Erin Cullaro, a former assistant Florida attorney general who was fired last year after moonlighting for a “foreclosure mill,” continues to serve on a state committee that investigates other lawyers for ethical violations.
Some lawyers and consumer advocates question whether such a position of authority with the Florida Bar is appropriate.
“The bar’s self monitoring leaves much to be desired,” said Lisa Epstein, of Foreclosure Hamlet.org, which tracks cases of foreclosure fraud.
Cullaro, who worked for the attorney general’s economic crimes division in Tampa, was fired in April following a formal reprimand by Gov. Rick Scott’s office, which questioned variations of her signature on legal documents.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; WELLS FARGO
BANK N.A. F/K/A WELLS FARGO BANK
MINNESOTA, N. A., as Trustee of BANK OF
AMERICAN SECURITIES INC.
ALTERNATIVE LOAN TRUST 2003-2;
FLORIDA DEFAULT LAW GROUP, P.I
COMPLAINT TO DETERMINE THE
NATURE, EXTENT AND VALIDITY
OF LIEN AND TO DISALLOW
SECURED CLAIM, TILA VIOLATION,
FRAUD, LIBEL, QUIET TILE, AND
Q. Okay. And who would do the title search?
2 MS. HILL: Are you asking who did the title
3 search in this case?
4 MR. IMMEL: Yes.
5 A.Generally for the firm, again, the title
6 company that — that we’ve engaged to do the title
7 search and exam is New House Title.
8 BY MR. IMMEL:
9 Q. Okay. And what relationship does New House
10 Title company have to Florida Default Law Group?
11 A. New House Title is a —
12 MS. HILL: Well, I’m going to object to the
13 form of the question.
14 MR. IMMEL: Okay.
15 MS. HILL: He just said that the firm engages
16 New House Title, so —
17 MR. IMMEL: Right.
18 MS. HILL: — it would appear they have a
19 relationship of vendor and vendee, but your
20 question was objectionable.
21 MR. IMMEL: Okay.
22 A. It’s the title company we engage to provide
23 the service. And I believe what we are getting to is
24 the fact that the law firm owns the title company.
25 BY MR. IMMEL:
Q. Okay. That is reflected on — commonly on
2 affidavits and things of that nature. Does Florida
3 Default Law Group solely utilize New House Title as
4 their — to review — do title searches?
22 Q. Okay. Okay. Do you personally know Lisa or
23 Erin Cullaro?
24 A. I do.
25 Q. You do. Okay. And as I’m sure you’re aware,
1 we’ve sought to take the depositions of Lisa and Erin
2 Cullaro in numerous cases and those affidavits were
3 withdrawn. Are you familiar with that issue within this
5 MS. HILL: I’m sorry. Are you asking this
6 witness as to what — what transpired in this
7 particular case, this foreclosure case?
8 MR. IMMEL: Yes. Based on his personal
10 MS. HILL: Okay. Then objection. You’re
11 assuming facts that have not been established.
12 You’re mischaracterizing his testimony. As far as
13 I can tell, the only fact that you’ve established
14 regarding his personal involvement is the
15 Assignment of Mortgage that is Exhibit A. And
16 whether that’s a part of this file or not a part of
17 this file are two different issues. But you have
18 not established that Mr. Wolfe individually has
19 served as an attorney with respect to the
20 prosecution of this foreclosure action, and so
21 asking him questions as to what may or may not have
22 transpired as part of the prosecution of this
23 foreclosure action is improper.
24 MR. IMMEL: Okay.
25 BY MR. IMMEL:
14 Q. Are you choosing not to answer that you have
15 any personal knowledge as to whether or not affidavits
16 have been withdrawn by Lisa and Erin Cullaro?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. You have no personal knowledge that —
19 A. I’m refusing to answer.
20 Q. You’re refusing to answer. Okay. Did you
21 ever discuss having their depositions taken with either
22 Lisa or Erin Cullaro?
23 MS. HILL: Same objection. Same instruction.
24 BY MR. IMMEL:
25 Q. And are you choosing not to answer based on
1 your attorney’s instructions?
2 A. Yes, I am choosing not to answer.
3 Q. Okay. Did you ever instruct Lisa Cullaro or
4 Erin Cullaro that Florida Default Law Group would
5 aggressively defend having their depositions taken in
6 this case or any other cases?
