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The Big Lie: MERS Mortgages in Massachusetts by Jamie Ranney, Esq.

The Big Lie: MERS Mortgages in Massachusetts by Jamie Ranney, Esq.


This is a repost from a previous post dated 11/30/2010

by Jamie Ranney, Esq.
Jamie Ranney, PC
4 Thirty Acres Lane
Nantucket, MA 02554
jamie@nantucketlaw.pro
508-228-9224

This memo will focus on MERS-designated mortgages in Massachusetts.

In this author’s opinion two (2) things are evident after a survey of Massachusetts law.

First, MERS cannot be a valid “mortgagee” under Massachusetts law and thus MERS designated mortgages are invalid in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This is because MERS-designated mortgages by definition “split” the security instrument (the mortgage) from the debt (the promissory note) when they are signed. This “split” invalidates the mortgage under Massachusetts law. Where the security interest is invalid upon the signing of the mortgage, MERS cannot occupy the legal position of a “mortgagee” under Massachusetts law no matter what language MERS inserts into their mortgages that purports to give them the legal position of “mortgagee”. Since MERS-designated mortgages are invalid at their inception, it follows logically therefore that MERS mortgages are not legally capable of being recorded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by its Registers of Deeds.

Second, even if a MERS-designated mortgage were found to be a valid security instrument in Massachusetts, each and every assignment of the mortgage and note “behind” a MERS-designated mortgage must be recorded on the public land records of the Commonwealth in order to comply with the Massachusetts recording statute at M.G.L. c. 183, s. 4 which requires that “conveyances of an estate” be recorded to be valid. A mortgage is a “conveyance of an estate” under Massachusetts law. Since MERS-designated mortgages exist for the primary purpose of holding “legal” title on the public land records while the “beneficial” interest is transferred and sold multiple times (and a mortgage cannot exist without a note under Massachusetts law), MERS-mortgages unlawfully avoid recording fees due the Commonwealth for the transfer(s) of interests under MERS-designated mortgages.

“If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.”1

Continue reading below…

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Carpenter v. Longan, 83 US 271 – Sup. Court | The note and mtg are inseparable…ASMNT of the note carries the mtg with it, while an ASMNT of the latter alone is a nullity.

Carpenter v. Longan, 83 US 271 – Sup. Court | The note and mtg are inseparable…ASMNT of the note carries the mtg with it, while an ASMNT of the latter alone is a nullity.


H/T Dawn M. Rapoport, The Rakusin Law Firm & TitleLaw

83 U.S. 271 (____)
16 Wall. 271

CARPENTER
v.
LONGAN.

Supreme Court of United States.
Messrs. J.M. Carlisle and J.D. McPherson, for the appellant; Messrs. Bartley and Casey contra.

Mr. Justice SWAYNE stated the case, and delivered the opinion of the court.

On the 5th of March, 1867, the appellee, Mahala Longan, and Jesse B. Longan, executed their promissory note to Jacob B. Carpenter, or order, for the sum of $980, payable six months after date, at the Colorado National Bank, in Denver City, with interest at the rate of three and a half per cent. per month until paid. At the same time Mahala Longan executed to Carpenter a mortgage upon certain real estate 272*272 therein described. The mortgage was conditioned for the payment of the note at maturity, according to its effect.

On the 24th of July, 1867, more than two months before the maturity of the note, Jacob B. Carpenter, for a valuable consideration, assigned the note and mortgage to B. Platte Carpenter, the appellant. The note not being paid at maturity, the appellant filed this bill against Mahala Longan, in the District Court of Jefferson County, Colorado Territory, to foreclose the mortgage.

She answered and alleged that when she executed the mortgage to Jacob B. Carpenter, she also delivered to him certain wheat and flour, which he promised to sell, and to apply the proceeds to the payment of the note; that at the maturity of the note she had tendered the amount due upon it, and had demanded the return of the note and mortgage and of the wheat and flour, all which was refused. Subsequently she filed an amended answer, in which she charged that Jacob B. Carpenter had converted the wheat and flour to his own use, and that when the appellant took the assignment of the note and mortgage, he had full knowledge of the facts touching the delivery of the wheat and flour to his assignor. Testimony was taken upon both sides. It was proved that the wheat and flour were in the hands of Miller & Williams, warehousemen, in the city of Denver, that they sold, and received payment for, a part, and that the money thus received and the residue of the wheat and flour were lost by their failure. The only question made in the case was, upon whom this loss should fall, whether upon the appellant or the appellee. The view which we have taken of the case renders it unnecessary to advert more fully to the facts relating to the subject. The District Court decreed in favor of the appellant for the full amount of the note and interest. The Supreme Court of the Territory reversed the decree, holding that the value of the wheat and flour should be deducted. The complainant thereupon removed the case to this court by appeal.

It is proved and not controverted that the note and mortgage were assigned to the appellant for a valuable consideration 273*273 before the maturity of the note. Notice of anything touching the wheat and flour is not brought home to him.

The assignment of a note underdue raises the presumption of the want of notice, and this presumption stands until it is overcome by sufficient proof. The case is a different one from what it would be if the mortgage stood alone, or the note was non-negotiable, or had been assigned after maturity. The question presented for our determination is, whether an assignee, under the circumstances of this case takes the mortgage as he takes the note, free from the objections to which it was liable in the hands of the mortgagee. We hold the affirmative.[*] The contract as regards the note was that the maker should pay it at maturity to any bonâ fide indorsee, without reference to any defences to which it might have been liable in the hands of the payee. The mortgage was conditioned to secure the fulfilment of that contract. To let in such a defence against such a holder would be a clear departure from the agreement of the mortgagor and mortgagee, to which the assignee subsequently, in good faith, became a party. If the mortgagor desired to reserve such an advantage, he should have given a non-negotiable instrument. If one of two innocent persons must suffer by a deceit, it is more consonant to reason that he who “puts trust and confidence in the deceiver should be a loser rather than a stranger.”[†]

Upon a bill of foreclosure filed by the assignee, an account must be taken to ascertain the amount due upon the instrument secured by the mortgage. Here the amount due was the face of the note and interest, and that could have been recovered in an action at law. Equity could not find that 274*274 less was due. It is a case in which equity must follow the law. A decree that the amount due shall be paid within a specified time, or that the mortgaged premises shall be sold, follows necessarily. Powell, cited supra, says: “But if the debt were on a negotiable security, as a bill of exchange collaterally secured by a mortgage, and the mortgagee, after payment of part of it by the mortgagor, actually negotiated the note for the value, the indorsee or assignee would, it seems, in all events, be entitled to have his money from the mortgagor on liquidating the account, although he had paid it before, because the indorsee or assignee has a legal right to the note and a legal remedy at law, which a court of equity ought not to take from him, but to allow him the benefit of on the account.”

A different doctrine would involve strange anomalies. The assignee might file his bill and the court dismiss it. He could then sue at law, recover judgment, and sell the mortgaged premises under execution. It is not pretended that equity would interpose against him. So, if the aid of equity were properly invoked to give effect to the lien of the judgment upon the same premises for the full amount, it could not be refused. Surely such an excrescence ought not to be permitted to disfigure any system of enlightened jurisprudence. It is the policy of the law to avoid circuity of action, and parties ought not to be driven from one forum to obtain a remedy which cannot be denied in another.

The mortgaged premises are pledged as security for the debt. In proportion as a remedy is denied the contract is violated, and the rights of the assignee are set at naught. In other words, the mortgage ceases to be security for a part or the whole of the debt, its express provisions to the contrary notwithstanding.

The note and mortgage are inseparable; the former as essential, the latter as an incident. An assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it, while an assignment of the latter alone is a nullity.[*]

275*275 It must be admitted that there is considerable discrepancy in the authorities upon the question under consideration.

In Baily v. Smith et al.[*] — a case marked by great ability and fulness of research — the Supreme Court of Ohio came to a conclusion different from that at which we have arrived The judgment was put chiefly upon the ground that notes, negotiable, are made so by statute, while there is no such statutory provision as to mortgages, and that hence the assignee takes the latter as he would any other chose in action, subject to all the equities which subsisted against it while in the hands of the original holder. To this view of the subject there are several answers.

The transfer of the note carries with it the security, without any formal assignment or delivery, or even mention of the latter. If not assignable at law, it is clearly so in equity. When the amount due on the note is ascertained in the foreclosure proceeding, equity recognizes it as conclusive, and decrees accordingly. Whether the title of the assignee is legal or equitable is immaterial. The result follows irrespective of that question. The process is only a mode of enforcing a lien.

All the authorities agree that the debt is the principal thing and the mortgage an accessory. Equity puts the principal and accessory upon a footing of equality, and gives to the assignee of the evidence of the debt the same rights in regard to both. There is no departure from any principle of law or equity in reaching this conclusion. There is no analogy between this case and one where a chose in action standing alone is sought to be enforced. The fallacy which lies in overlooking this distinction has misled many able minds, and is the source of all the confusion that exists. The mortgage can have no separate existence. When the note is paid the mortgage expires. It cannot survive for a moment the debt which the note represents. This dependent and incidental relation is the controlling consideration, and takes the case out of the rule applied to choses in action, 276*276 where no such relation of dependence exists. Accessorium non ducit, sequitur principale.

In Pierce v. Faunce,[*] the court say: “A mortgage is pro tanto a purchase, and a bonâ fide mortgagee is equally entitled to protection as the bonâ fide grantee. So the assignee of a mortgage is on the same footing with the bonâ fide mortgagee. In all cases the reliance of the purchaser is upon the record, and when that discloses an unimpeachable title he receives the protection of the law as against unknown and latent defects.”

Matthews v. Wallwyn[†] is usually much relied upon by those who maintain the infirmity of the assignee’s title. In that case the mortgage was given to secure the payment of a non-negotiable bond. The mortgagee assigned the bond and mortgage fraudulently and thereafter received large sums which should have been credited upon the debt. The assignee sought to enforce the mortgage for the full amount specified in the bond. The Lord Chancellor was at first troubled by the consideration that the mortgage deed purported to convey the legal title, and seemed inclined to think that might take the case out of the rule of liability which would be applied to the bond if standing alone. He finally came to a different conclusion, holding the mortgage to be a mere security. He said, finally: “The debt, therefore, is the principal thing; and it is obvious that if an action was brought on the bond in the name of the mortgagee, as it must be, the mortgagor shall pay no more than what is really due upon the bond; if an action of covenant was brought by the covenantee, Cthe account must be settled in that action. In this court the condition of the assignee cannot be better than it would be at law in any mode he could take to recover what was due upon the assignment.” The principle is distinctly recognized that the measure of liability upon the instrument secured is the measure of the liability chargeable upon the security. The condition of the assignee cannot be better in law than it is in equity. 277*277 So neither can it be worse. Upon this ground we place our judgment.

We think the doctrine we have laid down is sustained by reason, principle, and the greater weight of authority.

DECREE REVERSED, and the case remanded with directions to enter a decree

IN CONFORMITY WITH THIS OPINION.

[*] Powell on Mortgages, 908; 1 Hilliard on Mortgages, 572; Coot on Mortgages, 304; Reeves v. Scully, Walker’s Chancery, 248; Fisher v. Otis, 3 Chandler, 83; Martineau v. McCollum, 4 Id. 153; Bloomer v. Henderson, 8 Michigan, 395; Potts v. Blackwell, 4 Jones, 58; Cicotte v. Gagnier, 2 Michigan, 381; Pierce v. Faunce, 47 Maine, 507; Palmer v. Yates, 3 Sandford, 137; Taylor v. Page, 6 Allen, 86; Croft v. Bunster, 9 Wisconsin, 503 Cornell v. Hilchens, 11 Id. 353.

[†] Hern v. Nichols, 1 Salkeld, 289.

[*] Jackson v. Blodget, 5 Cowan, 205; Jackson v. Willard, 4 Johnson, 43.

[*] 14 Ohio State, 396.

[*] 47 Maine, 513.

[†] 4 Vesey, 126.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST CO. AMERICAS v. PICON | NYSC Vacates JDGMT “ASMT Mortgage from MERS to Plaintiff, under New York law, definitively did not transfer ownership of the Note to Plaintiff”

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST CO. AMERICAS v. PICON | NYSC Vacates JDGMT “ASMT Mortgage from MERS to Plaintiff, under New York law, definitively did not transfer ownership of the Note to Plaintiff”


RePOST due to a possible hack.

Don’t be a fool. I can assure you, the AG’s that are investigating have this info.

~

2011 NY Slip Op 31747(U)

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS AS TRUSTEE, 9350 Waxie Way San Diego, CA 92123 Plaintiff,

v.

DANILO PICON, MAGALYS T. PICON, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., AS NOMINEE FOR FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF ARIZONA, NEW YORK CITY ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL BOARD, NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT ADJUDICATION BUREAU, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE,
JOHN DANIELS, YVETTE “DOE” Defendants.

No. 1070/08, Motion Seq. No. 4.

Supreme Court, Queens County.

June 22, 2011.

BERNICE D. SIEGAL, Judge.

EXCERPT:

Once the issue of standing is raised by the Defendant, the burden is placed on the Plaintiff to prove, as in the instant matter, that it owns the Note underlying the action and the validity of any associated assignment (TPZ Corp. v Dabbs, 25 AD3d 787, 789 [2d Dep’t 2006]). A demonstration by the Plaintiff that it owns the Mortgage, without a showing that it also owns the Note is a nullity and any action for foreclosure based on the ownership of the mortgage alone must fail (Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 538 [2d Dept 1988]). This result is mandated because the mortgage is “but an incident to the debt which it is intended to secure,” and without more, it provides the holder with no actionable interest on which to commence a foreclosure action (Merritt v Bartholick, 36 NY 44, 45 [1867].

While a written assignment or physical transfer of the Note is sufficient to result in an implicit transfer of an associated Mortgage, an assignment of the Mortgage, without an explicit assignment of the Note, will not result in an assignment of that Note (U.S. Bank, N.A. v Collymore, 68 AD3d 752, 754 [2d Dept 2009]).

In the case before us, Plaintiff only proffers evidence that the mortgage was transferred to the Plaintiff (through MERS, as nominee for Firs National Bank of Arizona [“Arizona”]) via an Assignment of Mortgage dated January 7, 2008. It does not, critically, provide evidence that the Note itself was transferred to the Plaintiff.

The only documents the Plaintiff submits in connection with the issue of the ownership and assignment of the Note are a copy of the original Adjustable Rate Note Agreement between Arizona and the Defendant dated March 8, 2006, and a copy of an undated allonge between Arizona and the First National Bank of Nevada [“Nevada”], seemingly transferring Arizona’s interest in the Note to Nevada. Although not dated, it is only logical for the court to assume that the allonge was executed prior to any purported assignment of the Note to the Plaintiff. If we were to assume otherwise, it would imply that Arizona was assigning to Nevada a Note that it did not own (since such Note had already been purportedly assigned to the Plaintiff).

Critically, Plaintiff does not provide documents demonstrating that the Note itself was assigned to Plaintiff, such as from MERS (as nominee for Arizona), from Arizona itself, or from a third-party such as Nevada.

The only interpretation the court can adduce from such evidence is that although it is possible that Nevada may own both the Mortgage and the Note since a valid transfer of a Note (in this case through the undated allonge), effectively transfers an associated Mortgage, the assignment of the Mortgage from MERS (as nominee for Arizona) to Plaintiff, under New York law, definitively did not transfer ownership of the Note to Plaintiff.

Since the allonge indicates that the Note is the property of Nevada and not Arizona, Arizona was never in a position to assign the Note to Plaintiff. Therefore, even if Plaintiff holds the Mortgage, without evidence that it also owns the Note, it lacks standing to pursue the foreclosure action at bar. Consequently, Plaintiff’s acquisition of the Mortgage without the underlying Note is insufficient to sustain a foreclosure action and Defendant’s motion to dismiss based on the Plaintiff’s lack of standing is granted.

