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FORECLOSURE JUSTICE ADVOCATES ARE THANKFUL IN 2011

FORECLOSURE JUSTICE ADVOCATES ARE THANKFUL IN 2011


Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Fraud Digest,
Thanksgiving
2011

….for Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Chief Deputy Attorney General John Kelleher for filing criminal charges against two employees at Lender Processing Services, alleging that these employees filed thousands of falsified documents relating to foreclosures in Nevada. Attorney General Masto never said “I wish someone would do something about all of this mortgage fraud by servicers and document companies.”

…for Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, representing Maryland’s 7th
District, for his recognition of the importance of keeping families in
their homes, for his battle against fraudulent banking practices and for
being a constant, strong voice against fraudulent foreclosures in
America.

…for Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden for filing a lawsuit
against MERS for unfair and deceptive trade practices that plainly sets
out the fraudulent activities done in the name of MERS, including
obscuring important mortgage ownership information, acting as an
agent of the true owners of mortgage loans without authority, and
failing to properly oversee the MERS registry or enforce its own rules
in foreclosure proceedings. (State of Delaware v. MERSCORP,
Wilmington Division, Delaware Chancery Court). Attorney General
Biden also intervened in the $8.5 billion settlement proposed by Bank
of America to resolve claims by investors in mortgage-backed
securities put together by Countrywide Financial Corporation.

…for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his
determination to investigate whether securities laws were broken when
mortgage loans were bundled into securities, for intervening in the
Bank of America settlement, and for refusing any deal that would give
immunity for criminal acts to banks or securities companies.

…for New York Judge Arthur Schack, for his intolerance of lies by
banks, for exposing the massive problem of fraudulent documents
used in foreclosures, and for writing the following in response to a
sworn affidavit from a bank lawyer, Margaret Carucci, that an officer
from Downey Savings & Loan could vouch for the accuracy of the
documents: “Ms. Carucci affirmed under the penalties of perjury that
she communicated on Christmas Eve with the officer of a defunct
financial institution. This is a deceptive trick and fraud upon the court.
It cannot be tolerated. This Christmas Eve conduct, in the words of
Ebenezer Scrooge, ins‘Bah, humbug!’” (Downey Savings and Loan
Association, F.A. v. Trujillo, 2011 NY Slip Op 51517 (U)). Judge
Schack has led the way to honesty in courtrooms.

…for New York Times OpEd columnist Joe Nocera for bringing the
photographs of the Steven Baum Halloween party, where firm
employees mocked homeowners in foreclosure, to the attention of the
world.

…for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley for
focusing attention on Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.
and whether MERS impaired the integrity of the state’s recording
system. Attorney General Coakley also made it clear that she would
do an in-depth investigation of MERS, stating, “We want to be clear we
are not prepared to give a release of liability on any broad scope of
MERS issues.”

…for Oscar-winning director Curtis Hanson and his HBO Film, Too
Big To Fail. Can anyone ever look at Treasury Secretary Henry
Paulson again without remembering William Hurt’s portrayal? When
we hear the name Ben Bernake, doesn’t Paul Giamatti come
immediately to mind? But James Woods, as Richard Fuld, Chariman
and CEO of Lehman Brothers, will always epitomize the clueless
corporate executive.

…for Florida attorneys Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson who
were fired from the Economic Crimes Division of the Attorney
General’s Office after targets of their foreclosure fraud investigations
complained that these Assistant Attorneys General were too
aggressive. Edwards and Clarkson had gone after some of the most
notorious foreclosure mills in the state, including the law offices of
David Stern and Marshall Watson. They were also conducting an
extensive investigation of Docx and Lender Processing Services at the
time they were forced to resign. Florida Representative Darren
Soto of Orlando called for an investigation of the firings by the U.S.
Department of Justice and by the Inspector General in the Attorney
General’s office.

…for Locke Barkley, the standing Chapter 13 Trustee for the
Northern District of Mississippi, and her attorneys, Nick Wooten
and D.W. Grimsley, for filing a class action complaint in federal court
against Lender Processing Services alleging a kick-back scheme and
unlawful fee splitting between LPS and the attorneys in its network.

…for New York Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert E. Grossman for
issuing the first federal court ruling that MERS cannot transfer and
assign mortgage through its electronic registry system. Judge
Grossman rejected the argument that the banks had the authority to
arbitrarily change state property laws, stating, “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.” (In re Agard, 10-77338, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern
District of New york (Central Islip).