7 MS. HILL: Same objection. Same instruction.
8 BY MR. IMMEL:
9 Q. Are you choosing not to answer as to whether
10 or not you have any personal knowledge regarding the
11 Cullaro deposition, Lisa Cullaro or Erin Cullaro’s
12 deposition based on your attorney’s recommendation?
13 MS. HILL: That’s a different question. But
14 to that question, it’s the same objection and the
15 same answer.
16 A. I have —
17 MS. HILL: I mean, the same objection and the
18 same instruction.
19 A. Yes. I’m not going to answer. I have no idea
20 what — what deposition of Lisa Cullaro you’re
22 BY MR. IMMEL:
23 Q. Do you — do you have any personal knowledge
24 that our office has sought the deposition of Lisa
25 Cullaro or Erin Cullaro?
Action Date: September 14, 2010
Location: West Palm Beach, FL
On September 14, 2010, Florida Default Law Group filed “Notices” in foreclosure actions that the firm was withdrawing Affidavits it had previously filed. The Affidavits were signed by Jeffrey Stephan of GMAC Mortgage/Homecomings Financial in Montgomery County, PA. Stephan had previously admitted in depositions that he signed thousands of such affidavits each month with no knowledge of the contents and in many cases without even bothering to read the Affidavits. In the Notices, Florida Default claimed that “the undersigned law firm was not aware” that the Stephans Affidavits were improper and had a good faith belief in the Stephans Affidavits. Stephans signed so many Affidavits, however, on behalf of so many different securitized trusts, that his lack of actual knowledge should have been obvious. Many other mortgage servicing companies and foreclosure firms have filed thousands of other worthless, unfounded Affidavits. Perhaps the Law Offices of Marshall Watson will notify courts that Lost Note Affidavits signed by Linda Green, Tywanna Thomas and Korell Harp are also improper; perhaps The Law Offices of David Stern will notify Courts that their own office manager, Cheryl Samons, had no knowledge and did not even read the Affidavits she signed. The dark days of the foreclosure “robo-signers” seem to finally be coming to an end in Florida. Will the same judges who accepted thousands of these worthless Affidavits now believe the allegations that the foreclosure law firms acted in good faith when they presented these documents to Courts? An example of the Notice filed by Florida Default is available in the “Pleadings” section of this site. Highlights from the deposition of Jeffrey Stephan are available in the “Articles” section. Scott Anderson, Bryan Bly, Margaret Dalton, Erica Johnson-Seck, Crystal Moore and the other professional signers may finally be held accountable for their sworn false statements.
TampaBay.com recently exposed how some foreclosure mills are striving with wealth. In particular one law firm in the Fort Lauderdale area.
Here is another ‘Mega Estate’ under a “CERTAIN TRUST AGREEMENT” c/o The Law Offices of David J. Stern, PA 900 S. Pine Island Rd., Suite 400, Plantation Florida 33324. This is not far from his other $15,000,000.00 dollar “Mega Estate” and his $5 million dollar Ft. Lauderdale Beach condo.
This Hillsborough Estate, like his Ft. Lauderdale Estate also features a tennis court. According to BCPA.net this double lot MEGA ESTATE was purchased for a combined total of $17,000,000.00 in 2008.
Mr. Stern’s ‘nonlegal’ company DJSP Enterprises, Inc recently filed their Form S-8 with the SEC. I wonder where all these SHARES are going?
fannie mae owned.bank property. property is vacant.all offers requiring financing must have preapproval letter.all cash offer require proof of fund(see attachement).this property is eligible for home path renovation mortgage-as little as 3% down.buyer must close with seller closing agent(david j. stern law offices,p.a).investors not eligible for first 15days.*for showing instr please read broker remarks* note:offers must be submitted using attachment.close by 30 june and receive extra 3.5% in closing cost
Looking further into this I noticed the following:
Still in the name of the owner
NOT named under any REO
Home last sold for 245K
Now listed at 120K
Here is the BIGGEST:
I found a Bank-owned packet for this “SPECIALLY SELECTED” Agent/BROKER in many other REO’s and in this package it states the following: (SEE ABOVE LINK PACKET)
9) Which title companies are the sellers and who do I make out the earnest money deposit to once offer is verbally accepted?
