firm has handled an estimated 40 percent of foreclosure cases in the state. Pillar Processing provides extensive services to the firm.

[Samples Below]


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OH Appeals Court Affirms Trial Court Decision For Not Complying With HUD Regulations WELLS FARGO v. PHILLABAUM

OH Appeals Court Affirms Trial Court Decision For Not Complying With HUD Regulations WELLS FARGO v. PHILLABAUM

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF OHIO
FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT
HIGHLAND COUNTY

WELLS FARGO,
vs.
DANA PHILLABAUM

Excerpt:

{¶ 10} The acceleration clause of the note that the appellee executed states, inter alia, as follows:

“If [b]orrower defaults by failing to pay in full any monthly payment, then
[l]ender may, except as limited by regulations of the Secretary in the case of
payment defaults, require immediate payment in full of the principal balance
remaining due and all accrued interest.” (Emphasis added.)2

{¶ 11} Both parties agree that the pertinent federal regulation at issue is set out in Section
203.604(b), Title 24, C.F.R., and requires a “face-to-face” interview between a mortgagor and
mortgagee before three full monthly installments on the mortgage are unpaid. Here, there is no
dispute that the Bank did not conduct such a meeting. Instead, the Bank argues that it falls
under an exception to that requirement because the “mortgaged property is not within 200 miles
of the mortgagee, its servicer, or a branch office of either[.]” (Emphasis added.) Id at (c).
However, appellee’s affidavit in support of his cross-motion for summary judgment states that
“Wells Fargo has at least one branch office within 200 miles of my home” and goes on to explain
that he visited that office on at least one prior occasion. This is sufficient for appellee to carry
his initial Civ.R. 56(C) burden and, thus, the burden shifted to the Bank to provide rebuttal
materials.

continue below…

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BREAKING NEWS | NY Appeals Court Allows Damages For Legal Malpractice Against Steven J. Baum, P.C.

BREAKING NEWS | NY Appeals Court Allows Damages For Legal Malpractice Against Steven J. Baum, P.C.

Decided on February 22, 2011

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

APPELLATE DIVISION : SECOND JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

A. GAIL PRUDENTI, P.J.
REINALDO E. RIVERA
PLUMMER E. LOTT
ROBERT J. MILLER, JJ.
2010-02591
(Index No. 16919/08)

[*1]U.S. Bank National Association, etc., plaintiff,

v

Alan C. Stein, etc., et al., defendants third-party plaintiffs- respondents, et al., defendants; Steven J. Baum, P.C., third-party defendant-appellant, et al., third-party defendant.

Miller, Rosado & Algios, LLP, Mineola, N.Y. (Neil A. Miller and
Christopher Rosado of counsel), for third-party defendant-appellant.
Babchik & Young LLP, White Plains, N.Y. (Marisa C.
Woolridge of counsel), for defendants third-
party plaintiffs-respondents.

DECISION & ORDER

In an action, inter alia, to recover damages for legal malpractice, the third-party defendant Steven J. Baum, P.C., appeals, as limited by its brief, from so much of an order of the Supreme Court, Nassau County (LaMarca, J.), entered December 10, 2009, as denied that branch of its motion, made jointly with the third-party defendant Steven J. Baum, which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the third-party complaint insofar as asserted against it.

ORDERED that the order is affirmed insofar as appealed from, with costs.

The plaintiff, represented by Steven J. Baum, P.C., and Steven J. Baum, commenced an action against, among others, Alan C. Stein, Gastwirth, Mirsky & Stein, LLP, and Law Office of Alan C. Stein, P.C. (hereinafter collectively the Stein defendants), to recover damages for, inter alia, legal malpractice in connection with the recording of a certain mortgage. The Stein defendants, who had previously represented the plaintiff’s predecessor in interest, commenced a third-party action against Steven J. Baum, P.C., and Steven J. Baum for contribution and/or indemnification. Subsequently, the third-party defendants moved pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the third-party complaint. The Supreme Court, among other things, denied that branch of the motion which was to dismiss the third-party complaint insofar as asserted against Steven J. Baum, P.C. We affirm the order insofar as appealed from.

“Upon a motion to dismiss [for failure to state a cause of action], the sole criterion is whether the subject pleading states a cause of action, and if, from the four corners of the complaint, factual allegations are discerned which, taken together, manifest any cause of action cognizable at law, then the motion will fail” (Maurillo v Park Slope U-Haul, 194 AD2d 142, 145; see Guggenheimer v Ginzburg, 43 NY2d 268, 275). “[T]he court must afford the pleading a liberal construction, accept all facts as alleged in the pleading to be true, accord the plaintiff the benefit of every possible inference, and determine only [*2]whether the facts as alleged fit within any cognizable legal theory” (Breytman v Olinville Realty, LLC, 54 AD3d 703, 703-704; see Morales v AMS Mtge. Servs., Inc., 69 AD3d 691, 692).

The Supreme Court properly determined that the Stein defendants stated a cause of action against the third-party defendant Steven J. Baum, P.C., by asserting, among other things, that Steven J. Baum, P.C., failed to timely correct the legal errors allegedly committed by the Stein defendants in their representation of the plaintiff’s predecessor in interest, despite having sufficient time and an opportunity to do. The third-party complaint alleged sufficient facts which, if true, would establish that Steven J. Baum, P.C., may be liable to the Stein defendants for causing or contributing to the plaintiff’s alleged damages (see Schauer v Joyce, 54 NY2d 1, 6; see also Frederick v Meighan, 75 AD3d 528, 532).
PRUDENTI, P.J., RIVERA, LOTT and MILLER, JJ., concur.

ENTER:

Matthew G. Kiernan

Clerk of the Court

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Judge Schack Rips Into “Debt Collector” Steven J. Baum P.C., Cancels Notice of Pendency WELLS FARGO v. ZELOUF

Judge Schack Rips Into “Debt Collector” Steven J. Baum P.C., Cancels Notice of Pendency WELLS FARGO v. ZELOUF

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Plaintiff,

against

David Zelouf, et. al., Defendants.

17524/09

Plaintiff

Michael Joblonski, Esq.

Steven J. Baum, PC

Buffalo, NY

Defendant

The defendant did not answer.

Arthur M. Schack, J.

In this foreclosure action, plaintiff, WELLS FARGO, N.A. (WELLS FARGO), moved for summary judgment and an order of reference and related relief for the premises located at 14 Stockholm Street, Brooklyn, New York (Block 3253, Lot 13, County of Kings). The Court received a notice of withdrawal of the instant motion, dated February 18, 2010, from plaintiff’s counsel. There was no valid explanation or reason given by plaintiff’s counsel for his request to withdraw the motion.