[…]

The other issues raised in Defendant’s Order to Show Cause including the 1) motion to dismiss due to a failure to state a cause of action under CPLR 3211, and 2) a motion to vacate the default judgment and allow an answer under CPLR 317 are deemed moot as they are subsumed or deemed irrelevant in light of this court’s decision above. Based on the forgoing, it is

ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to vacate the default judgment and dismiss the action is granted; it is further

ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to have the case dismissed with prejudice due to fraud is denied.

The foregoing constitutes the decision and order of the court.

[…]

[ipaper docId=59328003 access_key=key-118ad3g85p29i38ysxi2 height=600 width=600 /]

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST CO. AMERICAS v. PICON | NYSC Vacates JDGMT “ASMT Mortgage from MERS to Plaintiff, under New York law, definitively did not transfer ownership of the Note to Plaintiff”

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST CO. AMERICAS v. PICON | NYSC Vacates JDGMT “ASMT Mortgage from MERS to Plaintiff, under New York law, definitively did not transfer ownership of the Note to Plaintiff”


[PDF].DEUTSCHE v PICON w RePOST since the content was possibly hacked

2011 NY Slip Op 31747(U)

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS AS TRUSTEE, 9350 Waxie Way San Diego, CA 92123 Plaintiff,

v.

DANILO PICON, MAGALYS T. PICON, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., AS NOMINEE FOR FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF ARIZONA, NEW YORK CITY ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL BOARD, NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT ADJUDICATION BUREAU, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE,
JOHN DANIELS, YVETTE “DOE” Defendants.

No. 1070/08, Motion Seq. No. 4.

Supreme Court, Queens County.

June 22, 2011.

BERNICE D. SIEGAL, Judge.

EXCERPT:

Once the issue of standing is raised by the Defendant, the burden is placed on the Plaintiff to prove, as in the instant matter, that it owns the Note underlying the action and the validity of any associated assignment (TPZ Corp. v Dabbs, 25 AD3d 787, 789 [2d Dep’t 2006]). A demonstration by the Plaintiff that it owns the Mortgage, without a showing that it also owns the Note is a nullity and any action for foreclosure based on the ownership of the mortgage alone must fail (Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 538 [2d Dept 1988]). This result is mandated because the mortgage is “but an incident to the debt which it is intended to secure,” and without more, it provides the holder with no actionable interest on which to commence a foreclosure action (Merritt v Bartholick, 36 NY 44, 45 [1867].

While a written assignment or physical transfer of the Note is sufficient to result in an implicit transfer of an associated Mortgage, an assignment of the Mortgage, without an explicit assignment of the Note, will not result in an assignment of that Note (U.S. Bank, N.A. v Collymore, 68 AD3d 752, 754 [2d Dept 2009]).

In the case before us, Plaintiff only proffers evidence that the mortgage was transferred to the Plaintiff (through MERS, as nominee for Firs National Bank of Arizona [“Arizona”]) via an Assignment of Mortgage dated January 7, 2008. It does not, critically, provide evidence that the Note itself was transferred to the Plaintiff.

The only documents the Plaintiff submits in connection with the issue of the ownership and assignment of the Note are a copy of the original Adjustable Rate Note Agreement between Arizona and the Defendant dated March 8, 2006, and a copy of an undated allonge between Arizona and the First National Bank of Nevada [“Nevada”], seemingly transferring Arizona’s interest in the Note to Nevada. Although not dated, it is only logical for the court to assume that the allonge was executed prior to any purported assignment of the Note to the Plaintiff. If we were to assume otherwise, it would imply that Arizona was assigning to Nevada a Note that it did not own (since such Note had already been purportedly assigned to the Plaintiff).

Critically, Plaintiff does not provide documents demonstrating that the Note itself was assigned to Plaintiff, such as from MERS (as nominee for Arizona), from Arizona itself, or from a third-party such as Nevada.

The only interpretation the court can adduce from such evidence is that although it is possible that Nevada may own both the Mortgage and the Note since a valid transfer of a Note (in this case through the undated allonge), effectively transfers an associated Mortgage, the assignment of the Mortgage from MERS (as nominee for Arizona) to Plaintiff, under New York law, definitively did not transfer ownership of the Note to Plaintiff.

Since the allonge indicates that the Note is the property of Nevada and not Arizona, Arizona was never in a position to assign the Note to Plaintiff. Therefore, even if Plaintiff holds the Mortgage, without evidence that it also owns the Note, it lacks standing to pursue the foreclosure action at bar. Consequently, Plaintiff’s acquisition of the Mortgage without the underlying Note is insufficient to sustain a foreclosure action and Defendant’s motion to dismiss based on the Plaintiff’s lack of standing is granted.

[…]

The other issues raised in Defendant’s Order to Show Cause including the 1) motion to dismiss due to a failure to state a cause of action under CPLR 3211, and 2) a motion to vacate the default judgment and allow an answer under CPLR 317 are deemed moot as they are subsumed or deemed irrelevant in light of this court’s decision above. Based on the forgoing, it is

ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to vacate the default judgment and dismiss the action is granted; it is further

ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to have the case dismissed with prejudice due to fraud is denied.

The foregoing constitutes the decision and order of the court.

[…]

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (4)

FALSE STATEMENTS: Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu

FALSE STATEMENTS: Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu


By Lynn Szymoniak, ESQ.

False Statements

American Home Mortgage Servicing
DocX, LLC
Lender Processing Services
Sand Canyon Corporation
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Action Date: June 12, 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ

On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit issued an important and lengthy analysis of standing and real-party-in-interest issues in a foreclosure case in Veal v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, BAP No. AZ-10-1055-MkKiJu.

GSF Mortgage Corporation was the original lender in this case. Wells Fargo Bank, as Trustee for Option One Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-3, and its servicer, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., sought to set aside the automatic bankruptcy stay in order to foreclose on the Veals. The note was not endorsed to Wells Fargo or to the trust. As part of their efforts to establish standing, and real-party-in-interest status, Wells Fargo and American Home Mortgage Servicing, the servicer for the Trust, filed a mortgage assignment.

The Assignment was prepared by Docx, LLC in Alpharetta, GA, the document mill made famous by Fraud Digest, then by 60 Minutes, Reuters, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Naked Capitalism, Foreclosure Hamlet, 4closure Fraud, Stop Foreclosure Fraud, the Wall Street Journal, and many others. While Docx is now closed, its documents live on in courts and recorders offices across the country.

The Veal Assignment was signed by Tywanna Thomas and Cheryl Thomas who claimed to be officers of Sand Canyon Corporation formerly known as Option One Mortgage. From deposition testimony of Cheryl Thomas, it is known that both Cheryl and Tywanna Thomas were actually employees of Lender Processing Services, the company that owned Docx. There are many different versions of the Tywanna Thomas signature because, as we now know, the employees in Alpharetta forged each other’s names on witnessed and notarized documents.

The Assignment was signed (by someone) on November 10, 2009, but a line on the Assignment right underneath the legal description of the property states:
“Assignment Effective Date 10/13/2009.”

The closing date of the trust was October 27, 2006, almost three years prior to the Assignment effective date. Investors were told the trust would obtain actual Assignments to the Trust of the mortgages pooled in that trust by the closing date.

Dale Sugimoto, the president of Sand Canyon, said in a sworn affidavit on March 18, 2009, filed in the Ron Wilson bankruptcy case in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Case No. 10-51328, Document 52-3, that Sand Canyon does not own any residential mortgages and has no servicing rights.

To summarize:

1. Cheryl Thomas and Tywanna Thomas were not officers of Sand Canyon, as represented on the Assignment. Someone other than Tywanna Thomas and Cheryl Thomas often forged their names.

2. The Veal loan was not transferred to the Option One trust effective October 13, 2009, as represented on the Assignment.

3. Sand Canyon did not own the Veal mortgage and, therefore, had no authority to assign the mortgage to the Option One Trust. The Latin phrase – Nemo dat quod non habit – best covers this situation. Translation: one cannot give what one does not have.

Investors in this Option One trust, the Bankruptcy Judge in the Veal case, bankruptcy trustees with similar documents, homeowners and their lawyers, the SEC, and the Justice Department must all demand answers (and reparations) from the Trustee, the document custodian, the servicer and Lender Processing Servicing.


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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

IN RE VEAL | AZ 9th Circuit BAP “Reverses Stay, Wells Fargo & AHMSI Lack of Standing, PSA Fail, Assignment Fail, UCC Articles 3 & 9 Applied”

IN RE VEAL | AZ 9th Circuit BAP “Reverses Stay, Wells Fargo & AHMSI Lack of Standing, PSA Fail, Assignment Fail, UCC Articles 3 & 9 Applied”


UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY APPELLATE PANEL
OF THE NINTH CIRCUIT

In re:
HOWARD RICHARD VEAL, JR., and
SHELLI AYESHA VEAL,
Debtors.

HOWARD RICHARD VEAL, JR.;
SHELLI AYESHA VEAL,
Appellants,

v.

AMERICAN HOME MORTGAGE SERVICING,
INC.; WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., as
Trustee for Option One Mortgage
Loan Trust 2006-3 Asset-Backed
Certificates, Series 2006-3, and
its successor and/or assignees,
Appellees.

Argued and Submitted on June 18, 2010
at Phoenix, Arizona
Filed – June 10, 2011
Appeal From The United States Bankruptcy Court
for the District of Arizona

Honorable Randolph J. Haines, Bankruptcy Judge, Presiding

Before: MARKELL, KIRSCHER and JURY, Bankruptcy Judges.

EXCERPTS:

The Substantive Law Related to Notes Secured by Real Property

Real party in interest analysis requires a determination of the applicable substantive law, since it is that law which defines and specifies the wrong, those aggrieved, and the redress they may receive. 6A Federal Practice and Procedure § 1543, at 480-81 (“In order to apply Rule 17(a)(1) properly, it is necessary to identify the law that created the substantive right being asserted . . . .”). See also id. § 1544.

1. Applicability of UCC Articles 3 and 9
Here, the parties assume that the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) applies to the Note. If correct, then two articles of the UCC potentially apply. If the Note is a negotiable instrument, Article 3 provides rules governing the payment of the obligation represented by and reified in the Note.

[…]

In particular, because it did not show that it or its agent had actual possession of the Note, Wells Fargo could not establish that it was a holder of the Note, or a “person entitled to enforce” the Note. In addition, even if admissible, the final purported assignment of the Mortgage was insufficient under Article 9 to support a conclusion that Wells Fargo holds any interest, ownership or otherwise, in the Note. Put another way, without any evidence tending to show it was a “person entitled to enforce” the Note, or that it has an interest in the Note, Wells Fargo has shown no right to enforce the Mortgage securing the Note. Without these rights, Wells Fargo cannot make the threshold showing of a colorable claim to the Property that would give it prudential standing to seek stay relief or to qualify as a real party in interest.

Accordingly, the bankruptcy court erred when it granted Wells Fargo’s motion for relief from stay, and we must reverse that ruling.

[…]

AHMSI apparently conceded that Wells Fargo held the economic interest in the Note, as it filed the proof of claim asserting that it was Wells Fargo’s authorized agent. Rule 3001(b) permits such assertions, and such assertions often go unchallenged. But here the Veals did not let it pass; they affirmatively questioned AHMSI’s standing. In spite of this challenge, AHMSI presented no evidence showing any agency or other relationship with Wells Fargo and no evidence showing that either AHMSI or Wells Fargo was a “person entitled to enforce” the Note. That failure should have been fatal to its position.

[…]

IV. CONCLUSION

For all of the foregoing reasons, the bankruptcy court’s order granting Wells Fargo’s relief from stay motion is REVERSED, and the order overruling the Veals’ claim objection is VACATED and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (3)

Northern MI Judge Throws Out Foreclosure Says Note Wasn’t Assigned By MERS

Northern MI Judge Throws Out Foreclosure Says Note Wasn’t Assigned By MERS


MFI-Miami-

An interesting ruling came down from the nether regions of Northern Michigan today.  Houghton County Circuit Judge Charles Goodman ruled that a note holder lacked legal standing to execute both a foreclosure and the subsequent eviction because the originating lender Ameriquest only transferred their rights as mortgagee to MERS not their rights under the note.  Therefore, because the mortgage and note have been separated and only the mortgage was assigned, the foreclosing entity, Household Finance who MERS assigned the mortgage to, lacked the legal standing to execute the foreclosure and eviction because they did not hold the promissory note.

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As We Were Saying, eMortgage Coming To Your Town?

As We Were Saying, eMortgage Coming To Your Town?


Come hungry…close a loan electronically within 15 minutes and with doughnuts. Not like it took any longer the paper route!

Providing all the ‘errors’ and ‘mistakes’ currently happening in foreclosure land, just hope your eNote/eMortgage doesn’t get deleted by accident.

via Housing Wire:

Harry Gardner, president of SigniaDocs, said the perfect infrastructure is one that manages all mortgage documents electronically, but the number of loans in the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems’ eRegistry is about 200,000, or “a small fraction of mortgages written in the last 10 years.”

“And by eMortgage, we mean truly paperless not some hybrid of some paper and some electronic documentation,” Gardener said. “Ten years ago, we were saying mainstream eMortgage documentation was three to five years away, and I’m happy to say that mainstream eMortgage documentation is now three to five years away.”

continue reading….  Housing Wire

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eMortgages, eNotes …Get Ready For The No-DOC Zone

eMortgages, eNotes …Get Ready For The No-DOC Zone


For you to understand the plan the financial institutions have you need to grasp the following. Will MERS patterns continue? Imagine the price you will pay when these files are hacked or manipulated.

Everyone knows by now that MERS was ‘invented’ to keep costs low for the banks, reduce the risk of record-keeping errors and make it easier to keep track of loans for the banks not the borrowers. By these actions, not only has MERS eliminated crucial chain in title documents, has proven in many court cases to assign absolutely nothing because it had no power to negotiate the note but also eliminated an enormous amount of county revenues.

Last week SFF wrote about the latest invention planned to coexist with MERS called SmartSAFE, which will be used for creating, signing, storing, accessing and managing the lifecycle of electronic mortgage documents. According to Wave’s eSignSystems Executive VP Kelly Purcell, “Mortgages are sold several times throughout the life of a loan, and electronic mortgages address the problem of the ‘lost note,’ while improving efficiency in the process.”

This goes a step forward of what MERS can do today.

Will this process eliminate recording paper mortgages/deeds from county records? Eliminate fees that counties in trouble desperately need? THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS.

Still with me? Finally, according to CUinsight, a sample eNote in the form of a MRG Category 1 classified SMARTDoc, was successfully delivered to Xerox’s BlitzDocs eVault, a virtual repository that connects directly to the MERS® eRegistry and eDelivery systems, where it was electronically signed and registered.

Adding the finishing touches to permit MERS access to future eNotes? I say this is the master plan.

Looking forward to what MA John O’Brien, the Essex County register of deeds, NC Register of deeds Jeff Thigpen and NY Suffolk County, former county clerk Ed Romaine’s approach is after they read what they plan on doing to land records. If they thought it was limited to the elimination of recording fees for assignments of mortgage, they are mistaken.

Questions remain as to why replace something that has been working for so long? Why continue with MERS, a system which has failed in many ways? MERS is under investigation for fraud is it not? Why in a time where mortgage fraud is wide spread, will anyone even trust using electronic devices to manage possibly future trillions of dollars worth?

Say farewell to a tradition that has been here for well over 300 years. Eliminating ‘paper’ will put promissory notes and  mortgage related documents in great jeopardy. No computer system in the world is secure [PERIOD].