a. PLEASE LOOK ON MLX REMARKS FOR TITLE COMPANY. MLX WILL HAVE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
HERE IS same Agent/Broker for a FLORIDA DEFAULT LAW GROUP property:
THIS IS FANNIE MAE HOMEPATH PROPERTY.BANK OWNED.ALL OFFERS REQUIRING FINANCING MUST HAVE PREAPPROVAL LETTER. ALL CASH OFFERS REQUIRE PROOF OF FUNDS. THIS PROPERTY IS APPROVED FOR HOMEPATH AND HOMEPATH RENOVATION MORTGAGE FINANCING-AS LITTLE AS 3% DOWN,NO APPRAISAL OR MORTGAGE INSURANCE REQUIRED! ** FOR SHOWING INST PLEASE READ BROKER REMARKS** YOU MUST SUBMIT OFFER USING ATTACHMENT! INVESTORS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FIRST 15DAYS.CLOSE BY JUNE 30 TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR EXTRA 3.5% SC.EMD: FL DEFAULT LAW GROUP.
Here is another same Agent/Broker forMARSHALL C. WATSON property:
FANNIE MAE OWNED.BANK PROPERTY. PROPERTY IS VACANT.ALL OFFERS REQUIRING FINANCING MUST HAVE PREAPPROVAL LETTER.ALL CASH OFFERS REQUIRE PROOF OF FUNDS(SEE ATTACHEMENT).THIS PROPERTY IS ELIGIBLE FOR HOME PATH RENOVATION MORTGAGE-AS LITTLE AS 3% DOWN.BUYER MUST CLOSE WITH SELLER CLOSING AGENT (LAW OFFICES OF MARSHALL C. WATSON).INVESTOR NOT ELIGIBLE FOR FIRST 15DAYS.*FOR SHOWING INSTR PLEASE READ BROKER REMARK* NOTE:OFFERS MUST BE SUBMITTED USING ATTACHMENT.CLOSE BY JUNE 30 TO GET 3.5% EXTRA IN CLOSING COST
Does the JUNE 30th Closing Day have any significance??
What “if” the BUYER selects their own Title company? Does this eliminate their chances of ever even being considered as a buyer?
Why even bother to state this?
Is this a way for the selected Agent/ Broker to find the buyer and discourage other agents or buyers from viewing?
Was this at all even necessary to state?
Is this verbiage to coerce agents to get a higher commission rather than pass down the incentive of 3.5% towards closing cost “if” under contract by 6/30?
Why do investors have to refrain from buying for the first 15 days?
Coercion (pronounced /ko???r??n/) is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, trickery, or some other form of pressure or force. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way. Coercion may involve the actual infliction of physical pain/injury or psychological harm in order to enhance the credibility of a threat. The threat of further harm may lead to the cooperation or obedience of the person being coerced. Torture is one of the most extreme examples of coercion i.e. severe pain is inflicted until the victim provides the desired information.
Folks there is just way too many. Eventually this will all be released.
Every Foreclosure/REO/Short Sale out there is virtually like this!
via ForeclosureHamlet.org & 4closurefraud.org
The attached documents are almost always the sole “evidence” showing the right of a foreclosing entity/servicer (or their shell National Bank Cover ie: US Bank) to foreclose on an American family’s home, evicting them from the only shelter that may be available to them.
Millions of examples of this and other “robo-signers” available upon request.
Of note, please see the last attachment; her deposition where she denies any “personal knowledge” or even a cursory glance at the facts of the case.
America………..what a heartache……….
ANOTHER POINT IS THEY seem to be different signatures. Some have loops and some do not.
Another area that should be investigated in the foreclosure mill process is the “process serving” Mills such as ProVest LLC.
I worked at ProVest for 7 months a few years ago, as jobs are scarce. There were some issues there of some of the servers just “drop serving” the summons, (just leaving at the door and saying they gave it directly) or Sewer serves, (saying it was served and they never even left at the door). A few borrowers obtained legal counsel and executed their rights, as they were never properly served, but there are probably more borrowers unaware they have been “had”.
If Improperly served, the court dates cannot be set.
Due to ProVest’s aggressive style, and high volume of work, it is possible many servers, not direct employees, were forced to do the serves this way due to the volume and ProVest’s unrealistic expectations. They wanted a serve within 10 days of it being filed at the court house. As an employee, server or not, if you did not meet their outrageous timeframes it provoked what I call “public floggings” of employees. Not a nice place to work.