Further, plaintiff’s counsel states in his notice of withdrawal, “[t]he Plaintiff will not be discontinuing the above referenced action.” Moreover, in his cover letter to myself, plaintiff’s counsel states that “[t]he law firm of Steven J. Baum, P.C. and the attorneys whom it employs are debt collectors who are attempting to collect a debt. Any information obtained by them will be used for that purpose.” Since this statement was in a cover letter to me and does not appear to be preprinted on the letterhead of the Baum firm, the Court would like to know what debt it [*2]personally owes to the Baum firm or its clients? This statement borders upon frivolous conduct, in violation of 22 NYCRR § 130-1.1. Was it made to cause annoyance or alarm to the Court? Was it made to waste judicial resources? Rather than answer the above rhetorical questions, counsel for plaintiff is directed never to place such a foolish statement in a cover letter to this Court. If this occurs again, the firm of Steven J. Baum, P.C. is on notice that this Court will have the firm and the attorney who wrote this nonsensical statement appear to explain why the firm and the individual attorney should not be sanctioned for frivolous conduct.

With respect to the request of plaintiff’s counsel to withdraw the instant motion for summary judgment and an order of reference, the Court grants the request to withdraw the motion. However, since plaintiff is not discontinuing the instant foreclosure action, the Court, to prevent the waste of judicial resources, dismisses the instant foreclosure action without prejudice. If plaintiff’s counsel chooses to renew the instant motion and restore the instant case, plaintiff’s counsel must comply with the new Rule, promulgated by the Chief Administrative Judge on October 20, 2010, requiring an affirmation by plaintiff’s counsel that he communicated on a specific date with a named representative of plaintiff WELLS FARGO who informed him that he or she:

(a) has personally reviewed plaintiff’s documents and records relating

to this case for factual accuracy; and (b) confirmed the factual

accuracy of the allegations set forth in the Complaint and any

supporting affirmations filed with the Court as well as the accuracy

of the notarizations contained in the supporting documents filed

therewith.

Further, plaintiff’s counsel, based upon his or her communication with plaintiff’s representative or representatives, “as well as upon my own inspection and reasonable inquiry under the circumstances, . . . affirm that, to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief, the Summons, Complaint and other papers filed or submitted to the Court in this matter contain no false statements of fact or law.”

Counsel is reminded that the new standard Court affirmation form states that “I am aware of my obligations under New York Rules of Professional Conduct (22 NYCRR Part 1200) and 22 NYCRR Part 130.” These Parts deal with disciplinary standards and sanctions for frivolous conduct.

Discussion

Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) § 1321 allows the Court in a foreclosure action, upon the default of the defendant or defendant’s admission of mortgage payment arrears, to appoint a referee “to compute the amount due to the plaintiff.” In the instant action, plaintiff WELLS FARGO’s application for an order of reference is a preliminary step to obtaining a default judgment of foreclosure and sale against defendant ZELOUF. (Home Sav. of Am., F.A. v Gkanios, 230 AD2d 770 [2d Dept 1996]). Plaintiff’s request to withdraw its motion is granted. However, to allow this action to continue without seeking the ultimate purpose of a foreclosure action, to obtain a judgment of foreclosure and sale, makes a mockery of and wastes judicial resources. Continuing the instant action without moving for a judgment of foreclosure and sale is the judicial equivalent of a “timeout,” and granting a “timeout” to plaintiff WELLS FARGO is a waste of judicial resources. Therefore, the instant action is dismissed without [*3]prejudice.

Further, the dismissal of the instant foreclosure action requires the cancellation of the notice of pendency. CPLR § 6501 provides that the filing of a notice of pendency against a property is to give constructive notice to any purchaser of real property or encumbrancer against real property of an action that “would affect the title to, or the possession, use or enjoyment of real property, except in a summary proceeding brought to recover the possession of real property.” The Court of Appeals, in 5308 Realty Corp. v O & Y Equity Corp. (64 NY2d 313, 319 [1984]), commented that “[t]he purpose of the doctrine was to assure that a court retained its ability to effect justice by preserving its power over the property, regardless of whether a purchaser had any notice of the pending suit,” and, at 320, that “the statutory scheme permits a party to effectively retard the alienability of real property without any prior judicial review.”

CPLR § 6514 (a) provides for the mandatory cancellation of a notice of pendency by:

The Court,upon motion of any person aggrieved and upon such

notice as it may require, shall direct any county clerk to cancel

a notice of pendency, if service of a summons has not been completed

within the time limited by section 6512; or if the action has been

settled, discontinued or abated; or if the time to appeal from a final

judgment against the plaintiff has expired; or if enforcement of a

final judgment against the plaintiff has not been stayed pursuant

to section 551. [emphasis added]

The plain meaning of the word “abated,” as used in CPLR § 6514 (a) is the ending of an action. “Abatement” is defined as “the act of eliminating or nullifying.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 3 [7th ed 1999]). “An action which has been abated is dead, and any further enforcement of the cause of action requires the bringing of a new action, provided that a cause of action remains (2A Carmody-Wait 2d § 11.1).” (Nastasi v Nastasi, 26 AD3d 32, 40 [2d Dept 2005]). Further, Nastasi at 36, held that the “[c]ancellation of a notice of pendency can be granted in the exercise of the inherent power of the court where its filing fails to comply with CPLR § 6501 (see 5303 Realty Corp. v O & Y Equity Corp., supra at 320-321; Rose v Montt Assets, 250 AD2d 451, 451-452 [1d Dept 1998]; Siegel, NY Prac § 336 [4th ed]).” Thus, the dismissal of the instant complaint must result in the mandatory cancellation of plaintiff WELLS FARGO’s notice of pendency against the subject property “in the exercise of the inherent power of the court.”

Last, if plaintiff WELLS FARGO’s counsel moves to restore the instant action and motion, plaintiff’s counsel must comply with the new filing requirement to submit, under penalties of perjury, an affirmation that he or she has taken reasonable steps, including inquiring of plaintiff WELLS FARGO and reviewing all papers, to verify the accuracy of the submitted documents in support of the instant foreclosure action. According to the October 20, 2010 Office of Court Administration press release about the new filing requirement, Chief Judge Lippman said:

We cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and

be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially

when that process involves basic human needs — such as a family home — [*4]

during this period of economic crisis. This new filing requirement will

play a vital role in ensuring that the documents judges rely on will be

thoroughly examined, accurate, and error-free before any judge is asked

to take the drastic step of foreclosure.

(See Gretchen Morgenson and Andrew Martin, Big Legal Clash on Foreclosure is Taking Shape, New York Times, Oct. 21, 2010; Andrew Keshner, New Court Rules Says Attorneys Must Verify Foreclosure Papers, NYLJ, Oct. 21, 2010).