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LQQK ‘MOM’, No paper, Lost Paper, Detroyed and Misfiled Paper…The Next Wave

LQQK ‘MOM’, No paper, Lost Paper, Detroyed and Misfiled Paper…The Next Wave


Before you go down to the “New Device” take a look back when THE FLORIDA BANKER’S ASSOCIATION ADMITTED THAT NOTES ARE DESTROYED:

This is a direct quote from the Florida Banker’s Association Comments to the Supreme Court of Florida files September 30, 2009:

“It is a reality of commerce that virtually all paper documents related to a note and mortgage are converted to electronic files almost immediately after the loan is closed. Individual loans, as electronic data, are compiled into portfolios which are transferred to the secondary market, frequently as mortgage-backed securities.

The reason “many firms file lost note counts as a standard alternative pleading in the complaint” is because the physical document was deliberately eliminated to avoid confusion immediately upon its conversion to an electronic file. See State Street Bank and Trust Company v. Lord, 851 So. 2d 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003). Electronic storage is almost universally acknowledged as safer, more efficient and less expensive than maintaining the originals in hard copy, which bears the concomitant costs of physical indexing, archiving and maintaining security. It is a standard in the industry and becoming the benchmark of modern efficiency across the spectrum of commerce—including the court system.”

Now if there is no issues surrounding what everyone is shouting from their roof tops, then why integrate a new software that was suppose to have been implemented already to “Improves Efficiency & Transparency of Electronic Mortgage Transactions” within MERS itself?

THEY KNOW THEY HAVE A PROBLEM!

Now from SYS-CON on SmartSAFE

“During the foreclosure crisis of the last few years we saw many instances where the original and subsequent paperwork was lost, destroyed or misfiled when loans were bought and sold,” commented Kelly Purcell, Executive Vice President for Wave’s eSignSystems division. “Mortgages are sold several times throughout the life of a loan, and electronic mortgages address the problem of the ‘lost note,’ while improving efficiency in the process.”

This will debut during next week’s MBA National Technology in Mortgage Banking Conference and Expo 2011 (at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.).

Will this be the new system that will eventually take over MERS as MOM?

This one is both “Smart & Safe” <wink>


 

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TX Appeals Court “Raises Questions, Splitting of the Deed of Trust from the Note” MERS v. DiSANTI

TX Appeals Court “Raises Questions, Splitting of the Deed of Trust from the Note” MERS v. DiSANTI


MARK DISANTI
v.
MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.

Case No. 4:10-CV-103. United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division.

August 23, 2010.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMOS L. MAZZANT, Magistrate Judge

Pending before the Court is Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.’s 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (Dkt. #16). The Court, having considered the relevant pleadings, finds that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss should be granted.

Plaintiff filed his Original Petition in the 367th Judicial District Court of Denton County on February 8, 2010, seeking a declaratory judgment that Defendant’s lien on real property should be discharged and judicially released. On March 10, 2010, Defendant removed this case to this Court. After Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file an amended complaint. On May 22, 2010, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint (Dkt. #14).

On or about October 6, 2009, Plaintiff purchased a parcel of real property (the “Property”) located in Denton County, Texas. Plaintiff purchased the Property at a foreclosure sale, legally and properly conducted by a homeowners’ association. The homeowners’ association had foreclosed on the Property because Plaintiff’s predecessor in interest, Kenneth Y. Lee (“Lee”), had failed to pay certain assessments. At the time Lee purchased the Property, he purportedly executed a Deed of Trust in favor of Defendant, and a promissory note (the “Note”) in favor of Countrywide Home Loans.

Plaintiff sues Defendant seeking the following: (1) a decree of the Court that Defendant’s lien is invalid and a judgment quieting title in favor of Plaintiff; (2) a declaration holding that Defendant’s lien is void and of no effect; (3) if Defendant’s lien is found valid, a declaration that Plaintiff is entitled to keep the Property subject to Defendant’s lien; (4) an accounting and declaration of Plaintiff’s rights with respect to undefined liens; and (5) attorney’s fees.

On June 14, 2010, Defendant filed its second motion to dismiss (Dkt. #16). On July 14, 2010, Plaintiff filed his Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. #21). On July 14, 2010, Defendant filed a supplement to its motion to dismiss (Dkt. #20). On July 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed a reply to Defendant’s supplement (Dkt. #22). On July 20, 2010, Defendant filed a reply (Dkt. #24).

Defendant moves for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which authorizes certain defenses to be presented via pretrial motions. A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss argues that, irrespective of jurisdiction, the complaint fails to assert facts that give rise to legal liability of the defendant. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that each claim in a complaint include “a short and plain statement . . . showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The claims must include enough factual allegations “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, “[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

Rule 12(b)(6) provides that a party may move for dismissal of an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). The Court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts contained in the plaintiff’s complaint and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir. 1996). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009). “The Supreme Court recently expounded upon the Twombly standard, explaining that `[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Gonzalez, 577 F.3d at 603 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “It follows, that `where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged — but it has not `shown’ — `that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id.

In Iqbal, the Supreme Court established a two-step approach for assessing the sufficiency of a complaint in the context of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. First, the Court identifies conclusory allegations and proceeds to disregard them, for they are “not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1951. Second, the Court “consider[s] the factual allegations in [the complaint] to determine if they plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.” Id. “This standard `simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of’ the necessary claims or elements.” Morgan v. Hubert, 335 F. App’x 466, 469 (5th Cir. 2009). This evaluation will “be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

Defendant moves to dismiss all claims, asserting that Plaintiff has failed to plead facts that would support a request for declaratory relief or to quiet title. First, Plaintiff asserts a claim to quiet title. Plaintiff argues that the original payee of the Note no longer owns and holds the Note and therefore may not enforce the Deed of Trust. Plaintiff further argues that the Deed of Trust, though not void on its face, is invalid. Plaintiff’s argument centers around the allegation that the Note and Deed of Trust have been separated, with Defendant as the beneficiary under the Deed of Trust and some other entity holding the Note. Defendant moves to dismiss this cause of action because Plaintiff cannot plead sufficient facts to prevail on a trespass-to-try-title case.

“To prevail in a trespass-to-try-title action, Plaintiff must usually (1) prove a regular chain of conveyances from the sovereign, (2) establish superior title out of a common source, (3) prove title by limitations, or (4) prove title by prior possession coupled with proof that possession was not abandoned. Martin v. Amerman, 133 S.W.3d 262, 265 (Tex. 2004)(citation omitted). “The pleading rules are detailed and formal, and require a plaintiff to prevail on the superiority of his title, not on the weakness of a defendant’s title.” Id. (citation omitted).

Defendant asserts that the only way Plaintiff can extinguish Defendant’s interest in the Property is to plead and prove a trespass-to-try-title action based upon his superior title to the Property. The Court agrees. Plaintiff does not assert a superior title and he alleges no facts that would support this claim. Plaintiff merely asserts legal conclusions, and until Plaintiff pleads a proper claim to a superior title, Plaintiff’s claim is not plausible.

Although the factual situation does raise interesting questions under Texas law regarding the splitting of the Deed of Trust from the Note, this issue has not been properly presented to this Court. Even if Defendant is not the holder of the Note, Plaintiff purchased the Property at an inferior loan foreclosure and took the Property subject to superior liens. “Foreclosure does not terminate interests in the foreclosed real estate that are senior to the mortgage being foreclosed. In fact, the general rule is that the successful bidder at a junior lien foreclosure takes title subject to the prior liens.” Conversion Properties, L.L.C. v. Kessler, 994 S.W.2d 810, 813 (Tex. App.-Dallas 1999)(citations omitted). Because Plaintiff has failed to allege that he owns superior title to the Property, his claim to quiet title should be dismissed.

Plaintiff’s second claim for relief is a claim for declaratory relief. Plaintiff asserts that he is the owner of the Property and asks for a declaration that Defendant’s purported lien is void and of no effect. In the alternative, Plaintiff asserts that if it is determined that a purported senior lien is valid, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that he is entitled to keep and maintain the Property subject to such lien so long as he complies with the terms thereof. Plaintiff also seeks an accounting and a declaration as to his rights with respect to such liens.

When a declaratory judgment action filed in state court is removed to federal court, that action is, in effect, converted into one brought under the federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202. The federal Declaratory Judgment Act states, “In a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction, … any court of the United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought.” 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Federal courts have broad discretion to grant or refuse declaratory judgment. Torch, Inc. v. LeBlanc, 947 F.2d 193, 194 (5th Cir. 1991). “Since its inception, the Declaratory Judgment Act has been understood to confer on federal courts unique and substantial discretion in deciding whether to declare the rights of litigants.” Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277, 286 (1995). The Declaratory Judgment Act is “an authorization, not a command.” Public Affairs Assocs., Inc. v. Rickover, 369 U.S. 111, 112 (1962). It gives federal courts the competence to declare rights, but does not impose a duty to do so. Id.

Defendant asserts that there is no actual controversy between the parties. Defendant argues that Plaintiff has not established any current controversy that subjects him to any identifiable injury. Defendant further asserts that there is no assurance that Defendant could not become the holder of the Note prior to any attempt to sell the Property at a foreclosure. Thus, Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s request to have the lien declared void because Plaintiff cannot obtain such relief under the Declaratory Judgment Act. The Court agrees that Plaintiff cannot seek a declaration in this situation. The Court finds that there is not a controversy that requires the Court to address Defendant’s interest in the Property. Since Plaintiff has not pleaded a proper claim to quiet title, he cannot seek a declaration of the same relief. Plaintiff’s argument that the named beneficiary under a deed of trust who does not hold or own the note has no rights to enforce it, although correct, does not alter the result in this case. Whether Defendant could successfully foreclose on the Property is not before the Court because no attempts have been made to foreclose. Almost all of Plaintiff’s allegations have nothing to do with a live controversy between the parties.

However, Defendant does agree with two of Plaintiff’s allegations: that Defendant claims a superior right in the Property, and that Plaintiff has an obligation to service the lien. Plaintiff argues that, assuming for the sake of argument that Defendant’s interests are valid and enforceable, Plaintiff, as purchaser of a junior lien, still has the right to service the senior lien. Plaintiff asserts that in order to be able to service the lien, he must establish the identity of the party that holds the debt and he must have an accounting of what must be done to satisfy it.[1]

The parties are in agreement that Plaintiff would have an obligation to service the prior debt on the Property. “The purchaser takes the property charged with the primary liability for the payment of the prior mortgage and must therefore service the prior liens to prevent loss of the property by foreclosure of the prior liens.” Conversion Properties, 994 S.W.2d at 813. Defendant asserts that there is no justiciable controversy between the parties on this issue because it has agreed that Plaintiff may keep the Property if he makes the payments owed on it. The Court agrees that, with this agreement, there is no live controversy between the parties. However, the Court will require that Defendant provide to Plaintiff the identity of the holder of the Note so that Plaintiff knows to whom he needs to pay the money which is owed under the Note.

Plaintiff also asserts a claim for an accounting. Defendant moves to dismiss this claim because an accounting is an equitable remedy and not an independent cause of action. The Court agrees. Plaintiff has no cause of action that allows for an accounting, and this equitable relief should be dismissed. Likewise, Plaintiff’s claim for attorney’s fees should also be dismissed because there is no claim that survives that would allow for such an award.

It is hereby ORDERED that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.’s 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (Dkt. #16) is hereby GRANTED and Plaintiff’s claims should be DISMISSED.

It is further ORDERED that Defendant shall provide to Plaintiff, within ten (10) days of this Order, the information about the holder of the Note so that Plaintiff knows to whom he needs to pay the money which is owed to the lender. After the Court is notified that this information has been provided, a final judgment will be entered.

[1] In its supplement to the motion, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff filed a case against it in the Northern District of Texas, alleging the identical allegations, which was dismissed by the Court. See Mark Disanti v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., 4:10-cv-287-A, (N.D. Tex, Fort Worth Division). Plaintiff asserts that the Fort Worth case was settled and that was the basis for the dismissal. The cases appear to the Court to be nearly identical with the exception that Plaintiff attempted to plead a quiet title claim in this new case. However, a review of the transcript indicates that the Court was granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss because there was no live controversy between the parties.

[ipaper docId=49097228 access_key=key-16mznmm5lcw6f0uc5nt9 height=600 width=600 /]

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BLOOMBERG | Merscorp Lacks Right to Transfer Mortgages, Judge Says

BLOOMBERG | Merscorp Lacks Right to Transfer Mortgages, Judge Says


Click this Link to read the entire opinion…in case you missed it over the weekend when SFF posted this hot off the press:

NY BK Court SHREDS MERS “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER MORTGAGES” In Re: FERREL L. AGARD

By Thom Weidlich – Feb 14, 2011 3:02 PM ET

(Corrects to show parties would come before the judge to lift the automatic ban in 20th paragraph.)

Merscorp Inc., operator of the electronic-registration system that contains about half of all U.S. home mortgages, has no right to transfer the mortgages under its membership rules, a judge said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Grossman in Central Islip, New York, in a decision he said he knew would have a “significant impact,” wrote that the membership rules of the company’s Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, don’t make it an agent of the banks that own the mortgages.

“MERS’s theory that it can act as a ‘common agent’ for undisclosed principals is not supported by the law,” Grossman wrote in a Feb. 10 opinion. “MERS did not have authority, as ‘nominee’ or agent, to assign the mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.”


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NY BK Court SHREDS MERS “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER MORTGAGES” In Re: FERREL L. AGARD

NY BK Court SHREDS MERS “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER MORTGAGES” In Re: FERREL L. AGARD


In re: FERREL L. AGARD, Debtor.

Case No. 810-77338-reg

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

Filed: February 10, 2011

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Before the Court is a motion (the “Motion”) seeking relief from the automatic stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1) and (2), to foreclose on a secured interest in the Debtor’s real property located in Westbury, New York (the “Property”). The movant is Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (“Select Portfolio” or “Movant”), as servicer for U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF12, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-FF12 (“U.S. Bank”). The Debtor filed limited opposition to the Motion contesting the Movant’s standing to seek relief from stay. The Debtor argues that the only interest U.S. Bank holds in the underlying mortgage was received by way of an assignment from the Mortgage Electronic Registration System a/k/a MERS, as a “nominee” for the original lender. The Debtor’s argument raises a fundamental question as to whether MERS had the legal authority to assign a valid and enforceable interest in the subject mortgage. Because U.S. Bank’s rights can be no greater than the rights as transferred by its assignor-MERS-the Debtor argues that the Movant, acting on behalf of U.S. Bank, has failed to establish that it holds an enforceable right against the Property.1 The Movant’s initial response to the Debtor’s opposition was that MERS’s authority to assign the mortgage to U.S. Bank is derived from the mortgage itself which allegedly grants to MERS its status as both “nominee” of the mortgagee and “mortgagee of record.” The Movant later supplemented its papers taking the position that U.S. Bank is a creditor with standing to seek relief from stay by virtue of a judgment of foreclosure and sale entered in its favor by the state court prior to the filing of the bankruptcy. The Movant argues that the judgment of foreclosure is a final adjudication as to U.S. Bank’s status as a secured creditor and therefore the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits this Court from looking behind the judgment and questioning whether U.S. Bank has proper standing before this Court by virtue of a valid assignment of the mortgage from MERS.

The Court received extensive briefing and oral argument from MERS, as an intervenor in these proceedings which go beyond the arguments presented by the Movant. In addition to the rights created by the mortgage documents themselves, MERS argues that the terms of its membership agreement with the original lender and its successors in interest, as well as New York state agency laws, give MERS the authority to assign the mortgage. MERS argues that it holds legal title to mortgages for its member/lenders as both “nominee” and “mortgagee of record.” As such, it argues that any member/lender which holds a note secured by real property, that assigns that note to another member by way of entry into the MERS database, need not also assign the mortgage because legal title to the mortgage remains in the name of MERS, as agent for any member/lender which holds the corresponding note. MERS’s position is that if a MERS member directs it to provide a written assignment of the mortgage, MERS has the legal authority, as an agent for each of its members, to assign mortgages to the member/lender currently holding the note as reflected in the MERS database.