ProVest does process serving for many of the foreclosure mills such as Stern and FDLG… And for the record, when I was there, a husband worked for FDLG, and the wife worked for ProVest…
So, if you want more dirt for your compaign, here it is.. Check to see if the borrowers were properly served.
HSBC never posted the bond and proceeded to foreclose, violating a specific court order. Eslava’a attorney Shaleen Khan, sought to overturn the sale based on HSBC’s violation. Outcome – let’s just say that Judge Bailey wiped the floors with William Huffman, who represented HSBC through Florida Default Law Group.
Almost holding Huffman in contempt, not only did Judge Bailey overturn the foreclosure, she wiped out Enslava’s entire $207,000 mortgage. Bailey blasted Huffman saying the order she expects performance not apologies and complained about the general “chaos and disorganization” of lenders and their lawyers.
Judge Bailey states ” FLORIDA DEFAULT can cut whatever deal it wants to cut with them, but at the end of the day the bank is responsible for this!
Today, a Key West, Florida Circuit Court Judge dismissed a foreclosure action filed by Florida Default Law Group (FDLG), which was representing Bank of New York as the alleged “Trustee” of a Bear Stearns securitized mortgage loan trust. The borrower, who was represented by FDN’s Jeff Barnes, Esq., had served discovery on FDLG in late February, 2009. FDLG filed one of its form “open ended” Motions for Extension of Time to respond to the discovery (that being with no date certain for the response). FDLG failed to respond to Mr. Barnes’ good-faith request as to how much time FDLG needed to respond to the borrower’s discovery. The first “response” from FDLG came over 13 months later when FDLG objected to practically everything which Mr. Barnes asked for.
FDLG also failed to comply with the Court’s Pretrial Order, and had a history in the case of violating court orders and actually paid sanctions on prior Motion filed by Mr. Barnes. The Court dismissed the case and conditioned any re-filing on full compliance with Mr. Barnes’ discovery and the Court’s Orders.
Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com
Posted by Harriet Brackey on April 30, 2010 10:46 AM SunSentinel
If you want to speak to Florida’s Attorney General about foreclosure or loan modifications or mortgage fraud, here’s your chance.
Saturday, May 8, in Miami, Attorney General Bill McCollum will be on hand for a Mortgage Fraud Community Forum. He’s hosting the event with Florida’s Interagency Mortgage Task Force.
The session is on “The Housing Crisis, Who to Trust and Where to Turn.”
It’s open to the public and free, but reservations are required. Call 877-385-1621.
It will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, Chapman Conference Center, 300 N.E. Second Ave.
The AG’s office says you can get help on how to face foreclosure, housing scams, mortgage fraud, loan modifications and finding legal assistance.
Certified housing counselors, volunteer lawyers, as well as representatives of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo/Wachovia and SunTrust will be on hand.
Also attending will be representatives of:
Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Office of Financial Regulation, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Florida Bar, Dade County Bar Legal Aid Society, Cuban American Bar and the Collins Center Foreclosure Mediation Program.
TAMPA – The Florida Attorney General’s Office is investigating a Tampa-based foreclosure law firm that has become one of the state’s largest foreclosure mills.
On the agency’s Web site, the attorney general showed it has an “active public consumer-related investigation” into Florida Default Law Group. The agency notes that it is a civil investigation, rather than a criminal one, and the fact that is has an investigation isn’t proof of any violation of law.
Without going into much detail, the attorney general’s Web site says Florida Default Law Group, “Appears to be fabricating and/or presenting false and misleading documents in foreclosure cases.
“These documents have been presented in court before judges as actual assignments of mortgages and have later been shown to be legally inadequate and/or insufficient. Presenting faulty bank paperwork due to the mortgage crisis and thousands of foreclosures per month.”
Attempts to reach the Attorney General’s Office and Michael Echevarria, the head of Florida Default Law Group, were unsuccessful Thursday.
Based in a business park just off the Veteran’s Expressway, Florida Default Law Group files hundreds of foreclosure lawsuits alone in Hillsborough County on behalf of banks and mortgage servicing companies. The Tribune profiled Florida Default Law Group in January.
According to the Tribune’s review of 1,994 circuit court records, the firm filed initial legal documents for 323 foreclosure lawsuits in October. That was second only to the Law Offices of David J. Stern, a Broward County-based foreclosure firm that filed 352 foreclosure cases in October.
Florida Default Law Group operates in numerous counties in Florida, but it’s not clear how many lawsuits it files outside of Hillsborough County.