Conclusion

Accordingly, it is

ORDERED, that the request of plaintiff, WELLS FARGO BANK, N. A., to withdraw its motion for an order of reference, for the premises located at 14 Stockholm Street, Brooklyn, New York (Block 3253, Lot 13, County of Kings), is granted; and it is further

ORDERED, that the instant action, Index Number 17524/09, is dismissed without prejudice; and it is further

ORDERED, that the notice of pendency in the instant action, filed with the Kings County Clerk on July 14, 2009, by plaintiff, WELLS FARGO BANK, N. A., to foreclose a mortgage for real property located at 14 Stockholm Street, Brooklyn, New York (Block 3253, Lot 13, County of Kings), is cancelled; and it is further

ORDERED, that if plaintiff, WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., moves to restore the instant foreclosure action and motion for an order of reference for real property located at 14 Stockholm Street, Brooklyn, New York (Block 3253, Lot 13, County of Kings, counsel for plaintiff must comply with the new Court filing requirement, announced by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman on October 20, 2010, and ordered by Chief Administrative Judge Ann T. Pfau on October 20, 2010, by submitting an affirmation, using the new standard Court form, pursuant to CPLR Rule 2106 and under the penalties of perjury, that counsel for plaintiff, WELLS FARGO BANK, N. A.: has personally reviewed plaintiff’s documents and records in the instant action; confirms the factual accuracy of plaintiff’s court filings; and, confirms the accuracy of the notarizations in plaintiff’s documents.

This constitutes the Decision and Order of the Court.

ENTER

________________________________
HON. ARTHUR M. SCHACK

J. S. C.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD1 Comment

FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES SCOTT A. WALTER PART 2 “STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.”, “O. MAX GARDNER”, “US TRUSTEE”

FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES SCOTT A. WALTER PART 2 “STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.”, “O. MAX GARDNER”, “US TRUSTEE”

EXCERPT:

Q. So this doesn’t necessarily mean
3 that someone physically picked up the file
4 from LPS; correct?
5 A. My understanding is that this is
6 a note that automates when the attorney
7 has confirmed receipt through new image.
8 Whether that’s manual or not, I couldn’t
9 say based on the notes. And then new
10 image stamps into the LPS Desktop
11 confirming that NIE ID number 0966 and on
12 was pulled in, those documents were
13 received by the attorney.
14 Q. Does LPS have any employees at
15 the Steven J. Baum law firm?
16 A. Not that I’m aware of.

<SNIP>

Q. This is from the Steven J. Baum
law firm; correct?
3 A. It appears to be.
4 Q. Would you have any reason to
5 doubt that?
6 A. No.
7 Q. And could you tell me what this
8 entry represents.
9 A. To the best of my understanding,
10 they have user has completed a POA
11 requisite data form, exactly what it says.
12 I guess I couldn’t give you a full answer.
13 I don’t manage this process, but it
14 appears they are requesting something.
15 Q. So just start me off, POA
16 underscore requisite, what does that stand
17 for?
18 A. I could guess.
19 Q. Is that a category or a type of
20 document?
21 A. Again, I could guess.
22 Q. I don’t want you to guess, but
23 can you make an educated guess?
24 A. Power of attorney.
25 Q. Who at LPS would have a better
understanding of this process? You said
3 it’s not really you.
4 A. I don’t know.
5 Q. Let’s go to entry two hundred
6 fifty-one dated 11/4/08. User has updated
7 the system for the following. Power of
8 attorney requested, completed on 11/4/08.
9 Do you see that?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Can you tell me what that entry
12 is.
13 A. I could give you an educated
14 guess.
15 Q. Go ahead.
16 A. My educated guess would be the
17 attorney has requested a power of
18 attorney.
19 Q. From whom?
20 A. From that note, I couldn’t say
21 for certain. But below the secondary
22 note, it seems to indicate JP Morgan to
23 Scott Walter.
24 Q. Who is asking for that? It’s
25 kind of written in the passive.
Who’s actually asking for the
3 power of attorney?

4 A. Appears to me from the notes
5 that Steven J. Baum’s office is making
6 this request.

<SNIP>

A. It appears to be Steven J. Baum
3 noting the file, memorializing that they
4 have prepared an assignment, they have
5 uploaded it into the LPS Desktop to be
6 reviewed and executed, and that it isn’t
7 back yet.

8 Q. What does it mean assignment was
9 received not signed, who’s receiving that?
10 A. I wouldn’t know.
11 Q. Well, do you read this as the
12 assignment is not signed?

13 A. I read it as an assignment is
14 not signed or, let me better state what I
15 meant to say, is that a signed assignment
16 hasn’t been received by Steven J. Baum.

17 Which assignment though I couldn’t tell
18 from this note.

19 Q. Would this assignment be signed
20 by LPS; is that what this is saying?

21 A. It appears that the attorney is
22 stating that.
However, I can’t tell you
23 whether LPS would have signed this
24 document or not without seeing the
25 document that the note’s referencing.

Continue below…

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD3 Comments

[NYSBK] Circa:08 JUDGE BLASTS BAUM, CHASE HOME FINANCE, PILLAR PROCESSING “ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE” In Re: SCHUESSLER

[NYSBK] Circa:08 JUDGE BLASTS BAUM, CHASE HOME FINANCE, PILLAR PROCESSING “ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE” In Re: SCHUESSLER

EXCERPTS:

On November 28, 2007, several months after this Court scheduled an evidentiary hearing and directed Chase Home Finance to submit the Policy Affidavit, a letter was filed on the Court docket in this case addressed to the Clerk of the Court from a legal assistant acting on behalf of “Pillar Processing, LLC,” an entity unknown to the Court that appeared to have no connection with this case or these Debtors. The letter stated:

Dear Sir or Madam:

Respecting captioned bankruptcy matter, please be advised that the 362 motion scheduled for December 7, 2007, at 10:30am [sic] has been
withdrawn.

Very Truly Yours,
PILLAR PROCESSING, LLC.
By: Robin L. Brown
Legal Assistant

ECF Docket No. 23. Though no relationship was identified or explained in the body or
letterhead, Pillar Processing and Chase Home Finance’s bankruptcy counsel, Steven J.
Baum, P.C., share the same address and telephone number, and ECF reflects that the
letter was filed using a password issued to “Dennis Jose [a Steven J. Baum, P.C. attorney]
on behalf of CHASE HOME FINANCE, LLC.” Chase Home Finance’s bankruptcy
counsel, Steven J. Baum, P.C., has made no effort to address or explain this act, or the
propriety of this action on the record.