For the reasons that follow, the Debtor’s objection to the Motion is overruled and the Motion is granted. The Debtor’s objection is overruled by application of either the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, or res judicata. Under those doctrines, this Court must accept the state court judgment of foreclosure as evidence of U.S. Bank’s status as a creditor secured by the Property. Such status is sufficient to establish the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. The Motion is granted on the merits because the Movant has shown, and the Debtor has not disputed, sufficient basis to lift the stay under Section 362(d).

Although the Court is constrained in this case to give full force and effect to the state court judgment of foreclosure, there are numerous other cases before this Court which present identical issues with respect to MERS and in which there have been no prior dispositive state court decisions. This Court has deferred rulings on dozens of other motions for relief from stay pending the resolution of the issue of whether an entity which acquires its interests in a mortgage by way of assignment from MERS, as nominee, is a valid secured creditor with standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. It is for this reason that the Court’s decision in this matter will address the issue of whether the Movant has established standing in this case notwithstanding the existence of the foreclosure judgment. The Court believes this analysis is necessary for the precedential effect it will have on other cases pending before this Court.

The Court recognizes that an adverse ruling regarding MERS’s authority to assign mortgages or act on behalf of its member/lenders could have a significant impact on MERS and upon the lenders which do business with MERS throughout the United States. However, the Court must resolve the instant matter by applying the laws as they exist today. It is up to the legislative branch, if it chooses, to amend the current statutes to confer upon MERS the requisite authority to assign mortgages under its current business practices. MERS and its partners made the decision to create and operate under a business model that was designed in large part to avoid the requirements of the traditional mortgage recording process. This Court does not accept the argument that because MERS may be involved with 50% of all residential mortgages in the country, that is reason enough for this Court to turn a blind eye to the fact that this process does not comply with the law.

Facts

Procedural Background

On September 20, 2010, the Debtor filed for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. In Schedule A to the petition, the Debtor lists a joint ownership interest in the Property described as follows:

A “[s]ingle family home owned with son, deed in son’s name since 2007; used as primary residence…. Debtor was on original deed and is liable on the mortgage, therefore has equitable title. Debtor is in default of the mortgage with a principal balance of over $450,000.00. The house is worth approximately $350,000. A foreclosure sale was scheduled 9/21/10.”

According to Schedule D, the Property is valued at $350,000 and is encumbered by a mortgage in the amount of $536,920.67 held by “SPS Select Portfolio Servicing.”


On October 14, 2010, the Movant filed the Motion seeking relief from the automatic stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §362(d) to foreclose on the Property. The Motion does not state that a foreclosure proceeding had been commenced or that a judgment of foreclosure was granted prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. Nor does it mention that the Debtor holds only equitable title and does not hold legal title to the Property. Instead, Movant alleges that U.S. Bank is the “holder” of the Mortgage; that the last mortgage payment it received from the Debtor was applied to the July, 2008 payment; and that the Debtor has failed to make any post-petition payments to the Movant. Movant also asserts that as of September 24, 2010, the total indebtedness on the Note and Mortgage was $542,902.33 and the Debtor lists the value of the Property at $350,000 in its schedules. On that basis, Movant seeks entry of an order vacating the stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1) and (d)(2).

Annexed to the Motion are copies of the following documents:

  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Adjustable Rate Note, dated June 9, 2006, executed by the Debtor as borrower and listing First Franklin a Division of Na. City Bank of In. (“First Franklin”) as the lender (“Note”);
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Balloon Note Addendum to the Note, dated June 9, 2006;
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Mortgage, dated June 9, 2006 executed by the Debtor and listing First Franklin as lender, and MERS as nominee for First Franklin and First Franklin’s successors and assigns (“Mortgage”);
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Adjustable Rate and Balloon Rider, dated June 9, 2006;
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Addendum to Promissory Note and Security Agreement executed by the Debtor; and
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Assignment of Mortgage, dated February 1, 2008, listing MERS as nominee for First Franklin as assignor, and the Movant, U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF12, Mortgage Pass-through Certificates, Series 2006-FF12, as assignee (“Assignment of Mortgage”).

The Arguments of the Parties

On October 27, 2010, the Debtor filed “limited opposition” to the Motion, alleging that the Movant lacks standing to seek the relief requested because MERS, the purported assignor to the Movant, did not have authority to assign the Mortgage and therefore the Movant cannot establish that it is a bona fide holder of a valid secured interest in the Property.

The Movant responded to the Debtor’s limited opposition regarding MERS’s authority to assign by referring to the provisions of the Mortgage which purport to create a “nominee” relationship between MERS and First Franklin. In conclusory fashion, the Movant states that it therefore follows that MERS’s standing to assign is based upon its nominee status.

On November 15, 2010, a hearing was held and the Court gave both the Debtor and Movant the opportunity to file supplemental briefs on the issues raised by the Debtor’s limited opposition.

On December 8, 2010, the Movant filed a memorandum of law in support of the Motion arguing that this Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue of whether MERS had authority to assign the Mortgage, and even assuming the Court did have jurisdiction to decide this issue, under New York law the MERS assignment was valid. In support of its jurisdictional argument, the Movant advises the Court (for the first time) that a Judgement of Foreclosure and Sale (“Judgment of Foreclosure”) was entered by the state court in favor of the Movant on November 24, 2008, and any judicial review of the Judgment of Foreclosure is barred by the doctrines of res judicata, Rooker-Feldman, and judicial estoppel.2 The Movant argues that the Debtor had a full and fair opportunity to litigate these issues in state court, but chose to default, and cannot now challenge the state court’s adjudication as to the Movant’s status as a secured creditor or holder of the Note and Mortgage, or its standing to seek relief from the automatic stay in this Court. The Movant also notes that the Debtor admits in her petition and schedules that she is liable on the Mortgage, that it was in default and the subject of a foreclosure sale, and thus judicial estoppel bars her arguments to the contrary.

In addition to its preclusion arguments, on the underlying merits of its position the Movant cites to caselaw holding that MERS assignments similar to the assignment in this case, are valid and enforceable. See U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Flynn, 897 N.Y.S. 2d 855, 858 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010); Kiah v. Aurora Loan Services, LLC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121252, at *1 (D. Mass. Nov. 16, 2010); Perry v. Nat’l Default Servicing Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92907, at *1 (Dist. N.D. Cal. Aug. 20, 2010). It is the Movant’s position that the provisions of the Mortgage grant to MERS the right to assign the Mortgage as “nominee,” or agent, on behalf of the lender, First Franklin. Specifically, Movant relies on the recitations of the Mortgage pursuant to which the “Borrower” acknowledges that MERS holds bare legal title to the Mortgage, but has the right “(A) to exercise any or all those rights, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and (B) to take any action required of Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling [the Mortgage].” In addition, the Movant argues that MERS’s status as a “mortgagee” and thus its authority to assign the Mortgage is supported by the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) and New York Real Property Law (“RPL”). Movant cites to RPAPL § 1921-a which allows a “mortgagee” to execute and deliver partial releases of lien, and argues that MERS falls within the definition of “mortgagee” which includes the “current holder of the mortgage of record… or… their… agents, successors or assigns.” N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law § 1921(9)(a) (McKinney 2011). Although the definition of “mortgagee” cited to by the Movant only applies to RPAPL § 1921, Movant argues that it is a “mortgagee” vested with the authority to execute and deliver a loan payoff statement; execute and deliver a discharge of mortgage and assign a mortgage pursuant to RPL §§ 274 and 275.

In addition to its status as “mortgagee,” Movant also argues that the assignment is valid because MERS is an “agent” of each of its member banks under the general laws of agency in New York, see N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501(1) (McKinney 2011), 3 and public policy requires the liberal interpretation and judicial recognition of the principal-agent relationship. See Arens v. Shainswitt, 37 A.D.2d 274 (N.Y. App. Div. 1971), aff’d 29 N.Y.2d 663 (1971). In the instant case, Movant argues, the Mortgage appoints MERS as “nominee,” read “agent,” for the original lender and the original lender’s successors and assigns. As nominee/agent for the lender, and as mortgagee of record, Movant argues MERS had the authority to assign the Mortgage to the Movant, U.S. Bank, “in accordance with the principal’s instruction to its nominee MERS, to assign the mortgage lien to U.S. Bank….”


Finally, Movant argues that even absent a legally enforceable assignment of the Mortgage, it is entitled to enforce the lien because U.S. Bank holds the Note. The Movant argues that if it can establish that U.S. Bank is the legal holder the Note, the Mortgage by operation of law passes to the Movant because the Note and the Mortgage are deemed to be inseparable. See In re Conde-Dedonato, 391 B.R. 247 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2008). The Movant represents, but has not proven, that U.S. Bank is the rightful holder of the Note, and further argues that the assignment of the Note has to this point not been contested in this proceeding.

MERS moved to intervene in this matter pursuant to Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7024 because:

12. The Court’s determination of the MERS Issue directly affects the business model of MERS. Additionally, approximately 50% of all consumer mortgages in the United States are held in the name of MERS, as the mortgagee of record.

13. The Court’s determination of the MERS Issue will have a significant impact on MERS as well as the mortgage industry in New York and the United States.

14.MERS has a direct financial stake in the outcome of this contested matter, and any determination of the MERS Issue has a direct impact on MERS. (Motion to Intervene, ¶¶12-14).

Permission to intervene was granted at a hearing held on December 13, 2010.

In addition to adopting the arguments asserted by the Movant, MERS strenuously defends its authority to act as mortgagee pursuant to the procedures for processing this and other mortgages under the MERS “system.” First, MERS points out that the Mortgage itself designates MERS as the “nominee” for the original lender, First Franklin, and its successors and assigns. In addition, the lender designates, and the Debtor agrees to recognize, MERS “as the mortgagee of record and as nominee for ‘Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns'” and as such the Debtor “expressly agreed without qualification that MERS had the right to foreclose upon the premises as well as exercise any and all rights as nominee for the Lender.” (MERS Memorandum of Law at 7). These designations as “nominee,” and “mortgagee of record,” and the Debtor’s recognition thereof, it argues, leads to the conclusion that MERS was authorized as a matter of law to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank.

Although MERS believes that the mortgage documents alone provide it with authority to effectuate the assignment at issue, they also urge the Court to broaden its analysis and read the documents in the context of the overall “MERS System.” According to MERS, each participating bank/lender agrees to be bound by the terms of a membership agreement pursuant to which the member appoints MERS to act as its authorized agent with authority to, among other things, hold legal title to mortgages and as a result, MERS is empowered to execute assignments of mortgage on behalf of all its member banks. In this particular case, MERS maintains that as a member of MERS and pursuant to the MERS membership agreement, the loan originator in this case, First Franklin, appointed MERS “to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee on First Franklin’s behalf, and on behalf of First Franklin’s successors and assigns.” MERS explains that subsequent to the mortgage’s inception, First Franklin assigned the Note to Aurora Bank FSB f/k/a Lehman Brothers Bank (“Aurora”), another MERS member. According to MERS, note assignments among MERS members are tracked via self-effectuated and self-monitored computer entries into the MERS database. As a MERS member, by operation of the MERS membership rules, Aurora is deemed to have appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee. Aurora subsequently assigned the Note to U.S. Bank, also a MERS member. By operation of the MERS membership agreement, U.S. Bank is deemed to have appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee. Then, according to MERS, “U.S. Bank, as the holder of the note, under the MERS Membership Rules, chose to instruct MERS to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank prior to commencing the foreclosure proceedings by U.S. Bank.” (Affirmation of William C. Hultman, ¶ 12).

MERS argues that the express terms of the mortgage coupled with the provisions of the MERS membership agreement, is “more than sufficient to create an agency relationship between MERS and lender and the lender’s successors in interest” under New York law and as a result establish MERS’s authority to assign the Mortgage. (MERS Memorandum of Law at 7).

On December 20, 2010, the Debtor filed supplemental opposition to the Motion. The Debtor argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine should not preclude judicial review in this case because the Debtor’s objection to the Motion raises issues that could not have been raised in the state court foreclosure action, namely the validity of the assignment and standing to lift the stay. The Debtor also argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not apply because the Judgment of Foreclosure was entered by default. Finally, she also argues that the bankruptcy court can review matters “which are void or fraudulent on its face.” See In re Ward, 423 B.R. 22 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2010). The Debtor says that she is “alleging questionable, even possibly fraudulent conduct by MERS in regards to transferring notes and lifting the stay.” (Debtor’s Supplemental Opposition at 3).

The Movant filed supplemental papers on December 23, 2010 arguing that the Motion is moot because the Property is no longer an asset of the estate as a result of the Chapter 7 Trustee’s “report of no distribution,” and as such, the Section 362(a) automatic stay was dissolved upon the entry of a discharge on December 14, 2010. See Brooks v. Bank of New York Mellon, No. DKC 09-1408, 2009 WL 3379928, at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 16, 2009); Riggs Nat’l Bank of Washington, D.C. v. Perry, 729 F.2d 982, 986 (4th Cir. 1984).

The Movant also maintains that Rooker-Feldman does apply to default judgments because that doctrine does not require that the prior judgment be a judgment “on the merits.” Charchenko v. City of Stillwater, 47 F.3d 981, 983 n.1 (8th Cir. 1995); see also Kafele v. Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss, L.P.A., No. 04-3659, 2005 WL 3528921, at *2-3 (6th Cir. Dec. 22, 2005); In re Dahlgren, No. 09-18982, 2010 WL 5287400, at *1 (D.N.J. Dec. 17, 2010). The Movant points out that the Debtor seems to be confusing the Rooker-Feldman doctrine with issue and claim preclusion and that the Debtor has misapplied Chief Judge Craig’s ruling in In re Ward.

Discussion

As a threshold matter, this Court will address the Movant’s argument that this Motion has been mooted by the entry of the discharge order.

Effect of the Chapter 7 discharge on the automatic stay

Section 362(c) provides that:

Except as provided in subsections (d), (e), (f), and (h) of this section–

(1) the stay of an act against property of the estate under subsection (a) of this section continues until such property is no longer property of the estate;

(2) the stay of any other act under subsection (a) of this section continues until the earliest of–
(A) the time the case is closed;

(B) the time the case is dismissed; or

(C) if the case is a case under chapter 7 of this title concerning an individual or a case under chapter 9, 11, 12, or 13 of this title, the time a discharge is granted or denied;

11 U.S.C. § 362(c) (emphasis added).

Pursuant to Section 362(c)(1), the automatic stay which protects “property of the estate,” as opposed to property of the debtor, continues until the property is no longer property of the estate regardless of the entry of the discharge. The provision of the statute relied upon by the Movant for the proposition that the automatic stay terminates upon the entry of a discharge, relates only to the stay of “any other act under subsection(a), “, i.e., an act against property that is not property of the estate, i.e., is property “of the debtor.” The relationship between property of the estate and property of the debtor is succinctly stated as follows:

Property of the estate consists of all property of the debtor as of the date of the filing of the petition. 11 U.S.C. § 541. It remains property of the estate until it has been exempted by the debtor under § 522, abandoned by the trustee under § 554(a), or sold by the trustee under § 363. If property of the estate is not claimed exempt, sold, or abandoned by the trustee, it is abandoned to the debtor at the time the case is closed if the property was scheduled under § 521(1). If the property is not scheduled by the debtor and is not otherwise administered, it remains property of the estate even after the case has been closed.

If the property in question is property of the estate, it remains subject to the automatic stay until it becomes property of the debtor and until the earlier of the time the case was closed, the case is dismissed, or a discharge is granted or denied in a chapter 7 case.

In re Pullman, 319 B.R. 443, 445 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 2004).