Reporter Michael Sasso can be reached at (813) 259-7865.
These are precarious times for lawyers in the business of filing foreclosure cases for banks. This is particularly true in one of the epicenters of the foreclosure crisis, Florida.
As we’ve noted before, the feds in Jacksonville recently started a criminal investigation of a company that is a top provider of the documentation used by banks in the foreclosure process. And a state-court judge ruled that a bank submitted a “fraudulent” document in support of its foreclosure case. That document was prepared by a local law firm.
For more Law Blog background on the foreclosure mess in our nation’s courts, this post will help.
The news today: the Florida Attorney General’s office said it has launched a civil investigation of Florida Default Law Group, based in Tampa, which is one of the largest so-called foreclosure-mill law firms in the state.
According to the AG’s website, it’s looking at whether the firm is “fabricating and/or presenting false and misleading documents in foreclosure cases.” It added: “These documents have been presented in court before judges as actual assignments of mortgages and have later been shown to be legally inadequate and/or insufficient.”
The issue: judges are increasingly running into situations in which banks are claiming ownership of properties they actually don’t own. Some of them end up chewing out the lawyers representing the banks.
The AG’s office said Florida Default Law Group appears to work closely with Lender Processing Services — the company we referenced earlier that is being investigated by the Justice Department.
LPS processes and sometimes produces documents needed by banks to prove they own the mortgages. LPS often works with local lawyers who litigate the foreclosure cases in court. Sometimes those same law firms produce documents that are required to prove ownership.
We’ve reached out to Florida Default Law Group and LPS and will let you know if we hear back.
The case file cited below relates to a civil — not a criminal — investigation. The existence of an investigation does not constitute proof of any violation of law.
Subject of investigation:
Florida Default Law Group, PL
9119 Corporate Lake Drive, Suite 300, Tampa, Florida 33634
Law Firm, Foreclosures
Allegation or issue being investigated:
Appears to be fabricating and/or presenting false and misleading documents in foreclosure cases. These documents have been presented in court before judges as actual assignments of mortgages and have later been shown to be legally inadequate and/or insufficient. Presenting faulty bank paperwork due to the mortgage crisis and thousands of foreclosures per month. This firm is one of the largest foreclosure firms in the State. This firm appears to be one of Docx, LLC a/k/a Lender Processing Services’ clients, who this office is also investigating.
AG unit handling case:
Economic Crimes Division in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
We all know some of the many hats Erica Johnson-Seck wears…so whats a few more. Just like her, Eric Friedman joins her with some signings and also gives Law Offices of David J. Stern Power Of Attorney via IndyMac.
N0tice how it may be the same person signing for all on the POA? Eric also signs documents for Florida Default Group now would this be a conflict? What makes of this POA since Eric’s signatures aren’t consistent and is an officer of other banks too?
Oh and they didn’t want notary Mai Thao to feel left out so they let “Mai” in on it too.
Notice original banks ceased operations before these were assigned.
They “fabricated” these assignments to back date and record months after.
Notice no addresses because their is none.
IndyMac itself was ceased by the FDIC in 7/11/2008 and sold to OneWest 3/19/2009.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the attorneys at Ice Legal may be the most aggressive and hard charging Foreclosure Fraud Fighters in Florida. When this whole system comes crashing down and when judges and the Florida Supreme Court put an end to the systemic abuses of the court process being perpetrated by the foreclosure mills, the attorneys at Ice Legal will rightly take their fair share of the credit.
Attached here is a must read Motion along with a copy of a transcript from a hearing held in a Volusia County Courtroom. The Motion lays out a very disturbing set of allegations…
This is a foreclosure action filed by WELLS FARGO BANK, NA (the “BANK”). The BANK is represented by Florida Default Law Group, P.L. (“FDLG”). On behalf of the BANK in this case, and on behalf of other clients in other cases, FDLG filed affidavits to establish that the attorneys’ fees it was allegedly paid were reasonable. The affidavits purport to have been executed by Lisa Cullaro, the appointed expert on attorneys’ fees. The notary who allegedly administered the expert’s oath and vouched for her signature was Erin Cullaro, a former employee of FDLG and now an Assistant Attorney General in the Economic Crimes Division of the Office of the Attorney General.
Not only was Erin just a former employee, she was one of the lead counsel for Michael Echeverria, the owner of FDLG (Florida Default Law Group)