<SNIPS>

Finally, the Attorney Affirmation made no effort to explain the relationship between the Steven J.
Baum, P.C. law firm and Pillar Processing, LLC, the non-legal entity that attempted to
withdraw the Lift-Stay Motion.

<SNIP>

The Court will issue a separate order denying the Lift-Stay motion and directing
that neither Chase Home Finance, the current holder or owner of the note and mortgage,
nor any of their successors-in-interest shall in any way seek or charge any attorneys’ fees
or other charges against Debtors, their property, or the mortgage, whether now or at the
end of the mortgage, if such fees or charges are in any manner connected with the Lift-
Stay Motion, the Order to Show Cause, or the Evidentiary Hearing.

This decision is published as a warning, not just to Chase Home Finance and
other mortgage servicers, but to all individuals and entities involved in the process, along
the line – analysts, supervisors and other personnel employed by mortgage servicers;
third-party vendors; regional law firms; and local counsel – that the conduct identified
here, in this Court’s view, constitutes an abuse of process. Although the Court’s focus in
this case was on the mortgage servicer’s conduct and did not order all of the participants
to appear and respond to this Order to Show Cause, they will be included in future orders
if such abusive conduct continues, and the Court will assume familiarity with this
decision.

The Lift-Stay motion, which originated with a notation on an analyst’s computer
screen, has generated a 60-page decision and stress on the Debtors for the nine-month
period that the Lift-Stay Motion was pending. The Court is not compensated according
to time spent on a particular case, but this Order to Show Cause has drawn time and
resources away from other, meritorious cases. Judicial resources do not permit such a
thorough examination of every case. This decision sanctions Chase Home Finance only
for the actual costs incurred by the Debtors. In the Court’s view, the sanction is an
extremely mild one, because the Supreme Court instructs that a bankruptcy court should
exercise its Section 105 powers with restraint and discretion. The Court does not regard
the exercise of restraint in this case to be a limitation on the sanctions that might be
imposed in the future against Chase Home Finance or another mortgage servicer if this
abuse occurs again. If Chase Home Finance, other mortgage servicers and any
employees, third-party vendors, or any attorneys involved in the process at any level
exhibit the same type of abusive conduct in the future, this Court believes that Section
105(a) authorizes sanctions of increasing severity.

Dated: Poughkeepsie, New York
April 10, 2008

/s/ Cecelia Morris .
. CECELIA G. MORRIS
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY JUDGE

Read below…

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD3 Comments

STEVEN J. BAUM PC, HSBC Mtg Corp “EX PARTE”, “MILITARY DEFENDANT” While Defending Nation

STEVEN J. BAUM PC, HSBC Mtg Corp “EX PARTE”, “MILITARY DEFENDANT” While Defending Nation

HSBC Mtge. Corp. (USA) v Cohen
2010 NY Slip Op 20474
Decided on November 24, 2010
Supreme Court, Lewis County
McGuire, J.

Excerpt:

The issues presented here are finding repeated argument, typically via ex parte correspondence outside of formal motion practice. Counsel for mortgagees propound a position that defendant mortgagors in military status do not qualify for statutory service member protections if the service member/mortgagee executed the subject mortgage while a member of the military. It is the Court’s view that, respectfully, counsel for mortgagees propounding such a position in general, and counsel for this Plaintiff in particular, misapprehend both the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and New York Military Law. Although both SCRA and state law provide specific protections for service members related to mortgage [*2]foreclosures (50 App. USCA §533; NY Military Law §312), and Plaintiff correctly claims that these protections apply only where the mortgage obligation was incurred prior to the service member’s military service, it must be noted that both statutes also provide general protection to service members against default judgments.

The specific statutory provisions relating to mortgage foreclosures provide for special penalties and remedies if a sale or foreclosure occurs without adherence to the statutes when the service member executed the mortgage before entering military service. (50 App. USCA §533[c] & [d]; NY Military Law §312[3] & [4].)

The general protections against default judgments apply to any type of civil action, with no exception for mortgage foreclosures. There also is no statutory language indicating that the specific, mortgage foreclosure provisions supercede the general protection provisions.

It is the clear policy of the nation and our state to allow service members to focus their energies on the defense of our nation, and to be provided with protections from the burdens of civil actions while in active service. (50 App. USCA §502; NY Military Law §300.) Liberal construction of the service member protection statutes is advised. (NY Military Law §300; see e.g., In re Watson, 292 BR 441 [Bkrtcy SD Ga [2003].)

Continue below…

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD0 Comments

[NYSC] STEVEN J BAUM PC UNABLE TO LOCATE WELLS FARGO AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE TRANSFER OF ANY LOAN DOCUMENTS

[NYSC] STEVEN J BAUM PC UNABLE TO LOCATE WELLS FARGO AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE TRANSFER OF ANY LOAN DOCUMENTS

SUPREME COURT – STATE OF NEW YORK
I.A.S. PART XXXVI SUFFOLK COUNTY

Plaintiff, PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY:
STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.

220 Northpointe Parkway, Suite G
Amherst, New York 14228

WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.,

-against-

SUNNY ENG, SHIRLEY ENG, HTFC
CORPORATION
, JANE ENG,

DEFENDANTS’ ATTORNEY:
LAW OFFICES OF CRAIG D. ROBINS
Woodbury, New York 11797
Defendants. 180 Froehlich Farm Blvd.
……………………………………………………….. X

Excerpts:

The Court notes that the same law firm, Steven J. Baum, P.C., represented both HTFC and Wells Fargo as plaintiffs.

Moreover, Mr. Wider avers that “Jeffrey Stephan,” who purportedly executed the assignment as “Limited Signing Officer” of HTFC Corporation, has never been an employee of HTFC and that such person was never authorized to act as a “Limited Signing Officer” on behalf of HTFC for any purpose.

Wells Fargo does not have standing to maintain and prosecute this action to foreclose defendants’ mortgage. Plaintiffs have failed to come forward with any evidence to substantiate its claims herein or to raise a triable issue of fact. Indeed, the affirmation of plaintiffs attorney, sworn to September 8, 2010, reflects that plaintiff has been unable to locate any documents substantiating plaintiffs “belief’ that “its servicer had the authority to execute any and all documents attendant to the transfer of the loan.”

Continue below to see both the Decision, Assignment in question…

ENG COM

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD2 Comments

SANCTIONS! STEVEN J. BAUM PC For Practice of Fraud, Deception, and Misrepresentation Upon the Court: FREDDIE MAC v. RAIA

SANCTIONS! STEVEN J. BAUM PC For Practice of Fraud, Deception, and Misrepresentation Upon the Court: FREDDIE MAC v. RAIA

GO HERE FOR PART 1:

NY Law Offices of Steven J. Baum P.C. may get sanctions for False Representations

Now the finale…

.