…for Louisiana Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth W. Magner for
imposing sanctions against Lender Processing Services, stating: “The
fraud perpetrated on the Court, Debtors and trustee would be shocking
if this Court had less experience concerning the conduct of mortgage
servicers. One too many times, this Court has been witness to the
shoddy practices and sloppy accounting of the mortgage service
industry. (In re Wilson, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of
Louisiana.)

…for Guilford County Recorder Jeff Thigpen for showing in
painstaking and incontrovertible detail how foreclosure fraud has
permeated county recording offices, for standing up for the rights of
homeowners, and for explaining how foreclosure fraud affects ALL
homeowners, not just those in foreclosure.

…for Massachusetts Register of Deeds John O’Brien and Marie
McDonnell who studied the records of the Southern Essex County
Registry of Deeds and found massive fraud. O’Brien released findings
that 75% of the mortgage assignments in the registry are fraudulent.
“My registry is a crime scene…” said O’Brien, who also has assisted
other country recorders throughout the United States in understanding
mortgage fraud issues and identifying robo-signers.

…for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Michigan
Attorney General Bill Schuette for issuing subpoenas to mortgage
servicers Lender Processing Services and Nationwide Title Clearing as
part of criminal investigations into the practices of mortgage servicing
companies. Just when the mortgage servicing companies thought they
had worked out a wonderful settlement with the OCC where they were
free to investigate themselves and report back, along came these
serious criminal law enforcement efforts.

…for Ingham County, Michigan Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel,
Jr. for investigating foreclosure fraud and robo-signing and reporting
his findings. Hertel found that banks were continuing to produce
foreclosure paperwork without proper reviews and signatures, despite
promises of reform.

…for Dallas County, Texas, District Attorney Craig Watkins and
Duval County, Florida, Clerk of the Court Jim Fuller for bringing
class action lawsuits against MERS. The lawsuits allege that MERS acts
as a “shadow recording system” for buying and selling mortgages in
the United States. The lawsuits attack the system that lists MERS as
the mortgagee on millions of loans throughout the country when MERS
did not originate the loans, lend any money or own or hold any
promissory notes.

…for Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gants who
upheld a lower court ruling that two foreclosures were invalid because
the banks did not prove they owned the mortgages which had been
transferred into residential mortgage-backed trusts. The case was
expected to affect all foreclosures done without proper documents.
Judge Gants wrote, “the mortgages securing these notes are still legal
title to someone’s home or farm and must be treated as such.” The
case was seen as a significant warning to all purchasers of foreclosed
properties to be certain that an unbroken chain-of-title could be
established prior to making any purchase of residential real estate.

…for Scott Pelley, Robert G. Anderson and Daniel Ruetenik of 60
Minutes for their segments “The Hard Time Generation” and “The Next
Housing Shock.” Americans needed to see school buses stopping at
cheap motels in Orlando for children who have lost their homes and to
hear that the poverty rate for children in America would soon hit 25%.
For tens of thousands of people with mortgage documents signed by
Linda Green, the image of Chris Pendley forging Green’s name to
mortgage documents was the best possible confirmation that
something is rotten in the state of Denmark. This segment provided
the impetus for country recorders with conscience to take action
against mortgage fraud.

…for California Attorney General Kamala Harris for her
determination to investigate and expose the root causes of California’s
mortgage crisis by issuing subpoenas to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

…for U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan for
recognizing the significance of the Bank of America settlement when
he wrote, “This action concerns far more than the financial interests of
a few sophisticated investors,” and when he decided, “The intervention
of the state AGs in this action will protect the interests of absent
investors.” (Bank of New York Mellon v. Walnut Place, LLC, 11-cv-
05988, USDC, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

…for Academy Award Winning Director Charles H. Ferguson for
the movie Inside Job which documents the 2008 financial meltdown
and why it was avoidable. Ferguson himself has said that the film is
about the systemic corruption of the United Sates by the financial
services industry. There is a reason this film won the Academy Award
for Best Documentary as well as many other film critic awards. It is
chilling to watch.

…for filmmaker and author Michael Moore and his advocacy on behalf
of a nationwide moratorium on home foreclosures and his work to
expose “liar liens.”

