Law Office Of Steven J. Baum | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Tag Archive | "Law Office Of Steven J. Baum"

A Foreclosure Film in the Making Awaits Final Scene

A Foreclosure Film in the Making Awaits Final Scene


American Banker-

What do an insurance agent in Tennessee, a homemaker in Ohio, a private investigator from Wisconsin and a helicopter stunt pilot in Hollywood have in common?  Well, for one thing, they’ve all participated in some fashion in “Foreclosure Diaries,” the documentary that my company, Pacific Street Films, has been producing, in fits and starts, since 2006.

When work first started on the film, the original tag was “Follow the Money,” and the road seemed to lead towards a dark and confusing destination. There was all this talk in the industry about scads of money to be made in servicing “subprime” loans.  There were seminars, conferences, it seemed all the rage. 

[AMERICAN BANKER]

image: macgasm.net

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Steven J. Baum settles with NY AG Schneiderman; will pay $4M

Steven J. Baum settles with NY AG Schneiderman; will pay $4M


What about the rest? This is an insult!

Update: Pillar Processing is also part of this settlement.

Buffalo Business First-

The case of embattled foreclosure attorney Steven Baum has taken another turn as the Amherst attorney reached a settlement with the New York State Attorney General over charges his firm mishandled foreclosure filings statewide over many years.

Under terms of the agreement, Baum has agreed not to handle mortgages for two years and will pay a penalty of $4 million.

The deal with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office comes five month after the firm settled with the United States Attorney for the Southern District and paid $2 million while agreeing to drastically overhaul its business practices.

[BUFFALO BUSINESS FIRST]

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Foreclosure mill getting peppered, Linked to the first criminal case brought against alleged robo-signers

Foreclosure mill getting peppered, Linked to the first criminal case brought against alleged robo-signers


In case you wish to read the transcripts from this story check it out: FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF LENDER PROCESSING SERVICES “LPS” SCOTT A. WALTER PART 1 &

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

NY POST-

The stink is growing around the state’s largest foreclosure mill.

The Steven J. Baum law firm, which last month agreed to pay a $2 million fine to settle a federal probe into bogus foreclosure case filings, has now been barred by federal mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from getting any more referrals of home loan defaults owned by either company.

In addition, the 70-lawyer firm is linked to the first criminal case brought against alleged robo-signers.

The criminal case was brought by the Nevada attorney general against two title officers — Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard — charged with forging signatures on 606 foreclosure-related mortgage documents.

.
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Amherst law firm agrees to pay fine, Settlement involves foreclosure practices

Amherst law firm agrees to pay fine, Settlement involves foreclosure practices


“I am glad the U. S. Attorney completed this phase of the Baum saga and that he is changing his practice,” said New York City attorney Susan Chana Lask

[…]

“I hope homeowners use the settlement to show the courts the foreclosure mill problem was real and damaged a lot of people’s lives. It’s not over.”

I’m almost certain she is referencing that although the US Attorney settled, AG Schneiderman has yet to complete his investigation.

 

Buffalo News-

Steven J. Baum PC, the Amherst law firm that has been under heavy fire for its foreclosure practices, agreed Thursday to pay a $2 million fine and “extensively” overhaul its practices in a settlement with the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan that has statewide implications.

The agreement with Baum resolves a federal investigation into whether the state’s largest foreclosure law firm, on behalf of lenders, filed misleading affidavits, mortgage assignments and other documents in state and federal courts.

[BUFFALO NEWS]

image: thetorchtheatre

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

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


Mortgage Fraud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Baum shall provide the following notification:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

NY POST-

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

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

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

.
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MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE LAW FIRM TO OVERHAUL ITS PRACTICES AND PAY $2 MILLION FINE

MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT WITH MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE LAW FIRM TO OVERHAUL ITS PRACTICES AND PAY $2 MILLION FINE


UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
Southern District of New York

U.S. ATTORNEY PREET BHARARA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 6, 2011
http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys

CONTACT: Ellen Davis, Carly Sullivan, Jerika Richardson
(212) 637-2600

 

.

MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES AGREEMENT
WITH MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE LAW FIRM TO OVERHAUL
ITS PRACTICES AND PAY $2 MILLION FINE

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has entered into an agreement with the law firm of STEVEN J. BAUM, P.C. (“BAUM”), one of the largest volume mortgage foreclosure firms in New York State, that requires the firm to pay $2 million to the United States and to extensively change its practices with respect to mortgage foreclosure actions (the “Agreement”). The Agreement resolves an investigation into BAUM’s mortgage foreclosure-related practices, specifically whether the firm, on behalf of its lender clients, filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in state and federal courts in New York.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “In mortgage foreclosure proceedings, there are no excuses for sloppy practices that could lead to someone mistakenly losing their home. Homeowners facing foreclosure cannot afford to have faulty paperwork or inadequate evidence submitted, and today’s agreement will help minimize that risk.”

The Agreement specifically prohibits BAUM from engaging in certain practices related to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), a subscription-based electronic registry system for lenders and other entities that tracks ownership interests in mortgages. MERS members contractually agree to appoint MERS as their agent on all mortgages they register. Until recently, employees of BAUM, with the consent of MERS, had been assigning mortgages on behalf of MERS, even though they had no connection to MERS whatsoever, which resulted in errors in its legal filings in state and federal court. Pursuant to the Agreement, BAUM is prohibited from executing any assignment of a mortgage as an “officer” or “director” of MERS.

The Agreement also requires a general overhaul of BAUM’s practice with respect to its filings in mortgage foreclosure actions. Under the terms of the Agreement, BAUM has agreed to:

  • Take steps to inform courts of the nature of the assignments in pending foreclosure proceedings it is handling;
  • Obtain appropriate affidavits from its clients attesting to the fact that they possess original notes or have conducted a diligent search and the original note could not be found;
  • Have experienced attorneys supervise the preparation of pleadings, and review and approve pleadings before they can be filed;
  • Implement a 12-24 month training program for its attorneys that includes an overview of the foreclosure process in New York State and a review of the litigation procedures expected at BAUM;
  • Provide immediate notice to the Government when objections are raised regarding the accuracy of certain court filings related to mortgage foreclosure proceedings; and
  • Maintain documentation of its compliance with the settlement.

In addition, the Agreement requires BAUM to pay the United States $2 million in exchange for a release from any potential claims pursuant to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”). FIRREA authorizes the United States to seek civil penalties for violations of, and conspiracies to violate, certain predicate criminal statutes involving financial fraud, including mail and wire fraud. The release from liability does not preclude any other parties, including individual homeowners, from pursuing any rights they may have.

The Agreement does not constitute a finding by any court or agency that Baum has engaged in any unlawful practice or wrongdoing. In the Agreement, Baum acknowledges, however, that it occasionally made inadvertent errors in its legal filings in state and federal court, which it attributes to human error in light of the high volume of mortgage defaults and foreclosures throughout the State of New York in the wake of the national subprime mortgage crisis.

Mr. BHARARA thanked the U.S. Trustee’s Office for their invaluable assistance in this case. The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys PIERRE ARMAND and LARA ESHKENAZI are in charge of the case.

The Civil Frauds Unit works in coordination with President BARACK OBAMA’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which Mr. BHARARA serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group. President OBAMA established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

11-302 ###

[Read the agreement below]

 

[ipaper docId=67831624 access_key=key-sjeggego2opcclgi8ik height=600 width=600 /]

 

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

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


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

Money is the root of all evil.

Bloomberg-

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

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

[BLOOMBERG]

 

[ipaper docId=67831624 access_key=key-sjeggego2opcclgi8ik height=600 width=600 /]

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Ares, Tailwind Said to Be Subpoenaed in N.Y. Foreclosure Probe

Ares, Tailwind Said to Be Subpoenaed in N.Y. Foreclosure Probe


BLOOMBERG-

Tailwind, a private equity firm, and investment firm Ares both have financial ties to Pillar Processing LLC, which processes foreclosures for the law firm of Steven J. Baum. Baum handles almost half the foreclosures in New York, according to one of the people. Baum and Pillar were subpoenaed about a month ago, according to the second person. Both declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public.


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Baum’s practices come under intense scrutiny

Baum’s practices come under intense scrutiny


BuffaloNews

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

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

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NY Foreclosure Lawyer Under Investigation, Auburn Woman Speaks Out

NY Foreclosure Lawyer Under Investigation, Auburn Woman Speaks Out


AUBURN — Marie Treat is happy to learn that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating a Buffalo law firm for questionable strong-arm tactics in its handling of thousands of foreclosures in New York State. Treat says the Steven J. Baum law firm put her through two and a half years of unnecessary anguish when it tried to foreclose on her home in Auburn beginning in 2007.