Federal Home Loan Mtge. Corp.v Raia

2010 NY Slip Op 52003(U)
Decided on November 23, 2010
District Court Of Nassau County, First District
Fairgrieve, J.

Steven J. Baum, P.C., Attorneys for Petitioner, 220 Northpointe Parkway, Suite G, Amherst, New York 14228, 716-204-2400;

Jeffrey A. Seigel, Esq., Volunteer Lawyers Project, Attorneys for Respondent, One Helen Keller Way, Hempstead, New York 11550, 516-292-8299.

Scott Fairgrieve, J.

On January 5, 2010, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. (“Wells Fargo”) was the successful bidder at the foreclosure sale of the subject premises known as 360 Stewart Avenue, Unit 1E, Garden City, New York. Wells Fargo received 220 shares of Stewart Franklin Owners Corp., as well as the proprietary lease previously owned by the Respondent, Paul Raia.

On March 12, 2010, Wells Fargo purportedly assigned its January 5, 2010 bid to Petitioner Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (“FHLMC”). However, the “Assignment of Bid” contains only the signature of Steven J. Baum, P.C., and there is no indication for which party the signature was made. Mr. Baum’s office claimed to have the authority to execute the document on behalf of FHLMC by way of a power of attorney attached to the petition. Baum’s office also claimed to have the same authority for Wells Fargo, although Baum’s office provides no evidence in support of that allegation.

EXCERPTS:

Baum has recently faced numerous standing issues concerning assignment, for which its cases were dismissed.

The opinion continues on to state that the “court’s inherent power to impose sanctions is particularly appropriate where fraud, deception, and misrepresentation has been practiced upon the Court.

The fraud perpetrated on the court here occurred when petitioner’s attorney swore that the petition had been read and that the contents of the petition were true to the deponent’s own knowledge. Sanctions may attach to attempts to deceive the court.

CONCLUSION

In view of the foregoing, Steven J. Baum, P.C. must compensate Volunteer Lawyers Project in the amount of $14,532.50 for reasonable attorney’s fees and disbursements within 30 days of the date of this order. Further, this court imposes monetary sanctions in the amount of $5,000.00 on Steven J. Baum, P.C. payable to “Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection,” established pursuant to section 97-t of the State Finance Law, within 30 days of the date of this order. The clerk of the court is directed to give notice, pursuant to 130-1.3, to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection concerning this award of sanctions.

So Ordered:

/s/ Hon. Scott Fairgrieve

DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

Continue reading below…

Federal Home Loan Mtge. Corp v RAIA

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD5 Comments

NY CLASS ACTION | MENASHE v. STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.

NY CLASS ACTION | MENASHE v. STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.

JACOB MENASHE

against

STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD1 Comment

OUTRAGEOUS |NYSC Judge Suspends 30 Cases From Steven J. Baum PC for Intentional Failure of Improper and Inadequate Submissions

OUTRAGEOUS |NYSC Judge Suspends 30 Cases From Steven J. Baum PC for Intentional Failure of Improper and Inadequate Submissions

What in the world is happening to America? What laws exist that permits this to happen over and over and over …again?

After StopForeclosureFraud posted the Class Action against a Foreclosure Mill in Florida it took the FL AG 4 days to request information from this case that lead to an Investigation.

Then within a matter of days after SFF released information on another Foreclosure Mill in Massachusetts, they too launched one.

SFF has posted numerous court orders involving this firm and nothing has come about the fraud they are submitting and swearing to under oath. Shocking.

Lets set aside that these are FORECLOSURES for a second…T h e s e   a r e   o f f i c e r s   o f   t h e   c o u r t    [PERIOD END OF STORY], intentionally submitting bogus, fraudulent documents even after they were made aware of new filing requirements.

“We cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process, especially when that process involves basic human needs–such as a family home–during this period of economic crisis,” said New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in a statement.

Judge Melvyn Tanenbaum suspends the following cases

Excerpt:

This Court has repeatedly directed plaintiffs counsel to submit proposed orders of reference
and judgments of foreclosure in proper form and counsel has continuously failed to do so. The Court
provided counsel’s office directly with copies of orders and judgments which would satisfy the
requirements and counsel has responded by submitting correspondence addressed to the Court from
non-attorney employees with improper and inadequate submissions. The Court deems plaintiffs
counsel’s actions to be an intentional failure to comply with the directions of the Court and a
dereliction of professional responsibility.
Accordingly it is…

Continue to the Orders All The Way Down…

.

Another 18 reasons why an Investigation should be in order…some of us are keeping track and trust me there is many more!

  1. NY Judge Hammers “Foreclosure Mill” STEVEN J. BAUM For Failing To Comply (25.049)
  2. NYSC LPS FORECLOSURE AFFIDAVIT ‘NO PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE’ & ‘FAILURE IN SUPPORT’
  3. NEW YORK STATE COURT FORECLOSURE FRAUD CASES (14.441)
  4. GMAC, Steven Baum Law Firm Face FORECLOSURE FIGHT in NY COURT (14.273)
  5. Judge ARTHUR SCHACK’s COLASSAL Steven J. BAUM “MiLL” SMACK DOWN!! MERS TWILIGHT ZONE! (14.077)
  6. NY SUPREME COURT: WELLS FARGO, MERS & STEVEN J. BAUM “FATAL DEFECT”
  7. NY BANKRUPTCY COURT In Re: Fagan DECISION GRANTING SANCTIONS FOR MOTION TO LIFT STAY BASED ON FALSE CERTIFICATION
  8. HSBC BANK and STEVEN J. BAUM LAW FIRM both SANCTIONED for filing a FRIVOLOUS lawsuit
  9. “TRO” ISSUED ON MERS, MERRILL & STEVEN J. BAUM
  10. HEY NY TIMES…’NO PROOF’ JEFFREY STEPHAN HAS AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE AFFIDAVIT FOR WELLS FARGO
  11. GMAC, MERS & STEVEN J. BAUM PC…THE COURT IS AT LOSS ON A PURPORTED “CORRECTIVE ASSIGNMENT”
  12. ‘NO PROOF’ MERS assigned BOTH Mortgage and NOTE to HSBC
  13. NY Law Offices of Steven J. Baum P.C. may get sanctions for False Representations
  14. NEW YORK COURT DISMISSES FORECLOSURE WITH PREJUDICE ON ILLEGAL MERS ASSIGNMENT EXECUTED BY COUNSEL FOR THE FORECLOSING PLAINTIFF
  15. Lasalle Bank N.A. v Smith 2010: NY Slip Judge Schack does it again! Slams BAUM Law Firm!
  16. [NYSC] MERS HAS NO INTEREST, STANDING, OFFICER AFFIDAVIT HAS NO PROVATIVE VALUE
  17. [NYBKC] WELLS FARGO ASSIGNMENT, STEVEN J. BAUM P.C. COUNSEL UNABLE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN SUPPORT
  18. AMENDED |NEW YORK FORECLOSURE CLASS ACTION AGAINST STEVEN J. BAUM & MERSCORP