Movant’s position seems to be that the Chapter 7 Trustee’s filing of a “report of no distribution,” otherwise known as a “no asset report,” effectuated an abandonment of the real property at issue in this case, and therefore the Property has reverted back to the Debtor. However, Movant fails to cite the relevant statute. Section 554(c) provides that “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, any property scheduled under section 521(1) of this title not otherwise administered at the time of the closing of a case is abandoned to the debtor and administered for purposes of section 350 of this title.” 11 U.S.C. § 554(c) (emphasis added); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 6007. Cases interpreting Section 554(c) hold that the filing of a report of no distribution does not effectuate an abandonment of estate property. See, e.g., In re Israel, 112 B.R. 481, 482 n.3 (Bankr. D. Conn. 1990) (“The filing of a no-asset report does not close a case and therefore does not constitute an abandonment of property of the estate.”) (citing e.g., Zlogar v. Internal Revenue Serv. (In re Zlogar), 101 B.R. 1, 3 n.3 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1989); Schwaber v. Reed (In re Reed), 89 B.R. 100, 104 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 1988); 11 U.S.C. § 554(c)).

Because the real property at issue in this case has not been abandoned it remains property of the estate subject to Section 362(a) unless and until relief is granted under Section 362(d).

Rooker-Feldman and res judicata4

The Movant argues that U.S. Bank’s status as a secured creditor, which is the basis for its standing in this case, already has been determined by the state court and that determination cannot be revisited here. The Movant relies on both the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and res judicata principles to support this position.

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is derived from two Supreme Court cases, Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983), which together stand for the proposition that lower federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to sit in direct appellate review of state court judgments. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a narrow jurisdictional doctrine which is distinct from federal preclusion doctrines. See McKithen v. Brown, 481 F.3d 89, 96-97 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005), and Hoblock v. Albany County Board of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 85 (2d Cir. 2005)). In essence, the doctrine bars “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments. Rooker-Feldman does not otherwise override or supplant preclusion doctrine or augment the circumscribed doctrines that allow federal courts to stay or dismiss proceedings in deference to state-court actions.” Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 283.

The Second Circuit has delineated four elements that must be satisfied in order for Rooker-Feldman to apply:

First, the federal-court plaintiff must have lost in state court. Second, the plaintiff must “complain [] of injuries caused by [a] state-court judgment[.]” Third, the plaintiff must “invit[e] district court review and rejection of [that] judgment [].” Fourth, the state-court judgment must have been “rendered before the district court proceedings commenced”-i.e., Rooker-Feldman has no application to federal-court suits proceeding in parallel with ongoing state-court litigation. The first and fourth of these requirements may be loosely termed procedural; the second and third may be termed substantive.

McKithen, 481 F.3d at 97 (internal citation omitted and alteration in original) (quoting Hoblock,422 F.3d at 85).

In a case with facts similar to the instant case, Chief Judge Craig applied the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to overrule a debtor’s objection to a motion for relief from the automatic stay. See In re Ward, 423 B.R. 22 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2010). In In re Ward, a foreclosure sale was conducted prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. When the successful purchaser sought relief from stay in the bankruptcy case to proceed to evict the debtor, the debtor opposed the motion. The debtor argued that the foreclosure judgment was flawed because “no original note was produced”, “the mortgage was rescinded”, “the plaintiff in the action doesn’t exist” or “was not a proper party to the foreclosure action”, and that “everything was done irregularly and underneath [the] table.” In re Ward, 423 B.R. at 27. Chief Judge Craig overruled the debtor’s opposition and found that each of the elements of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine were satisfied:

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies in this case because the Debtor lost in the state court foreclosure action, the Foreclosure Judgment was rendered before the Debtor commenced this case, and the Debtor seeks this Court’s review of the Foreclosure Judgment in the context of her opposition to the Purchaser’s motion for relief from the automatic stay. The injury complained of, i.e., the foreclosure sale to the Purchaser, was “caused by” the Foreclosure Judgment because “the foreclosure [sale] would not have occurred but-for” the Foreclosure Judgment. Accordingly, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not permit this Court to disregard the Foreclosure Judgment.

In re Ward, 423 B.R. at 28 (citations omitted and alteration in original).

In the instant case, the Debtor argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not apply because the Judgment of Foreclosure was entered on default, not on the merits. She also argues that Rooker-Feldman should not apply because she is alleging that the Judgment of Foreclosure was procured by fraud in that the MERS system of mortgage assignments was fraudulent in nature or void. However, this Court is not aware of any exception to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine for default judgments, or judgments procured by fraud and the Court will not read those exceptions into the rule. See Salem v. Paroli, 260 B.R. 246, 254 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (applying Rooker-Feldman to preclude review of state court default judgment); see also Lombard v. Lombard, No. 00-CIV-6703 (SAS), 2001 WL 548725, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 2001) (applying Rooker-Feldman to preclude review of stipulation of settlement executed in connection with state court proceeding even though applicant argued that the stipulation should be declared null and void because he was under duress at the time it was executed).

The Debtor also argues that Rooker-Feldman does not apply in this case because she is not asking this Court to set aside the Judgment of Foreclosure, but rather is asking this Court to make a determination as to the Movant’s standing to seek relief from stay. The Debtor argues that notwithstanding the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the bankruptcy court must have the ability to determine the standing of the parties before it.

Although the Debtor says she is not seeking affirmative relief from this Court, the net effect of upholding the Debtor’s jurisdictional objection in this case would be to deny U.S. Bank rights that were lawfully granted to U.S. Bank by the state court. This would be tantamount to a reversal which is prohibited by Rooker-Feldman.

Even if Rooker-Feldman were found not to apply to this determination, the Court still would find that the Debtor is precluded from questioning U.S. Bank’s standing as a secured creditor under the doctrine of res judicata. The state court already has determined that U.S. Bank is a secured creditor with standing to foreclose and this Court cannot alter that determination in order to deny U.S. Bank standing to seek relief from the automatic stay.

The doctrine of res judicata is grounded in the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. It prevents a party from re-litigating any issue or defense that was decided by a court of competent jurisdiction and which could have been raised or decided in the prior action. See Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 789 (2d Cir. 1994) (applying New York preclusion rules); Swiatkowski v. Citibank, No. 10-CV-114, 2010 WL 3951212, at *14 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 7, 2010) (citing Waldman v. Vill. of Kiryas Joel, 39 F.Supp.2d 370, 377 (S.D.N.Y. 1999)). Res judicata applies to judgments that were obtained by default, see Kelleran v. Andrijevic, 825 F.2d 692, 694-95 (2d Cir. 1987), but it may not apply if the judgment was obtained by extrinsic fraud or collusion. “Extrinsic fraud involves the parties’ ‘opportunity to have a full and fair hearing, ‘ while intrinsic fraud, on the other hand, involves the ‘underlying issue in the original lawsuit.'” In re Ward, 423 B.R. at 29. The Debtor’s assertions that the MERS system of assignments may have been fraudulent is more appropriately deemed an intrinsic fraud argument. The Debtor has not alleged any extrinsic fraud in the procurement of the Judgment of Foreclosure which prevented a full and fair hearing before the state court.

As a result, the Court finds that the Judgment of Foreclosure alone is sufficient evidence of the Movant’s status as a secured creditor and therefore its standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. On that basis, and because the Movant has established grounds for relief from stay under Section 362(d), the Motion will be granted.

MERS

Because of the broad applicability of the issues raised in this case the Court believes that it is appropriate to set forth its analysis on the issue of whether the Movant, absent the Judgment of Foreclosure, would have standing to bring the instant motion. Specifically MERS’s role in the ownership and transfer of real property notes and mortgages is at issue in dozens of cases before this Court. As a result, the Court has deferred ruling on motions for relief from stay where the movants’ standing may be affected by MERS’s participation in the transfer of the real property notes and mortgages. In the instant case, the issues were resolved under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and the application of res judicata. Most, if not all, of the remainder of the “MERS cases” before the Court cannot be resolved on the same basis. For that reason, and because MERS has intervened in this proceeding arguing that the validity of MERS assignments directly affects its business model and will have a significant impact on the national mortgage industry, this Court will give a reasoned opinion as to the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the stay and how that standing is affected by the fact that U.S. Bank acquired its rights in the Mortgage by way of assignment from MERS.

Standing to seek relief from the automatic stay

The Debtor has challenged the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. Standing is a threshold issue for a court to resolve. Section 362(d) states that relief from stay may be granted “[o]n request of a party in interest and after notice and a hearing.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(d). The term “party in interest” is not defined in the Bankruptcy Code, however the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has stated that “[g]enerally the ‘real party in interest’ is the one who, under the applicable substantive law, has the legal right which is sought to be enforced or is the party entitled to bring suit.” See Roslyn Savings Bank v. Comcoach (In re Comcoach), 698 F.2d 571, 573 (2d Cir. 1983). The legislative history of Section 362 “suggests that, notwithstanding the use of the term ‘party in interest’, it is only creditors who may obtain relief from the automatic stay.” Id. at 573-74. (citing H.R. Rep. No. 95-595, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 175, reprinted in 1978 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad. News 5787, 6136); see also Greg Restaurant Equip. And Supplies v. Toar Train P’ship (In re Toar Train P’ship), 15 B.R. 401, 402 (Bankr. D. Vt.1981) (finding that a judgment creditor of the debtor was not a “party in interest” because the judgment creditor was not itself a direct creditor of the bankrupt).

Using the standard established by the Second Circuit, this Court must determine whether the Movant is the “one who, under applicable substantive law, has the legal right” to enforce the subject Note and Mortgage, and is therefore a “creditor” of this Debtor. See In re Toar, 15 B.R. at 402; see also In re Mims, 438 B.R. 52, 55 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2010). The Bankruptcy Code defines a “creditor” as an “entity that has a claim against the debtor that arose at the time of or before the order for relief….” 11 U.S.C. § 101(10). “Claim” is defined 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….” 11 U.S.C. § 101(5)(A). In the context of a lift stay motion where the movant is seeking to commence or continue with an action to foreclose a mortgage against real property, the movant must show that it is a “party in interest” by showing that it is a creditor with a security interest in the subject real property. See Mims, 438 B.R. at 57 (finding that as movant “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”). Cf. Brown Bark I L.P. v. Ebersole (In re Ebersole), 440 B.R. 690, 694 (Bankr. W.D. Va. 2010) (finding that movant seeking relief from stay must prove that it is the holder of the subject note in order to establish a ‘colorable claim’ which would establish standing to seek relief from stay).

Noteholder status

In the Motion, the Movant asserts U.S. Bank’s status as the “holder” of the Mortgage. However, in order to have standing to seek relief from stay, Movant, which acts as the representative of U.S. Bank, must show that U.S. Bank holds both the Mortgage and the Note. Mims, 438 B.R. at 56. Although the Motion does not explicitly state that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note, it is implicit in the Motion and the arguments presented by the Movant at the hearing. However, the record demonstrates that the Movant has produced no evidence, documentary or otherwise, that U.S. Bank is the rightful holder of the Note. Movant’s reliance on the fact that U.S. Bank’s noteholder status has not been challenged thus far does not alter or diminish the Movant’s burden to show that it is the holder of the Note as well as the Mortgage.
Under New York law, Movant can prove that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note by providing the Court with proof of a written assignment of the Note, or by demonstrating that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note endorsed over to it. See, eg., LaSalle Bank N.A. v. Lamy, 824 N.Y.S.2d 769, 2006 WL 2251721, at *1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 7, 2006). The only written assignment presented to the Court is not an assignment of the Note but rather an “Assignment of Mortgage” which contains a vague reference to the Note. Tagged to the end of the provisions which purport to assign the Mortgage, there is language in the Assignment stating “To Have and to Hold the said Mortgage and Note, and also the said property until the said Assignee forever, subject to the terms contained in said Mortgage and Note.” (Assignment of Mortgage (emphasis added)). Not only is the language vague and insufficient to prove an intent to assign the Note, but MERS is not a party to the Note and the record is barren of any representation that MERS, the purported assignee, had any authority to take any action with
respect to the Note. Therefore, the Court finds that the Assignment of Mortgage is not sufficient to establish an effective assignment of the Note.

By MERS’s own account, it took no part in the assignment of the Note in this case, but merely provided a database which allowed its members to electronically self-report transfers of the Note. MERS does not confirm that the Note was properly transferred or in fact whether anyone including agents of MERS had or have physical possession of the Note. What remains undisputed is that MERS did not have any rights with respect to the Note and other than as described above, MERS played no role in the transfer of the Note.

Absent a showing of a valid assignment of the Note, Movant can demonstrate that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note if it can show that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note endorsed to its name. See In re Mims, 423 B.R. at 56-57. According to the evidence presented in this matter the manner in which the MERS system is structured provides that, “[w]hen the beneficial interest in a loan is sold, the promissory note is [] transferred by an endorsement and delivery from the buyer to the seller [sic], but MERS Members are obligated to update the MERS® System to reflect the change in ownership of the promissory note….” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 6). However, there is nothing in the record to prove that the Note in this case was transferred according to the processes described above other than MERS’s representation that its computer database reflects that the Note was transferred to U.S. Bank. The Court has no evidentiary basis to find that the Note was endorsed to U.S. Bank or that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note. Therefore, the Court finds that Movant has not satisfied its burden of showing that U.S. Bank, the party on whose behalf Movant seeks relief from stay, is the holder of the Note.

Mortgagee status

The Movant’s failure to show that U.S. Bank holds the Note should be fatal to the Movant’s standing. However, even if the Movant could show that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note, it still would have to establish that it holds the Mortgage in order to prove that it is a secured creditor with standing to bring this Motion before this Court. The Movant urges the Court to adhere to the adage that a mortgage necessarily follows the same path as the note for which it stands as collateral. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Perry, 875 N.Y.S.2d 853, 856 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2009). In simple terms the Movant relies on the argument that a note and mortgage are inseparable. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. 271, 274 (1872). While it is generally true that a mortgage travels a parallel path with its corresponding debt obligation, the parties in this case have adopted a process which by its very terms alters this practice where mortgages are held by MERS as “mortgagee of record.” By MERS’s own account, the Note in this case was transferred among its members, while the Mortgage remained in MERS’s name. MERS admits that the very foundation of its business model as described herein requires that the Note and Mortgage travel on divergent paths. Because the Note and Mortgage did not travel together, Movant must prove not only that it is acting on behalf of a valid assignee of the Note, but also that it is acting on behalf of the valid assignee of the Mortgage.5

MERS asserts that its right to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank in this case, and in what it estimates to be literally millions of other cases, stems from three sources: the Mortgage documents; the MERS membership agreement; and state law. In order to provide some context to this discussion, the Court will begin its analysis with an overview of mortgage and loan processing within the MERS network of lenders as set forth in the record of this case.

In the most common residential lending scenario, there are two parties to a real property mortgage-a mortgagee, i.e., a lender, and a mortgagor, i.e., a borrower. With some nuances and allowances for the needs of modern finance this model has been followed for hundreds of years. The MERS business plan, as envisioned and implemented by lenders and others involved in what has become known as the mortgage finance industry, is based in large part on amending this traditional model and introducing a third party into the equation. MERS is, in fact, neither a borrower nor a lender, but rather purports to be both “mortgagee of record” and a “nominee” for the mortgagee. MERS was created to alleviate problems created by, what was determined by the financial community to be, slow and burdensome recording processes adopted by virtually every state and locality. In effect the MERS system was designed to circumvent these procedures. MERS, as envisioned by its originators, operates as a replacement for our traditional system of public recordation of mortgages.

Caselaw and commentary addressing MERS’s role in the mortgage recording and foreclosure process abound. See Christopher L. Peterson, Foreclosure, Subprime Mortgage Lending, and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, 78 U. Cin. L. Rev. 1359 (2010). In a 2006 published opinion, the New York Court of Appeals described MERS system as follows:

In 1993, the MERS system was created by several large participants in the real estate mortgage industry to track ownership interests in residential mortgages.