Click image below to continue…



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NY Judge Puts An End To Modification Game, Strikes Back With His Own Rules | U.S. BANK v. PADILLA

NY Judge Puts An End To Modification Game, Strikes Back With His Own Rules | U.S. BANK v. PADILLA


Must read to understand the frustration this single parent, nurse and strong-willed individual was put through. Absolutely NO excuse and this is another reason why HAMP was such a disaster!

Again, where exactly do these “trial payments” go to?

US Bank National Association, as Trustee For CMLTI 2007-WFHE3, Plaintiff,

against

Alejandra Padilla et al., Defendants.

8979/09
Steven J. Baum, P.C.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
220 Northpointe Parkway, Suite G
Amherst, New York 14228

Ms. Alejandra Padilla
Defendant, Pro Se
One Vine Street
Beacon, New York 12508

James D. Pagones, J.

Excerpt:

ORDERED that plaintiff is directed to re-open the homeowner’s file and consider her for a modification taking into consideration the bank’s delay in reaching a decision; and it is further

ORDERED that plaintiff is barred from collecting any interest incurred from October 4, 2010, until the date the matter is released from the settlement part; and it is further

ORDERED that any unpaid late fees are waived; and it is further

ORDERED that any loan modification fees are to be either waived or refunded to the homeowner; and it is further;

ORDERED that any attorney’s fees and other bank fees claimed to have been incurred from the date of the default until the date of this matter is released from the settlement part are not to be included in the calculation of the homeowner’s modified mortgage payment or otherwise imposed on the homeowner, but, rather, any request for attorney’s fees is hereby severed and to be submitted to the court for separate, independent review as to their reasonableness; and it is further

ORDERED that a bank representative fully familiar with the file and with full authority to approve and enter into a loan modification appear in person at the next conference, and it is further

ORDERED that an attorney associated with plaintiff’s firm must appear at the hearing (local counsel may not appear); and it is further

ORDERED that the parties appear for a further conference in the Foreclosure Settlement Part on April 25, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. Adjournments are granted only with leave of the Court.

Failure to comply with this order may result in sanctions.

The foregoing constitutes the order of the Court.

Dated: Poughkeepsie, New York

April 8, 2011

ENTER

HON. JAMES D. PAGONES, A.J.S.C. [*5]

[ipaper docId=52815350 access_key=key-ci799bsq760x15al7w0 height=600 width=600 /]

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NY Attorney General Says Foreclosure Settlement Shouldn’t End Individual Investigations

NY Attorney General Says Foreclosure Settlement Shouldn’t End Individual Investigations


Bloomberg

The resolution of a 50-state probe of foreclosure practices shouldn’t block individual states from investigating the mortgage-servicing industry, according to the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“Any settlement agreement should preserve the ability of attorneys general to follow the facts where they lead and not be precluded from conducting comprehensive investigations,” Lauren Passalacqua, a Schneiderman spokeswoman, said today in a statement.

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

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


via

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

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

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


From Gretchen Morgenson

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

[Samples Below]


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PT. 2 “NO TRUST LOAN TRANSFER” DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES

PT. 2 “NO TRUST LOAN TRANSFER” DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES


Affidavit Included

Excerpt: Pg 168

Q. To the best of your knowledge, did Chase ever own Ms. Nuer’s loan?

A. No.

Q.  To the best of your knowledge, was Ms. Nuer’s loan ever transferred out of this trust?

A. No.

Q.  Does the trust continue to own Ms. Nuer’s loan today?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible that this loan, Ms. Nuer’s loan, somehow transferred to the trust by Chase in November 2008?

A. No.

[…]

Down Load PDF of This Case

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MUST READ! NY Judge Vacates NOTE Over Confusion, LQQK And SEE WHY! JPMorgan Chase v. RAMIREZ

MUST READ! NY Judge Vacates NOTE Over Confusion, LQQK And SEE WHY! JPMorgan Chase v. RAMIREZ


CA Retired Judge Samuel L. Bufford said it best

“Lenders passed around the deed to Vargas’ house as if it were a whiskey bottle at a frat party”

Jp MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. f/k/a Jp
MORGAN CHASE BANK f/k/a THE CHASE
MANHA TTAN BANK, AS TRUSTEE,

against

INDI flRA RAMIREZ, JOSEPH JAMES, KEISH
McCLOUD a/k/a KEISHA McLEOD, MYRNA
JAMES, NORTH FORK BANK,

Excerpt:

Finally, a court may vacate a note of issue at any time on its own motion if it appears that a material fact in the certificate of readiness is incorrect (see, 22 NYCRR 202.21 [e]; Simon v City of Syracuse Police Dept., 13 AD3d 1228, 787 NYS2d 577 [4th Oept 2004], Iv dismissed 5 NY2d 746, 800 NYS2d 375 [2005]). Here, based on the evidence submitted with the moving papers and the confusion regarding plaintiff’s standing and prosecution of this foreclosure action, the Court concludes that the certificate of readiness contains a misstatement of material fact, namely, that
disclosure is complete and the action is ready for trial. Accordingly, the Court, sua sponte, vacates the note of issue filed by plaintiff and strikes this action from the trial calendar (see 22 NYCRR 202.21 [e]).

This is a MUST read below…

[ipaper docId=50325156 access_key=key-25hut0sqsr8f7xi6zfvm height=600 width=600 /]

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DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES

DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST CO. VP RONALDO REYES


Be prepared to blown away with April Charney and Linda Tirelli!

THEY DO NOT BACK DOWN!

Be sure to go down to the “related depos” down below…

Down Load PDF of This Case

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

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


Decided on February 22, 2011

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

APPELLATE DIVISION : SECOND JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT

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

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

v

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

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

DECISION & ORDER

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

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

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

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

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

ENTER:

Matthew G. Kiernan

Clerk of the Court

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

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


Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Plaintiff,

against

David Zelouf, et. al., Defendants.

17524/09

Plaintiff

Michael Joblonski, Esq.

Steven J. Baum, PC

Buffalo, NY

Defendant

The defendant did not answer.

Arthur M. Schack, J.

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

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

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

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

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

accuracy of the allegations set forth in the Complaint and any

supporting affirmations filed with the Court as well as the accuracy

of the notarizations contained in the supporting documents filed

therewith.

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

final judgment against the plaintiff has not been stayed pursuant

to section 551. [emphasis added]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to take the drastic step of foreclosure.

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

Conclusion

Accordingly, it is

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

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

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

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

This constitutes the Decision and Order of the Court.

ENTER

________________________________
HON. ARTHUR M. SCHACK

J. S. C.

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WHOA!! NYSC Order To Show Cause “EXPUNGE SAID MORTGAGE & IT’S ASSIGNMENT” Alfred Lewis Enterprises. v. U.S. BANK

WHOA!! NYSC Order To Show Cause “EXPUNGE SAID MORTGAGE & IT’S ASSIGNMENT” Alfred Lewis Enterprises. v. U.S. BANK


excerpt:

may be heard why and Order should not be made allowing Plaintiff the following relief:

1. Declaring the Mortgage dated March 2,2005 between Darie Edmundson and Fremont Bank and its’ assignment to Defendant dated May 1,2006 placing a lien upon 522 Bainbridge Street Brooklyn, N.Y. Block 15 10 Lot 20
2. Directing the Clerk of the County of Kings to expunge said mortgage and it’s assignment from the Kings County records.

SUFFICIENT CAUSE APPEARING HEREIN, Let personal service of this Order and the papers upon which it is based may be made to Steven J. Baum P.C.,

Continue reading below…


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Daily Finance| Why a New York Judge Is Throwing Out Foreclosure Cases

Daily Finance| Why a New York Judge Is Throwing Out Foreclosure Cases


Posted 1:45 PM 01/12/11

On Oct. 20, New York state courts cracked down on robo-signing by ordering attorneys for foreclosing banks to swear that they had personally confirmed that the documents they are submitting are true and accurate. So far, attorneys haven’t been able to file many of the necessary affirmations.

Now, Judge Arthur M. Schack of Brooklyn has taken things a step further. Since the banks in cases before him have yet to begin complying with the new court rules, he has started throwing out foreclosure cases. But the question isn’t whether the banks will now choose to start complying with the rule: The question is: Will they even be able to?

“You Have to Obey Court Orders”

The first case Judge Schack tossed was Citibank, N.A. v. Murillo, which he dismissed with prejudice on Jan. 7, as the blog StopForeclosureFraud reported. The attorneys for Citibank (C) in that case were from the Steven Baum law firm, a foreclosure mill that has been sanctioned for its involvement in frivolous cases. If the Baum firm couldn’t file a timely affirmation in the Murillo case, how many of its other cases will it be able to file affirmations in?

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