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD4 Comments

[NYBKC] WELLS FARGO ASSIGNMENT, STEVEN J. BAUM P.C. COUNSEL UNABLE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN SUPPORT

[NYBKC] WELLS FARGO ASSIGNMENT, STEVEN J. BAUM P.C. COUNSEL UNABLE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN SUPPORT

In re: TANDALA MIMS AKA TANDALA WILLIAMS, Chapter 7, Debtor.

Case No. 10-14030 (MG).

United States Bankruptcy Court, S.D. New York.

October 27, 2010.

STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C., Amherst, NY, By: Phillip Mahony, Esq., Attorneys for Secured Creditor Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

LAMONICA HERBST & MANISCALCO, LLP Wantagh, NY, By: Salvatore Lamonica, Esq., Chapter 7 Trustee.

LAW OFFICE OF DAVID BRODMAN, Bronx, NY, By: David Brodman, Esq., Attorney for Debtor Tandala Mims.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.’S MOTION FOR TERMINATION OF THE AUTOMATIC STAY

MARTIN GLENN, Bankruptcy Judge

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Wells Fargo”) moves the Court for an order lifting the automatic stay with regard to 1167 Grenada Place, Bronx, NY 10466 (the “Property”) pursuant to section 362(d) of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Motion”). Wells Fargo desires to exercise its rights under a mortgage (the “First Mortgage” or “Mortgage”) and promissory note (the “Note”), including, but not limited to, the foreclosure of the Property. (ECF Doc. # 9.) The Court held a hearing on the Motion on October 20, 2010 and took the matter under submission. The Court denies Wells Fargo’s motion to lift the automatic stay for the reasons enumerated below.

BACKGROUND

Tandala Mims, a/k/a Tandala Williams (the “Debtor”), filed a voluntary petition under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code on July 27, 2010. (ECF Doc. # 1.) Wells Fargo contends that it is a secured creditor of the Debtor by an assignment of mortgage dated September 13, 2010, in the principal amount of $374,037.00 (the “Assignment”). The property is subject to two mortgages. The First Mortgage to Wells Fargo, dated May 10, 2004, indicates that the lender was Lend America, and was recorded in the name of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (“MERS”), as nominee for Lend America.[1] Wells Fargo claims that the Debtor owes $355,398.13 on the First Mortgage. The Debtor also has a second mortgage with M&T Bank (the “Second Mortgage”), which when combined with the First Mortgage and lien, totals $389,647.13. In support of its standing to bring the Motion, Wells Fargo attaches (1) loan documents, including the First Mortgage and accompanying Note; (2) a copy of the Debtor’s Schedules A and D (the “Schedules”),[2] in which the Debtor lists Wells Fargo as a secured creditor with respect to the Property and (3) a lift-stay worksheet, dated September 16, 2010, pursuant to Local Rule 4001-1(c) (the “Worksheet”).

The Note attached to the Motion was originally made payable to Lend America. The last page of the Note, however, contains a stamped endorsement, “Paid to the Order of Washington Mutual Bank, FA, Without Recourse Lend America.” (ECF Doc. # 9, at Ex. 1.) No evidence is offered that Washington Mutual Bank ever assigned or transferred the Note to Wells Fargo or to any other party. Washington Mutual Bank was taken over by the FDIC on September 25, 2008, and its assets were sold to J.P. Morgan Chase (“Chase”) on that same date. Press Release, Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., JP Morgan Chase Acquires Banking Operations of Washington Mutual (Sept. 25, 2008) (on file with FDIC). There is nothing in the record to indicate whether Chase acquired the Note and whether Chase, in turn, subsequently transferred the Note to Wells Fargo.

The Worksheet reflects that the Debtor’s total pre-petition and post-petition indebtedness to Wells Fargo on the Property, as of the petition date, was $355,398.13; that the Debtor’s last payment was received on June 4, 2010 (but was placed in a suspense account); and that the Debtor has missed six payments, from April 1, 2010 to September 1, 2010. In support of its claim that the Debtor lacks any substantial equity in the property, Wells Fargo attaches the Debtor’s Schedule A and Schedule D, which list the current value of the Property as $430,000. Assuming the accuracy of this figure, the Debtor would have exempt equity in the property.[3] The Debtor’s Schedules claim the property as exempt and states the Debtor’s intention to retain the property.

The signature on the Worksheet indicates that it was prepared by Craig C. Zecher, a Wells Fargo legal process specialist. Despite the fact that Wells Fargo did not obtain an assignment of the Mortgage until September 13, 2010, seven days before the lift-stay motion was filed on September 20, 2010, the Worksheet provides information about payment defaults dating back to April 1, 2010. Wells Fargo’s ability to certify the accuracy of the information provided in the Worksheet is questionable given its only recently acquired interest in the First Mortgage.[4]

Neither the Debtor’s counsel nor the chapter 7 trustee filed anything in response to the lift-stay motion.

DISCUSSION

The Court concludes that Wells Fargo lacks standing to request relief from the automatic stay.

A. Wells Fargo is Not a “Party in Interest” And Therefore Lacks Standing to Request Relief From the Automatic Stay

Section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code imposes an automatic stay on all litigation against the Debtor, as well as “any act to create, perfect, or enforce any lien against property of the estate.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(a). Section 362(d) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that “[o]n request of a party in interest and after notice and a hearing, the court shall grant relief from the stay . . . .” 11 U.S.C. § 362(d) (emphasis added). The term “party in interest” is nowhere defined in the Bankruptcy Code. However, the Supreme Court has suggested that when an undefined term is used in bankruptcy law, “[i]n determining the term’s scope—and its limitations—the purposes of the Bankruptcy Act `must ultimately govern.'” Kokoszka v. Belford, 417 U.S. 642, 645 (1974) (citing Segal v. Rochelle, 382 U.S. 375, 379 (1966)).

