William C. Hultman | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Tag Archive | "William C. Hultman"

Full Deposition of Michele Sjolander, Executive Vice President of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. “Stamp Endorsement”

Full Deposition of Michele Sjolander, Executive Vice President of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. “Stamp Endorsement”


Remember Michele Sjolander? Well, you can read about her in MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI

As well as in ARIZONA BK COURT ORDERS BONY MELLON TO PRODUCE ORIGINAL CUSTODIAN DOCUMENTS

and finally in the FULL DEPOSITION OF BANK OF AMERICA ROBO SIGNER RENEE D. HERTZLER

Fresh off the depo wagon comes her Full Deposition courtesy of 4closurefraud.

Excerpts:

Q It’s employees at Recontrust that stamp the
7 endorsements on the notes in general, including this one;
8 is that right?
9 A Yes.
10 Q And you’ve seen that taking place?
11 A Yes.
12 Q In Simi Valley?
13 A Yes.
14 Q Is there some type of manual or set of
15 instructions?
16 A They have my power of attorney.
17 Q Well, okay. That’s not what I’m asking. But I
18 do want to know about that. But what I’m saying: Is
19 there some sort of manual or instructions or –
20 A If you want to know the desk procedures, you
21 would have to speak with an associate of Recontrust.
22 Q Okay. Okay. Sorry. I’m just reading the notes
23 again. Now, I’m going to try to explain this. I may
24 have to do it a couple of times, but just bear with me.
25 And you’ve been very helpful so far. I appreciate it,
1 there it sat is I guess what I’m asking.
2 A In safekeeping, yes.
3 Q Okay. All right. Now, this is something you
4 touched on a minute ago. I’m going to try to phrase it
5 in a way that makes sense. Who — and let’s just deal
6 with Countrywide in 2007.
7 Who is allowed to be an endorser as you were? I
8 mean, who — let me leave it at that and see if that
9 makes sense to you.
10 A I don’t know what you’re asking.
11 Q What I’m saying is: Are there people other than
12 you at Countrywide in 2007 whose names would appear on a
13 note as an endorsement?
14 A For Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.?
15 Q Yes.
16 A In 2007, I was the endorser for Countrywide Home
17 Loans, Inc.
18 Q Okay. And, I mean, can you explain why you, in
19 particular? I mean, how is that established?
20 A Just lucky.
21 Q I mean, I know this is going to sound silly, but
22 was there some competition for it? Did they come to you
23 and say, “Ms. Sjolander, we choose you?” I mean, how did
24 you come to be designated the person?
25 A It is the position I held within Countrywide.
1 Q Okay. And did you know that going in; you know,
2 if you take this job, you’re going to be the endorser?
3 Was that explained to you at some point?
4 A I knew that my previous boss was the endorser,
5 yes.
6 Q Oh, okay. Now, we covered this, that other
7 people stamped your signature and the other — her name
8 is — oh, it’s Laurie Meder?
9 A Meder.
10 Q Okay. So other people have a stamp with her
11 name and your name on it, and how do those people have
12 the authority to put her name and your name on a note for
13 it to be an effective endorsement?
14 A With my name, they have a power of attorney.
15 Q And what does the power of attorney say?
16 A The power of attorney allows them to place my
17 endorsement stamp on collateral.
18 Q How do they come to have your power of attorney?
19 A I gave that to them.
20 Q But, I mean, in what sort of process? You know,
21 how does someone at Recontrust — I mean, I understand
22 that a power of attorney document exists, I’m assuming;
23 correct?
24 A Yes.
25 Q And how do those people come to operate under
1 it?
2 A It’s common, standard practice.
3 Q I may not be asking it quite right. I guess
4 what I’m asking is: Do they — the people who actually
5 use the stamps — is there more than one, or is there
6 just one stamp? I said “stamps” multiple. Is there only
7 one, or is there –
8 A No, there’s multiple stamps.
9 Q So do these people sign something that says, “I
10 understand I’m under Michele Sjolander’s power of
11 attorney”?
12 A Once again, you would have to look at the desk
13 procedures for Recontrust, and you would have to talk to
14 someone at Recontrust.
15 Q So that’s your understanding that you — did you
16 sign a power of attorney document?
17 A Yes, I did.
18 Q And, I mean, can you explain just in — you
19 know, in general, not word for word what it says, but
20 what does it purport to grant as power of attorney?
21 A It grants Recontrust. They can endorse and
22 assign notes on behalf of myself.
23 Q And do you know if this applies to a select
24 group of people?
25 A I do not have — I would have to read the
1 document.
2 Q Okay. But just to clarify, once again, you
3 don’t actually know the legal mechanism by which these
4 people with the stamps operate under this power of
5 attorney?
6 A As I said, I would have to go back through all
7 of the documentation that surrounds the power of
8 attorney, and Recontrust has desk procedures, and it
9 would be their procedures for them to assign that, to
10 place the stamp on the collateral.
11 Q And this was a procedure in 2007, what we’re
12 talking here is 2007?
13 A Correct.
14 Q And to the present?
15 A No.

