Posted on 21 December 2010.
Bank of America
JP Morgan Chase
Wells Fargo Bank
Action Date: December 20, 2010
Location: Mercer County, NJ
New Jersey State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner entered an order To Show Cause “In The Matter of Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Pleadings and Document Irregularities” in Civil Action No. F-059553-10, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, General Equity Part, Mercer County on December 20, 2010. Six mortgage servicing companies and their bank-owners were ordered to show cause why the Court should not suspend their rights to foreclose.
First on the list was Ally Financial, formerly known as GMAC. Ally/GMAC is the employer of Jeffrey Stephan who was exposed as one of many “robo-signers” – a phrase indicating that an employee signed thousands of documents used in foreclosure cases with no idea of the truth of the matters asserted in the documents, and more often than not, without even having read what was signed.
Stephan signed thousands of Affidavits, but he signed tens of thousands of Mortgage Assignments – the documents used by mortgage-backed trusts to show that the trusts acquired the mortgages at issue and have the right to foreclose.
Stephan signed these Mortgage Assignments for many different mortgage-backed trusts. Over 50 RALI (Residential Accredit Loans, Inc.) Trusts relied almost exclusively on Mortgage Assignments signed by Stephan. Over 44 RAMP (Residential Asset Mortgage Products) Trusts also used Assignments churned out by Stephan. At least 20 RASC (Residential Asset Securities Corp.) Trusts used Stephan assignments almost exclusively in foreclosures. At least 40 other mortgage-backed trusts, including certain Aames Mortgage Investment Trusts, certain Bear Stearns Trusts and certain Harborview Trusts all relied on Ally/GMAC’s Stephan for proof of their right to foreclose.
These trusts needed the Stephan-made assignments because the trusts’ depositors, sponsors, trustees and document custodians failed to obtain the critical documents, including notes and assignments, at the inception of the trust – despite promises to investors and regulators that these documents had been obtained and were being safeguarded.
In Florida, Stephan’s name appears on thousands of Mortgage Assignments, most often on documents prepared by the Law Offices of David Stern, who is under investigation by the Florida Attorney General. In almost every case, Stephans signed as a Vice President of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.
According to the Stephan documents, the trusts almost always acquired these mortgages AFTER they were already in default, and often AFTER foreclosure proceedings had been initiated.
Many different banks, in their capacity as Trustees for mortgage-backed trusts, used Stephan Assignments, but Stephan documents were most often used by Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Bank of NY Mellon and U.S. Bank.
Assuming that each trust has mortgage loans with a face value of one billion dollars – and that over 200 trusts are involved, the amount in controversy is staggering.
Also disturbing is the number of Assignments on Stephan/Stern documents where the assignee trust is unidentified. The Stephan/Stern team repeatedly prepared and filed Assignments where only the Trustees – and not the trusts themselves – were identified as the new owners of the mortgages. “U.S. Bank as Trustee” and “Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas as Trustee” are the new owners of thousands of mortgages.
Stephan often wrongly stated his own job title, the date the assignment to the trusts took place, and the identity of the trusts. Stephan’s conduct – and the documents he produced – will not stand up to the most superficial examination. Chief Justice Rabner seems determined to dig much deeper.
The other five companies named by Chief Justice Rabner have the very same problems, having produced hundreds of thousands of flawed loan documents for mortgage-backed trusts, signed by individuals with very limited knowledge or authority. Their role was to sign their names without questioning or understanding what they signed.
According to Chief Justice Rabner, the next step may be the Appointment of a Special Master “to inquire into and report to the court on the extent of irregularities concerning affidavits, certifications, assignments and other documents from time to time filed with the court in residential mortgage foreclosure actions…” Past and present business practices would be examined and the Master could also consider whether sanctions should be imposed…and a suggested formula to determine an appropriate sanction.”
By his Order, Chief Justice Rabner gave hope to hundreds of thousands of victims of fraud by securities companies, banks, mortgage companies and mortgage servicing companies.
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