Though courts have interpreted the “purposes of the Bankruptcy Act” differently, the Second Circuit explained in In re Comcoach, 698 F.2d 571, 573 (2d Cir. 1983), “[b]ankruptcy courts were established to provide a forum where creditors and debtors could settle their disputes . . . .” The Comcoach court went on to find that in order to invoke the court’s jurisdiction to obtain relief from the automatic stay, the moving party had to be either a creditor or a debtor.[5]Id. In support of this assertion, the court cited to the Bankruptcy Code’s legislative history “which suggests that, notwithstanding the use of the term `party in interest’, [sic] it is only creditors who may obtain relief from the automatic stay.” Id. (citing H.R.REP. NO. 95-595, (1978), reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.C. 5787, 6136 (“Creditors may obtain relief from the stay if their interests would be harmed by continuance of the stay.”)). It follows from the Second Circuit’s analysis that unless Wells Fargo qualifies as a “creditor,” it does not have standing to request relief from the automatic stay.

Section 101(10) of the Bankruptcy Code defines a “creditor” as an:

(A) entity that has a claim against the debtor that arose at the time of or before the order for relief concerning the debtor;

(B) entity that has a claim against the estate of a kind specified in section 348(d), 502(f), 502(g), 502(h) or 502(i) of this title; or

(C) entity that has a community claim.

11 U.S.C. § 101(10). This definition requires consideration of what constitutes a “claim,” which conveniently is also a defined term in section § 101(5) of the Bankruptcy Code.

Section 101(5)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code defines a “claim” as the “right to payment, whether or not such right is reduced to judgment, liquidated, unliquidated, fixed, contingent, matured, unmatured, disputed, undisputed, legal, equitable, secured or unsecured.” Even under this broad definition, Wells Fargo has not demonstrated its “right to payment” because, as discussed more fully below, it lacks the ability to seek the state law remedy of foreclosure. Johnson v. Home State Bank, 501 U.S. 78, 84 (1991) (finding that a mortgage foreclosure was a “right to payment” against the debtor).

B. Wells Fargo Lacks Standing to Exercise any State Law Remedies

Within the context of a bankruptcy proceeding, state law governs the determination of property rights. See Butner v. United States, 440 U.S. 48, 54 (1979) (noting that absent an actual conflict with federal bankruptcy law, Congress “has generally left the determination of property rights in the assets of a bankrupt’s estate to state law”); In re Morton, 866 F.2d 561, 563 (2d Cir. 1989). Under New York law “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.” Kluge v. Fugazy, 145 A.D.2d 537, 538 (2d Dept. 1988) (citing cases); see also HSBC Bank USA, Nat. Ass’n v. Miller, 26 Misc.3d 407, 411-12 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Sullivan County 2009). As the courts in Kluge and HSBC have recognized, this rule of law dates back over one hundred and forty years, when the New York Court of Appeals held:

[a]s a mortgage is but an incident to the debt which it is intended to secure the logical conclusion is that a transfer of the mortgage without the debt is a nullity, and no interest is acquired from the debt, and exist independently of it. This is the necessary legal conclusion, and recognized as the rule by a long course of judicial decisions. Merritt v. Bartholick, 36 N.Y. 44, 45 (1867). Because Wells Fargo has not offered evidence that it owns the original Note, Wells Fargo lacks standing to foreclose on the Mortgage and has therefore failed to demonstrate it is the holder of a “claim.”

According to N.Y. REAL PROPERTY LAW § 244, assignments in New York state may be effectuated by the delivery of the relevant note and mortgage. An assignment need not be evidenced by a written assignment. In re Conde-Dedonato, 391 B.R. 247, 251 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2008) (citing Flyer v. Sullivan, 284 A.D. 697, 699 (1st Dept. 1954) (“Our courts have repeatedly held that a bond and mortgage may be transferred by delivery without a written instrument of assignment.”)). Delivery requires the physical transfer of the instrument from assignor to assignee. Bank of New York v. Mulligan, No. 29399-07, 2010 WL 3339452, at *6 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Kings County Aug. 25, 2010).

Wells Fargo has not supplied the Court with any evidence that the Note was physically delivered or assigned pursuant to a written agreement. Here, the Note only indicates a transfer from Lend America to Washington Mutual Bank and not to Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo has not presented any evidence that it is in possession of the original Note, or that it received the Note via a valid written assignment. Arguably, Wells Fargo has proved that it is the title holder of the Mortgage, as of a date seven days before the filing of the Motion, but the Assignment of Mortgage does not include language assigning the Note along with the Mortgage. Had the assignor desired to assign the Note using the same instrument, it could have used different language to accomplish this end. MCKINNEY’S REAL PROPERTY LAW § 258 [Schedule O], contains a form “Assignment of Mortgage” which clearly assigns both the mortgage and the underlying debt. The form contains the following language:

Know that……, assignor, in consideration of …….. dollars, paid by…….., assignee, hereby assigns unto the assignee, a certain mortgage made by …….., given to secure payment of the sum of…….. dollars and interest, dated the …….. day of ………., recorded on the ……. day of ……., in the office of the…….. of the county of ………, in liber ……. of mortgages, at page …….., covering premises …….., together with the bond or obligation described in said mortgage, and the moneys due and to grow due thereon with the interest,

To have and to hold the same unto the assignee, and to the successors, legal representatives and assigns of the assignee forever. In witness whereof, the assignor has hereunto set his hand and seal this…… day of ……., nineteen hundred and ……. In presence of:

As one court recently cautioned, “[w]hile an assignor is not required to use statutory Form [sic] O, if it intends to assign the mortgage and the underlying debt, it is well advised to employ language that unambiguously does so.” Deutsche Bank Nat. Trust Co. v. McRae, 894 N.Y.S.2d 720, 722 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Allegany County 2010). As Wells Fargo has failed to prove it owns the Note, it has failed to establish that it has standing to pursue its state law remedies with regard to the Mortgage and Property.