Mortgage lenders and other entities, known as MERS members, subscribe to the MERS system and pay annual fees for the electronic processing and tracking of ownership and transfers of mortgages. Members contractually agree to appoint MERS to act as their common agent on all mortgages they register in the MERS system.

The initial MERS mortgage is recorded in the County Clerk’s office with ‘Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.’ named as the lender’s nominee or mortgagee of record on the instrument. During the lifetime of the mortgage, the beneficial ownership interest or servicing rights may be transferred among MERS members (MERS assignments), but these assignments are not publicly recorded; instead they are tracked electronically in MERS’s private system. In the MERS system, the mortgagor is notified of transfers of servicing rights pursuant to the Truth in Lending Act, but not necessarily of assignments of the beneficial interest in the mortgage.

Merscorp, Inc., v. Romaine, 8 N.Y.3d 90 (N.Y. 2006) (footnotes omitted).

In the words of MERS’s legal counsel, “[t]he essence of MERS’ business is to hold legal title to beneficial interests under mortgages and deeds of trust in the land records. The MERS® System is designed to allow its members, which include originators, lenders, servicers, and investors, to accurately and efficiently track transfers of servicing rights and beneficial ownership.” (MERS Memorandum of Law at 5). The MERS® System “… eliminate[s] the need for frequent, recorded assignments of subsequent transfers.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 4). “Prior to MERS, every time a loan secured by a mortgage was sold, the assignee would need to record the assignment to protect the security interest. If a servicing company serviced the loan and the servicing rights were sold,-an event that could occur multiple times during the life of a single mortgage loan-multiple assignments were recorded to ensure that the proper servicer appeared in the land records in the County Clerk’s office.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 4-5).

“When the beneficial interest in a loan is sold, the promissory note is still transferred by an endorsement and delivery from the buyer to the seller, but MERS Members are obligated to update the MERS® System to reflect the change in ownership of the promissory note…. So long as the sale of the note involves a MERS Member, MERS remains the named mortgagee of record, and continues to act as the mortgagee, as the nominee for the new beneficial owner of the note (and MERS’ Member). The seller of the note does not and need not assign the mortgage because under the terms of that security instrument, MERS remains the holder of title to the mortgage, that is, the mortgagee, as the nominee for the purchaser of the note, who is then the lender’s successor and/or assign.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 6). “At all times during this process, the original mortgage or an assignment of the mortgage to MERS remains of record in the public land records where the security real estate is located, providing notice of MERS’s disclosed role as the agent for the MERS Member lender and the lender’s successors and assigns.” (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶9).

MERS asserts that it has authority to act as agent for each and every MERS member which claims ownership of a note and mortgage registered in its system. This authority is based not in the statutes or caselaw, but rather derives from the terms and conditions of a MERS membership agreement. Those terms and conditions provide that “MERS shall serve as mortgagee of record with respect to all such mortgage loans solely as a nominee, in an administrative capacity, for the beneficial owner or owners thereof from time to time.” (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶5). MERS “holds the legal title to the mortgage and acts as the agent or nominee for the MERS Member lender, or owner of the mortgage loan.” (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶6). According to MERS, it is the “intent of the parties… for MERS to serve as the common nominee or agent for MERS Member lenders and their successors and assigns.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 19) (emphasis added by the Court). “Because MERS holds the mortgage lien for the lender who may freely transfer its interest in the note, without the need for a recorded assignment document in the land records, MERS holds the mortgage lien for any intended transferee of the note.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 15) (emphasis added by the Court). If a MERS member subsequently assigns the note to a non-MERS member, or if the MERS member which holds the note decides to foreclose, only then is an assignment of the mortgage from MERS to the noteholder documented and recorded in the public land records where the property is located. (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶12).

Before commenting on the legal effect of the MERS membership rules or the alleged “common agency” agreement created among MERS members, the Court will review the relevant portions of the documents presented in this case to evaluate whether the documentation, on its face, is sufficient to prove a valid assignment of the Mortgage to U.S. Bank.

The Mortgage

First Franklin is the “Lender” named in the Mortgage. With reference to MERS’s role in the transaction, the Mortgage states:

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

(Mortgage at 1 (emphasis added by the Court)).

The Mortgage also purports to contain a transfer to MERS of the Borrower’s (i.e., the Debtor’s) rights in the subject Property as follows:

BORROWER’S TRANSFER TO LENDER OF RIGHTS IN THE PROPERTY

[The Borrower] mortgage[s], grant[s] and convey[s] the Property to MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors in interest) and its successors in interest subject to the terms of this Security Instrument. This means that, by signing this Security Instrument, [the Borrower is] giving Lender those rights that are stated in this Security Instrument and also those rights that Applicable Law gives to lenders who hold mortgage on real property. [The Borrower is] giving Lender these rights to protect Lender from possible losses that might result if [the Borrower] fail[s] to [comply with certain obligations under the Security Instrument and accompanying Note.]

[The Borrower] understand[s] and agree[s] that MERS holds only legal title to the rights granted by [the Borrower] in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for Lender and Lenders’s successors and assigns) has the right: (A) to exercise any or all those rights, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and (B) to take any action required of Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.

[The Borrower gives] MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors in interest), rights in the Property…

(Mortgage at 3) (emphasis added).

The Assignment of Mortgage references the Mortgage and defines the “Assignor” as “‘Mers’ Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., 2150 North First Street, San Jose, California 95131, as nominee for First Franklin, a division of National City Bank of IN, 2150 North First Street San Jose, California 95153.” (Emphasis added by the Court). The “Assignee” is U.S. Bank.

Premised on the foregoing documentation, MERS argues that it had full authority to validly execute the Assignment of Mortgage to U.S. Bank on February 1, 2008, and that as of the date the foreclosure proceeding was commenced U.S. Bank held both the Note and the Mortgage. However, without more, this Court finds that MERS’s “nominee” status and the rights bestowed upon MERS within the Mortgage itself, are insufficient to empower MERS to effectuate a valid assignment of mortgage.

There are several published New York state trial level decisions holding that the status of “nominee” or “mortgagee of record” bestowed upon MERS in the mortgage documents, by itself, does not empower MERS to effectuate an assignment of the mortgage. These cases hold that MERS may not validly assign a mortgage based on its nominee status, absent some evidence of specific authority to assign the mortgage. See Bank of New York v. Mulligan, No. 29399/07, 2010 WL 3339452, at *7 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 25, 2010); One West Bank, F.S.B. v. Drayton, 910 N.Y.S.2d 857, 871 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010); Bank of New York v. Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d 821, 824 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (the “party who claims to be the agent of another bears the burden of proving the agency relationship by a preponderance of the evidence”); HSBC Bank USA v. Yeasmin, No. 34142/07, 2010 WL 2089273, at *3 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 24, 2010); HSBC Bank USA v. Vasquez, No. 37410/07, 2009 WL 2581672, at *3 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 21, 2010); LaSalle Bank N.A. v. Lamy, 824 N.Y.S.2d 769, 2006 WL 2251721, at *2 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 7, 2006) (“A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee.”). See also MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (“MERS’s only right is to record the mortgage. Its designation as the ‘mortgagee of record’ in the document does not change or expand that right…”). But see US Bank, N.A. v. Flynn, 897 N.Y.S.2d 855 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (finding that MERS’s “nominee” status and the mortgage documents give MERS authority to assign); Crum v. LaSalle Bank, N.A., No. 2080110, 2009 WL 2986655, at *3 (Ala. Civ. App., Sept. 18, 2009) (finding MERS validly assigned its and the lender’s rights to assignee); Blau v. America’s Servicing Company, et al., No. CV-08-773-PHX-MHM, 2009 WL 3174823, at *8 (D. Ariz. Sept. 29, 2009) (finding that assignee of MERS had standing to foreclose).

In LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute, No. 41583/07, 2010 WL 3359552, at *2 (N.Y. Sup. Aug. 26, 2010), the court analyzed the relationship between MERS and the original lender and concluded that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves. The court stated:

MERS… recorded the subject mortgage as “nominee” for FFFC. The word “nominee” is defined as “[a] person designated to act in place of another, usu. in a very limited way” or “[a] party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 1076 [8th ed 2004]). “This definition suggests that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves.” (Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 289 Kan 528, 538 [2009]). The Supreme Court of Kansas, in Landmark National Bank, 289 Kan at 539, observed that:

The legal status of a nominee, then, depends on the context of the relationship of the nominee to its principal. Various courts have interpreted the relationship of MERS and the lender as an agency relationship. See In re Sheridan, 2009 WL631355, at *4 (Bankr. D. Idaho, March 12, 2009) (MERS “acts not on its own account. Its capacity is representative.”); Mortgage Elec. Registrations Systems, Inc. v. Southwest, 2009 Ark. 152 -, 301 SW3d 1, 2009 WL 723182 (March 19, 2009) (“MERS, by the terms of the deed of trust, and its own stated purposes, was the lender’s agent”); La Salle Nat. Bank v. Lamy, 12 Misc.3d 1191[A], at *2 [Sup Ct, Suffolk County 2006])… (“A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee.”).

LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute, No. 41583/07, 2010 WL 3359552, at *2; see also Bank of New York v. Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d 821, 823 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (nominee is “‘[a] person designated to act in place of another, usually in a very limited way.'”) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary)).

In LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute the court concluded that MERS must have some evidence of authority to assign the mortgage in order for an assignment of a mortgage by MERS to be effective. Evidence of MERS’s authority to assign could be by way of a power of attorney or some other document executed by the original lender. See Bouloute, 2010 WL 3359552, at *1; Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d at 823 (“‘To have a proper assignment of a mortgage by an authorized agent, a power of attorney is necessary to demonstrate how the agent is vested with the authority to assign the mortgage.'”) (quoting HSBC Bank USA, NA v. Yeasmin, 866 N.Y.S.2d 92 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2008)).

Other than naming MERS as “nominee”, the Mortgage also provides that the Borrower transfers legal title to the subject property to MERS, as the Lender’s nominee, and acknowledges MERS’s rights to exercise certain of the Lender’s rights under state law. This too, is insufficient to bestow any authority upon MERS to assign the mortgage. In Bank of New York v. Alderazi, the court found “[t]he fact that the borrower acknowledged and consented to MERS acting as nominee of the lender has no bearing on what specific powers and authority the lender granted MERS.” Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d at 824. Even if it did bestow some authority upon MERS, the court in Alderazi found that the mortgage did not convey the specific right to assign the mortgage.

The Court agrees with the reasoning and the analysis in Bouloute and Alderazi, and the other cases cited herein and finds that the Mortgage, by naming MERS a “nominee,” and/or “mortgagee of record” did not bestow authority upon MERS to assign the Mortgage.

The MERS membership rules

According to MERS, in addition to the alleged authority granted to it in the Mortgage itself, the documentation of the Assignment of Mortgage comports with all the legal requirements of agency when read in conjunction with the overall MERS System. MERS’s argument requires that this Court disregard the specific words of the Assignment of Mortgage or, at the very least, interpret the Assignment in light of the overall MERS System of tracking the beneficial interests in mortgage securities. MERS urges the Court to look beyond the four corners of the Mortgage and take into consideration the agency relationship created by the agreements entered into by the lenders participating in the MERS System, including their agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions of membership.

MERS has asserted that each of its member/lenders agrees to appoint MERS to act as its agent. In this particular case, the Treasurer of MERS, William C. Hultman, declared under penalty of perjury that “pursuant to the MERS’s Rules of Membership, Rule 2, Section 5… First Franklin appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee on First Franklin’s behalf, and on behalf of First Franklin’s successors and assigns.” (Affirmation of William C. Hultman, ¶7).

However, Section 5 of Rule 2, which was attached to the Hultman Affirmation as an exhibit, contains no explicit reference to the creation of an agency or nominee relationship. Consistent with this failure to explicitly refer to the creation of an agency agreement, the rules of membership do not grant any clear authority to MERS to take any action with respect to the mortgages held by MERS members, including but not limited to executing assignments. The rules of membership do require that MERS members name MERS as “mortgagee of record” and that MERS appears in the public land records as such. Section 6 of Rule 2 states that “MERS shall at all times comply with the instructions of the holder of mortgage loan promissory notes,” but this does not confer any specific power or authority to MERS.

State law

Under New York agency laws, an agency relationship can be created by a “manifestation of consent by one person to another that the other shall act on his behalf and subject to his control, and the consent by the other to act.” Meisel v. Grunberg, 651 F.Supp.2d 98, 110 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (citing N.Y. Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Tradeline, L.L.C., 266 F.3d 112, 122 (2d Cir.2001)).

‘Such authority to act for a principal may be actual or apparent.’… Actual authority arises from a direct manifestation of consent from the principal to the agent…. The existence of actual authority ‘depends upon the actual interaction between the putative principal and agent, not on any perception a third party may have of the relationship.’

Meisel v. Grunberg, 651 F.Supp.2d at 110 (citations omitted).

Because MERS’s members, the beneficial noteholders, purported to bestow upon MERS interests in real property sufficient to authorize the assignments of mortgage, the alleged agency relationship must be committed to writing by application of the statute of frauds. Section 5-703(2) of the New York General Obligations Law states that:

An estate or interest in real property, other than a lease for a term not exceeding one year, or any trust or power, over or concerning real property, or in any manner relating thereto, cannot be created, granted, assigned, surrendered or declared, unless by act or operation of law, or by a deed or conveyance in writing, subscribed by the person creating, granting, assigning, surrendering or declaring the same, or by his lawful agent, thereunto authorized by writing.

See N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-703(1) (McKinney 2011); Republic of Benin v. Mezei, No. 06 Civ. 870 (JGK), 2010 WL 3564270, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 9, 2010); Urgo v. Patel, 746 N.Y.S.2d 733 (N.Y. App. Div. 2002) (finding that unwritten apparent authority is insufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds) (citing Diocese of Buffalo v. McCarthy, 91 A.D.2d 1210 (4th Dept. 1983)); see also N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501 (McKinney 2011) (“‘agent’ means a person granted authority to act as attorney-in-fact for the principal under a power of attorney…”). MERS asks this Court to liberally interpret the laws of agency and find that an agency agreement may take any form “desired by the parties concerned.” However, this does not free MERS from the constraints of applicable agency laws.

The Court finds that the record of this case is insufficient to prove that an agency relationship exists under the laws of the state of New York between MERS and its members. According to MERS, the principal/agent relationship among itself and its members is created by the MERS rules of membership and terms and conditions, as well as the Mortgage itself. However, none of the documents expressly creates an agency relationship or even mentions the word “agency.” MERS would have this Court cobble together the documents and draw inferences from the words contained in those documents. For example, MERS argues that its agent status can be found in the Mortgage which states that MERS is a “nominee” and a “mortgagee of record.” However, the fact that MERS is named “nominee” in the Mortgage is not dispositive of the existence of an agency relationship and does not, in and of itself, give MERS any “authority to act.” See Steinbeck v. Steinbeck Heritage Foundation, No. 09-18360cv, 2010 WL 3995982, at *2 (2d Cir. Oct. 13, 2010) (finding that use of the words “attorney in fact” in documents can constitute evidence of agency but finding that such labels are not dispositive); MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (designation as the ‘mortgagee of record’ does not qualify MERS as a “mortgagee”). MERS also relies on its rules of membership as evidence of the agency relationship. However, the rules lack any specific mention of an agency relationship, and do not bestow upon MERS any authority to act. Rather, the rules are ambiguous as to MERS’s authority to take affirmative actions with respect to mortgages registered on its system.