…for Florida Appellate Court Judge Juan Ramirez, Jr., who wrote
in his dissent, “I dissent because I cannot condone the unprofessional
and unethical means used by the bank’s counsel, with the trial court’s
complicity, to obtain an amended final judgment in this case…This case
is the quintessential denial of due process. Due process requires
notice and an opportunity to be heard. Here appellant was granted
neither. A final judgment was amended from $216,485.73 to
$529,630.64, and the appellant was only informed after the fact when
he received the conformed copy in the mail…In my view, to affirm
what happened here requires that we turn a blind eye to the Florida
Rules of Civil Procedure, the Florida Bar Rules of Professional Conduct,
and the Code of Judicial Conduct, to say nothing of the Constitutions of
the United States and the State of Florida.” (Phillips v. Centennial
Bank, No. 3D10-2910, (Fla. 3rd DCA 2011).

…for Dylan Ratigan for making the word “fraudclosure” part of the
American vocabulary and for telling the story of tens of thousands of
American families impacted by fraudulent foreclosures when much of
the rest of the country would only focus on investors’ losses.

…for Max, April and Nye – because when everyone in a movement
knows you by your first name, you have fought the longest and been
an inspiration to the most.

…for Jack Wright who gives us MSFraud.org.

…for Massachusetts Land Court Judge Keith C. Long for his
careful, thoughtful common-sense ruling in the case of Antonio Ibanez,
a case eventually upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

…for the Bankruptcy Trustees and Judges including Hon. Tracey
Hope Davis (Northern District of New York), Hon. Martin Glenn
(Southern District of New York), Hon. Harry C. Dees, Jr. (Northern
District of Indiana), Hon. Diane Sigmund Weiss (Eastern District of
Pennsylvania), Hon. Joel B. Rosenthal (Massachusetts), Hon. Joan
M. Feeney (Massachusetts), and, of course, Hon. Christopher Boyko
(Ohio) for carefully scrutinizing the evidence presented by the banks
regarding ownership claims of notes and mortgages.

…for Hon. William G. Young of Massachusetts who put the blame
squarely on the legal profession, stating:

After 43 years at the bar, the saddest thing about this case is
the conduct of the lawyers — all the lawyers. A careful reading
of the briefs in this case reveals only a single recognition that
counsel did anything amiss in their misrepresentations to the
Bankruptcy Court. There’s blame aplenty, of course, each one
blaming everyone else — including the hapless bankrupt
homeowner. … How is it that our profession, the legal
profession —which could have and should have strongly
counseled against the self interested excesses that set up the
collapse — instead has eagerly aided and abetted those very
excesses? How could we (all of us who profess to be lawyers)
have fallen so low?” (In re Nosek, 386 B.R. 374 (Bankr. D.
Mass. 2008)

…for Neil Garfield and his Livinglies weblog for his endless efforts to
educate consumers and their lawyers on “the largest economic fraud in
human history.” Neil is the source of so much valuable information –
he is a one-man Consumer Protection Bureau and THE SOURCE for
foreclosure defense.

…for Michael Olenick of LegalPrise for building Findthefraud.com,
allowing citizen researchers the power to view documents quickly and
thoroughly, eliminating the impediments in the systems set up by
many county recorders.

…for the ACLU for fighting for the rights of homeowners and for
exposing courtroom injustices.

…for Floridians Lisa Epstein, Damian Figueroa, Michael Redman,
and Matt Weidner for speaking the truth on their blogs, at great
personal cost, assisting tens of thousands of citizens across the
country who educate themselves regarding foreclosure fraud and
injustice, and reporting what actually goes in in county courtrooms
every day.

…and finally, for JPM Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon for his definition of
foreclosure as debt relief, for BOA’s CEO Brian “We have a right to
make a profit” Moynihan, for the partiers at the Steven Baum
Halloween party, to Cheryl (“David Stern buys me a new BMW every
year”) Samons, for Stern crony Miriam (“Let ME find the fraud”)
Mendieta and for screaming Representative Joe Walsh, for illustrating
this quotation from historian David C. McCullough:

History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story
of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are
monsters, there is evil, there is betrayal. That’s why people
should read Shakespeare and Dickens as well as history – they
will find the best, the worst, the height of noble attainment and
the depths of depravity.

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