C. The Court Has Additional Reservations Regarding the Validity of the Mortgage Assignment

In support of its Motion, Wells Fargo annexed a copy of the Mortgage as Exhibit A to the Motion. While there is nothing that undermines the facial validity of the Mortgage, there are issues surrounding the Assignment from MERS, as nominee for Lend America, to Wells Fargo. The September 13, 2010 Assignment suggests that it may have been executed simply for purposes of enabling Wells Fargo to file a lift-stay motion. An assignment in anticipation of bringing a lift-stay motion does not in and of itself indicate bad faith. However, in the absence of a credible explanation, describing how, when and from whom Wells Fargo derived its rights, relief from the stay will not be granted. Second, MERS, as nominee for Lend America, and presumably its Assistant Vice President, John Kennerly, whose signature is on the assignment, have an address in Ocala, Florida. Kennerly’s signature on the Assignment was, however, notarized in South Carolina, the address shown on the Assignment for Wells Fargo. Did Kennerly personally appear before the notary as represented? If not, is the Assignment valid? When asked about these issues during the October 20, 2010 hearing, Wells Fargo’s counsel was unable to answer any questions about the supporting documents. All of these matters will need to be addressed if Wells Fargo renews its lift-stay motion. Under FED. R. BANKR. P. 9014(a), the Motion to lift the automatic stay created a contested matter. Under that Rule, “No response is required . . . unless the court directs otherwise.” Id. In the event a new lift-stay motion is filed, Debtor’s counsel and the chapter 7 trustee are directed to file a response.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons explained above, Wells Fargo’s motion to lift the automatic stay is DENIED without prejudice.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

[1] The State of New York’s Banking Department website indicates that, “[o]n November 30, 2009, The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) withdrew the FHA approval of . . . [Lend America]. As a result, Lend America was prohibited from originating and underwriting new FHA-insured mortgages or participating in the FHA single family insurance program. Effective December 1, 2009, Lend America discontinued its mortgage origination operations. However, the company continues service [sic] mortgage loans.” IDEAL MORTGAGE BANKER D/B/A LEND AMERICA, http://www.banking.state.ny.us/lendamerica.htm (last visited October 21, 2010).

[2] The Schedules were attached to the Debtor’s petition. Schedule A lists Real Property and Schedule D lists Creditors Holding Secured Claims. (ECF Doc. # s 1, 9.)

[3] The Bankruptcy Code contains a set of federal exemptions and permits debtors to choose between either federal or state exemptions. 11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(1). However, the Bankruptcy Code also permits individual states to “opt-out” of the federal exemption scheme. See e.g., In re Corio, 190 B.R. 498, 499 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 1995). Pursuant to N.Y. DEBT. & CRED. LAW § 284, New York is one state that has opted-out from the federal exemption scheme. Consequently, the real property exemptions of CPLR § 5206 govern. Contained within CPLR § 5206(a) is New York’s homestead exemption, which provides that qualifying real property is exempt from “application to [satisfy] a money judgment” if the value of the real property does not “[exceed] fifty thousand dollars in value above liens and encumbrances, [and is] owned and occupied as a principal residence.” Qualifying real property under CPLR § 5206(a)(1) includes “a lot of land with a dwelling thereon.”

[4] The Worksheet states: “I certify that the information provided in this form and/or any exhibits attached to this form (other than the transactional documents attached as required by paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, immediately above) is derived from records, that were made at or near the time of the occurrence of the matters set forth by, or from information transmitted by, a person with knowledge of those matters, were kept in the course of the regularly conducted activity; and were made by the regularly conducted activity as a regular practice.” The Worksheet was then signed by Craig C. Zecher, Legal Process Specialist. (ECF Doc. # 9.)

[5] The facts in Comcoach involved a bank, and therefore this language should not be read to exclude from the definition of a “party in interest” the United States Trustee or other corporate or corporeal entities specifically given standing in the Bankruptcy Code or applicable case law.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD4 Comments

NY SUPREME COURT: WELLS FARGO, MERS & STEVEN J. BAUM “FATAL DEFECT”

NY SUPREME COURT: WELLS FARGO, MERS & STEVEN J. BAUM “FATAL DEFECT”

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE of New York
COUNTY OF ORANGE

Index No. 2593-2009
————————————–X
WELLS FARGO BANK, NA,
3476 Stateview Boulevard
Ft. Mill, SC 29715, DECISION & ORDER
Plaintiff,

-against –

A.D.PANETH A/K/A AHARON D. PANETH A/K/A Motion Date: 9-24-10
AARON D. PANETH A/K/A AD PANETH, BOARD
OF MANAGERS OF NINETEENTH SATMAR DRIVE
CONDOMINIUM, FAIRMONT FUNDING, LTD.,
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, et al,
Defendants.
————————————-X
LUBELL, J.


Excerpts:

Upon Paneth’s asserted default in his monthly mortgage obligations, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Default Management
Department, sent a notice of delinquency to Paneth at the Premises address dated November 16, 2008. No mention is made therein of an assignment of the mortgage by Fairmont to Wells Fargo. In fact, no mention is made at all of Fairmont or MERS.

By “Assignment of Mortgage” dated March 13, 2009, some four months after the Wells Fargo notice of default, MERS, as nominee for Fairmont, assigned the mortgage to Wells Fargo.

This action was commenced by Wells Fargo on March 16, 2009. Pursuant to the affidavit of service dated March 19, 2009, Paneth was served by personal delivery of the summons and complaint at the Premises to one “Hanna Paneth – Spouse.” Service was completed on March 23, 2009 by mailing of a copy of the summons to Paneth at “his last know address”, the Premises.

Upon the expiration of defendant’s time to answer, an ex parte Order of Reference was granted by the Court on October 6, 2009. Thereafter, a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale was executed by the Court on May 24, 2010. A foreclosure sale was then scheduled.
This application follows.

Whether or not, as Paneth contends, he was properly served with process, the Court finds merit to the application for the reasons herein stated.

Although the notice of default, a contractual condition to acceleration of the mortgage, was sent to Paneth at the proper address, the Premises, Wells Fargo has failed to establish that the notice of default was sent by the then proper party, Fairmont, or a then duly and properly authorized agent (see, HSBC Mortg. Corp. (USA) v. Erneste, 22 Misc.3d 1115(A)[Sup Ct, Kings County] citing Manufactures and Traders Trust Co. v. Korngold, 162 Misc.2d 669 [Sup Ct, Rockland County] and QMB Holdings, LLC v. Escava Brothers, 11 Misc.3d 1060[A][Sup Ct, Bronx County]).

This fatal defect is neither adequately addressed by plaintiff nor cured by plaintiff’s assertion, through counsel, that “[i]t is respectfully submitted that Plaintiff was in possession of the Mortgage and Note at the time the instance foreclosure action was commenced.”

Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby

ORDERED, that the Court hereby vacates the Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale executed by the Court on May 24, 2010; and, it is further

ORDERED, that the case be and is hereby dismissed.

The foregoing constitutes the Opinion, Decision & Order of the Court.
Dated: Goshen, New York
October 14, 2010
S/_____________________________
HON. LEWIS J. LUBELL, J.S.C.
TO: Kenneth Moran, Esq.
11 N. Airmont Road
Suffern, New York 10901

Jacob W. Osher, Esq.
Steven J. Bau, PC
220 Northpointe Parkway – Suite G
Amherst, New York 14228

[ipaper docId=39469830 access_key=key-2novwiznnui1d2i0srwf height=600 width=600 /]

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Posted in assignment of mortgage, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., wells fargo1 Comment

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