In addition to casting itself as nominee/agent, MERS seems to argue that its role as “mortgagee of record” gives it the rights of a mortgagee in its own right. MERS relies on the definition of “mortgagee” in the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 1921 which states that a “mortgagee” when used in the context of Section 1921, means the “current holder of the mortgage of record… or their agents, successors or assigns.” N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. L. § 1921 (McKinney 2011). The provisions of Section 1921 relate solely to the discharge of mortgages and the Court will not apply that definition beyond the provisions of that section in order to find that MERS is a “mortgagee” with full authority to perform the duties of mortgagee in its own right. Aside from the inappropriate reliance upon the statutory definition of “mortgagee,” MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best.

Adding to this absurdity, it is notable in this case that the Assignment of Mortgage was by MERS, as nominee for First Franklin, the original lender. By the Movant’s and MERS’s own admission, at the time the assignment was effectuated, First Franklin no longer held any interest in the Note. Both the Movant and MERS have represented to the Court that subsequent to the origination of the loan, the Note was assigned, through the MERS tracking system, from First Franklin to Aurora, and then from Aurora to U.S. Bank. Accordingly, at the time that MERS, as nominee of First Franklin, assigned the interest in the Mortgage to U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank allegedly already held the Note and it was at U.S. Bank’s direction, not First Franklin’s, that the Mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank. Said another way, when MERS assigned the Mortgage to U.S. Bank on First Franklin’s behalf, it took its direction from U.S. Bank, not First Franklin, to provide documentation of an assignment from an entity that no longer had any rights to the Note or the Mortgage. The documentation provided to the Court in this case (and the Court has no reason to believe that any further documentation exists), is stunningly inconsistent with what the parties define as the facts of this case.

However, even if MERS had assigned the Mortgage acting on behalf of the entity which held the Note at the time of the assignment, this Court finds that MERS did not have authority, as “nominee” or agent, to assign the Mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.

This Court finds that MERS’s theory that it can act as a “common agent” for undisclosed principals is not support by the law. The relationship between MERS and its lenders and its distortion of its alleged “nominee” status was appropriately described by the Supreme Court of Kansas as follows: “The parties appear to have defined the word [nominee] in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant-their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time.” Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2010).

Conclusion

For all of the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Motion in this case should be granted. However, in all future cases which involve MERS, the moving party must show that it validly holds both the mortgage and the underlying note in order to prove standing before this Court.

Dated: Central Islip, New York February 10, 2011
Hon. Robert E. Grossman, Bankruptcy Judge

——–
Notes:

1. The Debtor also questions whether Select Portfolio has the authority and the standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. The Movant argues that Select Portfolio has standing to bring the Motion based upon its status as “servicer” of the Mortgage, and attaches an affidavit of a vice president of Select Portfolio attesting to that servicing relationship. Caselaw has established that a mortgage servicer has standing to seek relief from the automatic stay as a party in interest. See, e.g., Greer v. O’Dell, 305 F.3d 1297 (11th Cir. 2002); In re Woodberry, 383 B.R. 373 (Bankr. D.S.C. 2008). This presumes, however, that the lender for whom the servicer acts validly holds the subject note and mortgage. Thus, this Decision will focus on whether U.S. Bank validly holds the subject note and mortgage.

2. The Judgment of Foreclosure names the Debtor and an individual, Shelly English, as defendants. Shelly English is the Debtor’s daughter-in-law. At a hearing held on December 13, 2010, the Debtor’s counsel stated that he “believed” the Debtor transferred title to the Property to her son, Leroy English, in 2007. This is consistent with information provided by the Debtor in her petition and schedules. Leroy English, however, was not named in the foreclosure action. No one in this case has addressed the issue of whether the proper parties were named in the foreclosure action. However, absent an argument to the contrary, this Court can only presume that the Judgment of Foreclosure is a binding final judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction.

3. Movant cites to New York General Obligations Law for the proposition that “an agency agreement may take any form ‘desired by the parties concerned.'” The direct quote “desired by the parties concerned” seems to be attributed to the General Obligations Law citation, however, the Court could find no such language in the current version of § 5-1501(1). That provision, rather, defines an agent as “a person granted authority to act as attorney-in-fact for the principal under a power of attorney, and includes the original agent and any co-agent or successor agent. Unless the context indicates otherwise, an ‘agent’ designated in a power of attorney shall mean ‘attorney-in-fact’ for the purposes of this title. An agent acting under a power of attorney has a fiduciary relationship with the principal.” N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501(1) (McKinney 2011) (emphasis added).

4. Because the Debtor’s objection is overruled under Rooker-Feldman and res judicata, the Court will not address the merits of the Movant’s judicial estoppel arguments.

5. MERS argues that notes and mortgages processed through the MERS System are never “separated” because beneficial ownership of the notes and mortgages are always held by the same entity. The Court will not address that issue in this Decision, but leaves open the issue as to whether mortgages processed through the MERS system are properly perfected and valid liens. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. at 274 (finding that an assignment of the mortgage without the note is a nullity); Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2009) (“[I]n the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable”).

in re: AGARD New York Bankruptcy Case

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Why Mortgage-Backed Securities Aren’t (Backed by Securities): How MERS Toasted the Banks

Why Mortgage-Backed Securities Aren’t (Backed by Securities): How MERS Toasted the Banks


L. Randall Wray

Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, University of Missouri–Kansas City
Posted: December 30, 2010 08:35 AM

In a series of pieces I have argued that MERS, a creation of the mortgage banking industry, has effectively destroyed the institution of private property in America. Ironically, MERS was created to facilitate quick and easy and cheap securitization of mortgages — what are called mortgage-backed securities. In fact, what it did was to eliminate any backing of the securities by mortgages. Of the total securitized asset universe, something like $7 trillion are (supposedly) backed by residential mortgages. However, MERS helped to delink the securities from the mortgages. At best, they are unsecured debt — there is no property backing the securities. What this means is that foreclosure is not permitted. As I have said before, it is likely that most or even all foreclosures occurring in the US are illegal seizures of property — home thefts. We are talking about 100,000 completed home thefts per month, with another 250,000 new foreclosures started to steal homes every month. Projections are that 13 million homes will have been “foreclosed” (read: stolen) by 2012.

Worse, from the perspective of the banks, they’ve got to take back all the fraudulent MBSs, most of which are toxic.

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WaPO: First, the electronic mortgage superhighway. Then, the pileup.

WaPO: First, the electronic mortgage superhighway. Then, the pileup.


Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 2, 2011

In the early 1990s, the biggest names in the mortgage industry hatched a plan for a new electronic clearinghouse that would transform the home loan business – and unlock billions of dollars of new investments and profits.

At the time, mortgage documents were moved almost exclusively by hand and mail, a throwback to an era in which people kept stock certificates, too. That made it hard for banks to bundle home loans and sell them to investors. By contrast, a central electronic clearinghouse would allow the companies to transfer thousands of mortgages instantaneously, greasing the wheels of a system in which loans could be bought and sold repeatedly and quickly.

“Assignments are creatures of 17th-century real property law; they do not coexist easily with high-volume, late 20th-century secondary mortgage market transactions,” Phyllis K. Slesinger, then senior director of investor relations for the Mortgage Bankers Association, wrote in paper explaining the system.

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John O’Brien, the Essex County register of deeds, isn’t buying it, and neither should you

John O’Brien, the Essex County register of deeds, isn’t buying it, and neither should you


Our View: Avoiding another mortgage mess

The Salem News Thu Dec 16, 2010, 06:00 AM EST

They did such a good job depressing the housing market and sending the economy into a tailspin, why not trust the banking cabal with keeping track of all property titles?

John O’Brien, the Essex County register of deeds, isn’t buying it, and neither should you.

O’Brien, of Lynn, is in the forefront of a national effort to challenge the policies and practices of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. (MERS). The agency was established in 1995 by a group of banking conglomerates including Bank of America, Countrywide Home Loans and Wells Fargo, to keep track of loans issued against property titles — a task previously performed by the public registries of deeds.

In a Nov. 18 letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley, O’Brien alleged that MERS “has failed to pay the proper recording fees required under Massachusetts statute when a lender assigns a mortgage to another entity.” And this week Coakley announced that she will join her colleagues in several other states in an investigation to see whether MERS is skirting laws regarding such transactions.

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OK CIV. APPEALS COURT REVERSAL “CONFLICTS IN NOTE OWNERSHIP”, “MERS BIFURCATION” BAC HOME LOANS fka COUNTRYWIDE v. White

OK CIV. APPEALS COURT REVERSAL “CONFLICTS IN NOTE OWNERSHIP”, “MERS BIFURCATION” BAC HOME LOANS fka COUNTRYWIDE v. White


Via: Brian Davies

IN THE COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA. DIVISION I.

BAC HOME LOANS SERVICING, L.P.
f/k/a COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS

v.

RONALD R. WHITE and TERI L. WHITE

Excerpt:

Therefore, in Oklahoma it is not possible to bifurcate the security interest from the note. An assignment of the mortgage to one other than the holder of the note is no effect.

[…]

The record on summary judgment in the present case contains conflicting evidence as to the ownership of the note. The note, in which the White’s ppromised to pay a sum certain to the order of Lender, is a negotiable instrument pursuant to 12A O.S.2001 30104(a).

[…]

The note in the record appears to be indorsed to Countrywide Document Custody Services, a division of Treasury Ban, NA; we are unable to determine from the record submitted to us that the instrument was later indoresed in blank and transferred to BAC.

Continue below to read the research this judge has done…

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Read more on Bifurcation from James McGuire and Alvie Campbell below

“OREO COOKIE”: How They Bifuricated Our Mortgage Loan 101

© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (8)

The Big Lie: MERS Mortgages in Massachusetts by Jamie Ranney, Esq.

The Big Lie: MERS Mortgages in Massachusetts by Jamie Ranney, Esq.


by Jamie Ranney, Esq.
Jamie Ranney, PC
4 Thirty Acres Lane
Nantucket, MA 02554
jamie@nantucketlaw.pro
508-228-9224

This memo will focus on MERS-designated mortgages in Massachusetts.

In this author’s opinion two (2) things are evident after a survey of Massachusetts law.

First, MERS cannot be a valid “mortgagee” under Massachusetts law and thus MERS designated mortgages are invalid in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This is because MERS-designated mortgages by definition “split” the security instrument (the mortgage) from the debt (the promissory note) when they are signed. This “split” invalidates the mortgage under Massachusetts law. Where the security interest is invalid upon the signing of the mortgage, MERS cannot occupy the legal position of a “mortgagee” under Massachusetts law no matter what language MERS inserts into their mortgages that purports to give them the legal position of “mortgagee”. Since MERSdesignated mortgages are invalid at their inception, it follows logically therefore that MERS mortgages are not legally capable of being recorded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by its Registers of Deeds.

Second, even if a MERS-designated mortgage were found to be a valid security instrument in Massachusetts, each and every assignment of the mortgage and note “behind” a MERS-designated mortgage must be recorded on the public land records of the Commonwealth in order to comply with the Massachusetts recording statute at M.G.L. c. 183, s. 4 which requires that “conveyances of an estate” be recorded to be valid. A mortgage is a “conveyance of an estate” under Massachusetts law. Since MERS-designated mortgages exist for the primary purpose of holding “legal” title on the public land records while the “beneficial” interest is transferred and sold multiple times (and a mortgage cannot exist without a note under Massachusetts law), MERS-mortgages unlawfully avoid recording fees due the Commonwealth for the transfer(s) of interests under MERS-designated mortgages.

“If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.”1

Continue reading below…

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© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (4)

MERS BIFURCATED THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE, NOW THERE IS TROUBLE!

MERS BIFURCATED THE NOTE AND MORTGAGE, NOW THERE IS TROUBLE!


DinSFLA

This is what we have been saying from day 1. By using MERS they have split the Note and Mortgage= “Bifurcate”.

By not assigning from the Originator to the Sponsor this is where lies the problem. Instead they transferred the notes to the Trusts in ___________________________ name? Which leaves this a Bearer instrument.

So by maintaining the notes in a bearer name, each step must have been documented and assigned according to the PSA. If these were securitized, question is did the true sale ever happen? Bottom Line.

Delivery & Acceptance Must Happen


Nearly all Pooling and Servicing Agreements require that On the Closing Date, the Purchaser will assign to the Trustee pursuant to the Pooling and Servicing Agreement all of its right, title and interest in and to the Mortgage Loans and its rights under this Agreement (to the extent set forth in Section 15), and the Trustee shall succeed to such right, title and interest in and to the Mortgage Loans and the Purchaser’s rights under this Agreement (to the extent set forth in Section 15). Also, an Assignment of Mortgage must accompany each note and this almost never happens.

We believe nearly every single loan transferred was transferred to the Trust in blank name. That is to say the actual loans were apparently not, as of either the cut-off or closing dates, assigned to the Trust as required by the PSA.

Quite the can of worms. Anyone who says that the banks will fix all this in a few months is seriously delusional.

I am not a pro, finance guru and that is why there is a comment section below. But I do have common sense and I smell scam.

Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry …each state is different. Eliminate Electronic Recordings PERIOD!

One of the best videos I have seen on this crisis.

MORTGAGE POOL SECURITIZATION CHART

RELATED LINKS:

SECURITIZATION 101

.

MERS 101

© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in assignment of mortgage, bifurcate, chain in title, deed of trust, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosures, mbs, MERS, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC.Comments (4)

AMICUS BRIEF FILED FOR LANDMARK MASSACHUSETTES CASES IBANEZ & LaRACE EXPOSES FORECLOSURE FRAUD

AMICUS BRIEF FILED FOR LANDMARK MASSACHUSETTES CASES IBANEZ & LaRACE EXPOSES FORECLOSURE FRAUD


Update 1/7/2011:

BREAKING NEWS: AFFIRMED MASSIVE VICTORY RULING FOR HOMEOWNERS “IBANEZ, LaRACE”

I have personally read this Amicus Brief and seen the exhibits and this is Explosive!!

This is a must read for any defense attorney and judges!

“Marie,

This is without question the most important decision so far in the war against the unlawful and fraudulent conduct of the originators, securitizers, out-source-providers, default servicers, and their so-called lawyers! The Judge articulates the business models we are dealing with better than anyone has done in any opinion, article or brief. I am sure your work contributed greatly to the education of the court and for that you should be highly commended. This Judge really and truly got it! It is the perfect outline of the transactional requirements and debunks every bogus argument that the other side has been advancing for year”.

O. MAX GARNDER III-

Dear Damian,

I have attached a sampling from my Amicus Brief filed on Friday, October 1, 2010 with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the landmark cases that are presently on appeal from the Massachusetts Land Court styled:  U.S. Bank v. Ibanez and its companion case, Wells Fargo Bank v. LaRace.

My brief reveals groundbreaking evidence that Antonio Ibanez’s loan was most likely securitized twice – a hidden fact unknown until now.

Moreover, the Assignment of Mortgage allegedly conveying the Ibanez loan to U.S. Bank, executed by “robo-signer” Linda Green, violated the Pooling and Servicing Agreement and other Trust documents.

Finally I expose the fact that U.S. Bank, who bought the Ibanez property at foreclosure for $94,350, sold it on December 15, 2008 for $0.00.  That’s right, they foreclosed on Ibanez’s property so that they could give it away!

With respect to Mark and Tammy LaRace, I am happy to report that through the efforts of Attorney Glenn F. Russell, Jr. and myself, the LaRaces moved back into their home in January of this year, two and a half years post-foreclosure!

My Amicus Brief reveals that Wells Fargo Bank’s own documents prove that they did not have the authority to foreclose on the LaRaces.  Therefore, the Assignment of Mortgage, Power of Attorney, Affidavit, and Foreclosure Deed executed by “robo-signer” Cindi Ellis were all unauthorized.

Wells Fargo Bank’s recent statement that it does not have the same “document” problem that GMAC, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America have admitted to is simply not true.  I have audited many, many foreclosure files where Wells Fargo Bank employees and their agents have manufactured false documents to prosecute wrongful foreclosures such as in the LaRaces’ case.

