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Judge holds bankers in contempt, threatens jail

Judge holds bankers in contempt, threatens jail


Jose Pagliery Daily Business Review January 13, 2011

Representatives from six major banks that skipped a hearing in a Miami condo association receivership case could face the wrath of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey today if they fail to show up a second time.

The judge already has declared lenders that own or are foreclosing on units at Bird Grove Condo are on the hook for $105,999 in expenses for the court-appointed receiver for the association. She also held the six in contempt of court.

Bailey last month granted a request by the receiver, Miami attorney Lisa Lehner, to be paid for pulling the building — an asset for the foreclosing banks — back from the brink of condemnation.

When Lehner was appointed in March, garbage hadn’t been collected for weeks, electricity was about to be cut off, the building had no insurance, and an elevator was broken. She turned it around in months.

“They have property and collateral that if I walk away from turn into nothing,” Lehner said. “Here I am, sitting as their property manager, working for free after practicing law for 28 years. It’s just not fair.”

Lehner’s demand for $5,579 in expenses per unit went uncontested at a Dec. 1 show cause hearing where Bank of America was the only lender to send a representative. Missing were Flagstar Bank, GMAC, PNC Bank, SunTrust Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

In November, banks owned two units and were foreclosing on another 17 units in the 39-unit building at 2734 Bird Ave. between a gas station and a gallery. A one-bedroom, one-bath unit is listed for sale for $50,000. Bank of America filed nine foreclosure cases, followed by GMAC with five.

The six lenders were ordered to send non-attorney representatives to today’s hearing, when Bailey will discuss whether the banks also should be required to pay the receiver’s upcoming maintenance fees. Bailey’s order threatened to have bankers arrested if they didn’t show, and she warned, “You may be held in jail up to 48 hours before a hearing is held.”


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

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


EXCERPTS:

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

Dear Sir or Madam:

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

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

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

<SNIPS>

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

<SNIP>

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

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

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

Dated: Poughkeepsie, New York
April 10, 2008

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

Read below…

[ipaper docId=45504533 access_key=key-c1s6aje4rh8a3iok006 height=600 width=600 /]]

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