I would encourage everyone to go to my website and make a donation of $125.00 or more which will allow me to e-mail a complete copy of my Amicus Brief together with the Exhibits that document the fraud.  Although I undertook this effort on a pro bono basis, I will have a printing bill that could amount to about $5,000.  Therefore, I would greatly appreciate some assistance.

CONSUMERS

My Amicus Brief will explain why your mortgage servicing company must hire “document execution teams” to create the paper trail needed to foreclose.

ANALYSTS

My Amicus Brief is a roadmap that will show you how to use the documentary evidence to prove the underlying fraud in foreclosure cases.

ATTORNEYS

My Amicus Brief will teach you how to frame the issues so that you can go toe-to-toe with “tall building lawyers.”

JUDGES

My Amicus Brief will educate you so that your courtrooms do not become “crime scenes” as creditors’ attorneys ask you to sanitize and validate their false and fraudulent foreclosure documents.

Respectfully,

Marie

Marie McDonnell, CFE
Truth In Lending Audit & Recovery Services, LLC

Mortgage Fraud and Forensic Analyst

Certified Fraud Examiner

http://truthinlending.net/

30 Main Street, Rear
P.O. Box 2760
Orleans, MA 02653
Tel. (508) 255-8829
Cell (508) 292-5555
Fax (508) 255-9626


UPDATE: 10/13/2010 As Filed

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© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (5)

NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS

NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS


NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS

By DinSFLA

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc (MERS) has a very long history. The beginning stages have remained a mystery until now.

In 1989, Brian Hershkowitz developed the “Whole Loan Book Entry” concept while serving as a director for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). In 1990, he first introduced this concept to seven different industry groups; Document Custodian, Originators, Servicers, Title Insurers, County Recorders, Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) and Warehouse/Interim Lenders. The reception was very positive and it was viewed as a very useful recording system to be used for how equity and debt securities could be identified and managed.

In 1991, Mr. Hershkowtiz published Farming It Out in Mortgage Banking Magazine. His main discussion in this article is primarily about getting the opinion of the experts in the technology outsourcing service industry. In 1992, Mr. Hershkowitz published another article called Cutting Edge Solutions in Mortgage Banking Magazine. In this particular article he mentions the actual meeting that took place at the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA) headquarters with many key players that are known today as some of MERSCORP’s shareholders, such as, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this meeting they discussed a “System” that will bring changes in mortgage records.

Mr. Hershkowitz went on to become President and COO of LandSafe Credit, a leading settlement service provider that was a subsidiary of Countrywide. Mr. Hershkowitz also spent several years serving Countrywide in the areas of strategic planning and executive management.

In 2001, Mr. Hershkowitz became Executive Vice President at Fidelity National Information Services (FNIS) and President of its mortgage and information services division. His responsibilities included management of the Company’s data offerings, including public records information, credit reporting information, flood hazard compliance data, real estate tax information and collateral valuation services. He left FNIS in November of 2006 to become Chief Executive Officer of Maximum Value Group, a consulting firm focused on providing advice to private equity and other market participants in the area of banking and mortgages.

ENTER THE X-FILES

MERS has evolved into a totally different purpose today.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of MERSCORP Inc., located at 1595 Spring Hill Rd Ste 310 Vienna, VA 22182.

MERS was founded by the mortgage industry. MERS tracks “changes” in the ownership of the beneficial and servicing interests of mortgage loans as they are bought and sold among MERS members or others. Simultaneously, MERS acts as the “mortgagee” of record in a “nominee” capacity (a form of agency) for the beneficial owners of these loans.

To ensure widespread acceptance within the industry, MERS sought to have security instruments modified to contain MERS as the original mortgagee (MOM) language. MERS began to change decades of business practices after the two biggest mortgage funders in the U.S. the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Ferderal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) modified their Uniform Security Instruments to include MOM language. Their approval opened the doors to incorporate MERS into loans at origination.

Soon after, U.S. government agencies like the Veterans Administration, Federal Housing administration and Government National Mortgage Association (Ginne Mae), and several state housing agencies followed both Fannie/Freddie to approve MERS.

More than 60 percent of all newly-originated mortgages are registered in MERS. Its mission is to register every mortgage loan in the United States on the MERS System. Since 1997, more than 65 million home mortgages have been assigned a Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) and have been registered on the MERS System.

The mortgage-backed security (MBS) sector tested the viability of MERS because a substantial number of mortgages are securitized in the secondary market. In February 1999, Lehman Brothers was the first company to include MERS registered loans in a MBS.

Moody’s Investor Service issued an independent Structured Finance special report  on MERS and it’s impact of MBS transactions and found that where the securitzer used MERS, new assignments of mortgages to the trustee of MBS transactions were not necessary.

Since MERS is a privately owned data system and not public, all mortgages and assignments must be recorded in order to perfect a lien. Since they failed to record assignments when these loans often traded ownership several times before any assignment was created, the legal issue is apparent. MERS may have destroyed the public land records by breaking the chain of title to millions of homes.

IN MERS CEO’S OWN WORDS

In or around the summer of 1997, MERSCORP President and CEO R.K. Arnold wrote, “Yes, There is life on MERS” Mr. Arnold stated, “Some county recorders have expressed concerns that MERS will eliminate their offices nationwide or destroy the public land records by breaking the chain of title. As implemented, MERS will not create a break in the chain of title, and, because MERS is premised on an assignment recorded in the public land records, MERS cannot work without county recorders.”

In this same article Mr. Arnold also states “The sheer volume of transfers between servicing companies and the resulting need to record assignments caused a heavy drag on the secondary market. Loan servicing can trade several times before even the first assignment in a chain is recorded, leaving the public land records clogged with unnecessary assignments. Sometimes these assignments are recorded in the wrong sequence, clouding title to the property”. Mr. Arnold never mentions the fact that the mortgage notes have been securitized, thereby becoming “negotiable securities” under the Uniform Commercial Code.

In an interview for The New York Times, Mr. Arnold said, “that his company had benefited not only banks, but also millions of borrowers who could not have obtained loans without the money-saving efficiencies MERS brought to the mortgage trade.”

Mr. Arnold went on to say that, ” far from posing a hurdle for homeowners, MERS had helped reduce mortgage fraud and imposed order on a sprawling industry where, in the past, lenders might have gone out of business and left no contact information for borrowers seeking assistance.”

“We’re not this big bad animal,” Mr. Arnold said. “This crisis that we’ve had in the mortgage business would have been a lot worse without MERS.”

Unfortunately, even a simple search in the Florida Land Records proves the opposite to be the case. Researchers have  easily found affidavits of lost assignments actually stating, “the said mortgage was assigned to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., from “XXXXXXX”, the original of the said assignment to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., was lost, misplaced or destroyed before same could be placed of record with the Florida Land Records County Clerk’s office; That, “XXXXXXX”, it’s successors and/or assignee is no longer in business/or do not respond to our request for a duplicate assignment, and therefore, a duplicate original of said assignment cannot be obtained.”

According to affidavits such as these, not only have the borrowers lost contact with the lenders, but the same is true that MERS did as well.

On September 25, 2009, Mr. R.K. Arnold was deposed in Alabama. Mr. Arnold admitted MERS does not have a beneficial interest in any loan, does not loan money and does not suffer a default if monies are not paid. On November 11, 2009, William C. Hultman was deposed in Alabama and made the same admissions.

Yet again, researchers have easily located affidavits recorded in the Florida Land Records stating “That said Deed of Trust has not been assigned to any other party and that MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, Inc. is the current holder and owner of the Note and Deed of Trust in question.”

NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS

Aside from not recording assignments, Mr. Arnold failed to mention that the certifying officers given authority to execute sensitive loan documents would not be paid employees of MERS. This raises the critical legal question as to how one can act as a certified officer and execute any equitable interest on behalf of any security instruments without being an employee of MERS.

On April 7, 2010, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, MERS Treasurer and Secretary William C. Hultman gave an oral sworn video/telephone deposition in the case of Bank Of New York v. Ukpe.:

Q Do the assistant secretaries — first off, are
you a salaried employee of MERS?
A No.

Q Are you a salaried employee of MERS Corp,
Inc.?
A Yes.

Q Are any of the employees of MERS, Inc.
salaried employees?
A I don’t understand your question.

Q Does anyone get a paycheck, if they are an
employee of MERS, Inc., do they get a paycheck from
Mercer, Inc.?
A There is no MERS, Inc.

Q I thought, sir, there’s a company that was
formed January 1, 1999, Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. Does it have paid employees?
A No, it does not.

Q Does it have employees?
A No.

Q Does MERS have any employees?
A Did they ever have any? I couldn’t hear you.

Q Does MERS have any employees currently?
A No.

Q In the last five years has MERS had any
employees?
A No.

<SNIP>

Q How many assistant secretaries have you
appointed pursuant to the April 9, 1998 resolution; how
many assistant secretaries of MERS have you appointed?
A I don’t know that number.

Q Approximately?
A I wouldn’t even begin to be able to tell you
right now.

Q Is it in the thousands?
A Yes.

Q Have you been doing this all around the
country in every state in the country?
A Yes.

Q And all these officers I understand are unpaid
officers of MERS?
A Yes.

Q And there’s no live person who is an employee
of MERS that they report to, is that correct, who is an employee?
A There are no employees of MERS.

If so, how does anyone have any authority to sign security instruments encumbered by any loan documents, if these certifying officers are not paid employees and never attend corporate meetings in the capacity as Vice President, Assistant Secretary, etc. with Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc..

COURTS FIND ISSUES WITH MERS

Federal and state judges across America are realizing that the mortgage industry’s nominee is backfiring.

In Mr. Arnold’s own words, “For these servicing companies to perform their duties satisfactorily, the note and mortgage were bifurcated. The investor or its designee held the note and named the servicing company as mortgagee, a structure that became standard.” What has become a satisfactory standard structure for the mortgage industry has not been found by many courts to be legally sufficient to foreclose upon the property.

Again, MERS only acts as nominee for the mortgagee of record for any mortgage loan registered on the computer system MERS maintains, called the MERS System. MERS cannot negotiate a security instrument. Therefore, MERS certifying officers cannot have legal standing to assign what MERS does not own or hold.

The Supreme Court of New York Nassau County:
Bank of New York Mellon V. Juan Mojica Index No: 26203/09

Justice Thomas A. Adams stated, “Not only has plaintiff failed to establish MERS’ right as a nominee for purposes of recording to assign the mortgage, more importantly, no effort has been made to establish the authority of MERS, a non-party to the note, to transfer its ownership.”

The Supreme Court of Maine:
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Saunders, No. 09-640, 2010 WL 3168374,
(Me. August 12, 2010) The Court explains that the only rights conveyed to MERS in either the Saunders’ mortgage or the corresponding promissory note are bare legal title to the property for the sole purpose of recording the mortgage and the corresponding right to record the mortgage with the Registry of Deeds. This comports with the limited role of a nominee. A nominee is a “person designated to act in place of another, usu[ally] in a very limited way,” or a “party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others or who receives and distributes funds for the benefit of others.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1149 (9th ed. 2009).

In Hawkins, No. BK-S-07-13593-LBR, 2009 WL 901766
The Court found that the deed of trust “attempts to name MERS as both beneficiary and a nominee” but held that MERS was not the beneficiary, as it had “no rights whatsoever to any payments, to any servicing rights, or to any of the properties secured by the loans.”

In Re: Walker, Case No. 10-21656-E-11 Eastern District of CA Bankruptcy court rules MERS has NO actionable interest in title. “Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law.” “MERS could not, as a matter of law, have transferred the note to Citibank from the original lender, Bayrock Mortgage Corp.” The Court’s ruled that MERS and Citibank are not the real parties in interest.

In re Vargas, 396 B.R. at 517-19. Judge Bufford found that the witness called to testify as to debt and default was incompetent. All the witness could testify was that he had looked at the MERS computerized records. The witness was unable to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence, particularly Rule 803, as applied to computerized records in the Ninth Circuit. See id. at 517-20. “The low level employee could really only testify that the MERS screen shot he reviewed reflected a default. That really is not much in the way of evidence, and not nearly enough to get around the hearsay rule.”

FRAUD ON THE COURT

In US Bank v. Harpster the Law Offices Of David J. Stern committed fraud on the court by the evidence based on the Assignment of Mortgage that was created and notarized on December 5, 2007. However, that purported creation/notarization date was facially impossible: the stamp on the notary was dated May 19, 2012. Since Notary commissions only last four years in Florida (see F .S. Section 117.01 (l)), the notary stamp used on this instrument did not even exist until approximately five months after the purported date on the Assignment.

The Court specifically finds that the purported Assignment did not exist at the time of filing of this action; that the purported Assignment was subsequently created and the execution date and notarial date were fraudulently backdated, in a purposeful, intentional effort to mislead the Defendant and this Court. The Court rejects the Assignment and finds that is not entitled to introduction in evidence for any purpose. The Court finds that the Plaintiff does not have standing to bring its action.

The Court dismissed this case with prejudice.

In Duval County, Florida another foreclosure case was dismissed with prejudice for fraud on the court. In JPMorgan V. Pocopanni, the Court found that Fishman & Shapiro representing JPMorgan had actual knowledge at all times that the Complaint, the Assignment, and the Motion for Substitution were all false. The Court found that by clear and convincing evidence WAMU, Chase and Shapiro & Fishman committed fraud on this court.

Both these cases involved Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. assignments.

FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS

Two RICO Class Action lawsuits have commenced against Foreclosure Law Firms and MERSCORP for fabricating and forging documents that are entered into courts as evidence in order to have standing to foreclose. Unknown to judges and the borrowers, they accept these documents because they are executed under perjury of the law. These “tromp l’oeil” actions have finally surfaced and the courts has taking notice.

The lack of supervision and managing of MERS “Robo-Signers” has led to a national frenzy of fabrication, forgery and certifying officers wearing multiple corporate hats. Anyone who compares signatures of these certifying officers will see a major problem with forgery in hundreds of thousands affidavits and assignments which creates an enormous dark cloud of title defects to millions of homes across the US.

On August 10, 2010 Florida attorney general Bill McCollum announced that he is investigating three foreclosure law firms for allegedly providing fraudulent assignments and affidavits relating in foreclosure cases.

In a deposition taken in December 2009, 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 and many homes may have been unlawfully foreclosed on.

On September 20, 2010, GMAC halted foreclosures in 23 different states. Two of the three firms being investigated by the Florida attorney general, the Law Office of Marshall C. Watson and the Law Offices of David J. Stern PA, have represented GMAC in foreclosure proceedings.

This is not limited to only GMAC Mortgage. There are many hundreds of thousands of these same documents that are being created by many foreclosure law firms across the nation.

University of Utah law professor Christopher L. Peterson has raised the issue that MERS should be regarded as a debt collector. He argues that some of MERS’ methods are just the sort of deceptive practices that ought to be regulated under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U. S. C. §1692(a),(j).

CONCLUSION

Finally in May, 2009, Mr. Arnold said in Mortgage Technology Magazine, “Every system in the mortgage industry can switch MERS registry on or off at will,” referencing that both the Obama administration and Congressional leaders are aware of this.

President Obama and Congressional leaders it is time to permanently switch MERS lifeless device off!

Not until MERS became the primary focus for challenges to legal standing in foreclosure courts as reported by the alternative media, have the main stream media and the mortgage industry have begun to realize that property records cross the United States have become totally unreliable.

It has taken more than a decade for the courts to recognize that MERS has become a mortgage backfire system leaving clouded titles in over 65 million loans since 1997.

Courts across the nation must comply with the law.  Any documents submitted to the courts regarding property ownership should be assumed to be nothing but smoke in a mirror.

No, Mr. Arnold, there’s no life at MERS.


DinSFLA, “nominee” of stopforeclosurefraud.com, a blog on Foreclosure Fraud.

© 2010 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved. www.StopForeclosureFraud.com

© 2010-15 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in featured, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (33)


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