<SNIP>

4 Q All of it, okay. Let’s see. Now, you mentioned
5 documents that you had reviewed. The AS-400, that’s a —
6 can you just refresh my memory? What was that again?
7 A A servicing system.
8 Q A servicing system, okay. Now, when you looked
9 over these records and documents before that you
10 mentioned before, where were you when you looked at
11 those?
12 A Simi Valley.
13 Q Simi Valley. And where were the documents that
14 you were looking at?
15 A At that time, they were brought into my office.
16 Q Do you have any idea where they were brought
17 from?
18 A They were printed off the system.
19 Q Printed off the system.
20 A From one of my associates.
21 Q Is that a computer system?
22 A As I said, the collateral tracking is printed
23 off the AS-400, which is our servicing system. The
24 investor number commitment was printed off — it’s a
25 web-based application from secondary marketing. It’s
1 printed off of that. The note was printed off of our
2 imaging system. And I think in this case I asked for a
3 copy of the note showing the endorsements, because in our
4 imaging system it does not — the note is actually imaged
5 prior to my endorsement stamp being in place. So I had
6 my associate contact the bank, which is Recontrust, to
7 get a copy of the original note to show my endorsement
8 stamps, because in imaging it is not shown.
9 Q So if a copy is made of a note that you got from
10 Recontrust, it doesn’t have an endorsement? Is that what
11 you’re saying?
12 A From our bank, it does. In our imaging system,
13 it does not. The note is imaged prior to an
14 endorsement — in ’07, the note is imaged prior to an
15 endorsement being placed on the note. So if you look in
16 our imaging system, you wouldn’t see the chain of title
17 of endorsement.
18 Q And where would you see that?
19 A On the original note.
20 Q Which is — which is where?
21 A In this case, it was in the Fannie Mae vault in
22 Simi Valley, California.
23 Q We’ll come back to the Fannie Mae vault. Okay.
24 So they’re printed off in AS-400 imaging system.
25 A AS-400 and the imaging system are two different
systems.
2 Q Oh, you said AS-400 is a servicing software
3 platform of some type?
4 A Yes.
5 Q And the imaging system, what — can you describe
6 that?
7 A It’s a —
8 Q You know —
9 A It’s when all of the collateral documents and
10 credit file documents are imaged after the closing of a
11 loan, and they are put in our imaging system, and we can
12 go into the system by loan number and pull up the
13 documentation of a loan —
14 Q I guess —
15 A — if you have access to the system.
16 Q But imaging, I mean, I’m imagining a scanner of
17 some sort. Is that what it is?
18 A It is not my area. I cannot tell you.

continue below…

[ipaper docId=86409969 access_key=key-1jwwt069dbt1xut3euia height=600 width=600 /]

 

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (8)

Full Deposition Transcript of ROY DIAZ Shareholder of Smith, Hiatt & Diaz, P.A. Law Firm

Full Deposition Transcript of ROY DIAZ Shareholder of Smith, Hiatt & Diaz, P.A. Law Firm


Excerpts:

Q. So through that corporate authority as
Exhibit 4 to this deposition, MERS assented to the terms
Of this assignment of mortgage?

A. Through me.

Q. So it was you that assented to the terms of
This assignment of mortgage.

A. The one in this case, yes.

Q. And no one else.

A. Correct

Q. And you signed as vice president of MERS
acting solely as a nominee for America’s Wholesale
Lender; is that correct?

A. Yes, it is.

Q. How did you know that MERS was nominee for
America’s Wholesale Lender?

A. By reviewing documentation.

Q. What documentation?

A. I don’t specifically recall what I reviewed
In this case to see that, to determine that, but I would
have reviewed either the mortgage or I would have
reviewed other documentation that would have established
that to me.

Q. So in this case you don’t remember a single
Document that you looked at that would establish the
Nominee status of MERS for America’s Wholesale Lenders;
Is that correct?

A. I don’t

Q. Did someone at America’s Wholesale Lender
Tell you that MERS was acting as the nominee?

A. No.

Q. Did someone at MERS tell you they were
Acting as Nominee for America’s Wholesale Lender?

A. NO.

Q. Was America’s Wholesale Lender in existence
On May 19, 2010?

A. don’t now.

Q. Did you check that before signing this
assignment of mortgage?

A. No.

<SNIP>

Q. Now, you’ve said you review the MERS
Website and you’ve seen documents like this, like
Composite Exhibit 6. Any reason why you wouldn’t review
the documents contained in Exhibit 6 before executing the
assignment of mortgage?

A. It’s not necessary.

Q. Why not?

A. Because it’s not. Because I decided it’s
not.

Q. You as vice president of MERS?

A. In every possible capacity as it relates to
This case.

Q. Did you sign this assignment of mortgage
after being retained as counsel for the plaintiff?

A. After my law firm was retained?

Q. (Nods head.)

A. Is that the question?

Q. Sure.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. So you executed an assignment to be
Used as evidence in your case, correct?

A. Sure.

Q. Is that a yes?

A. It’s a sure.

Q. Is that a yes o a no?

A. You said sure earlier. Was that a yes or a
No?

Q. Okay. So…

A. It’s a yes.

Q. It’s a yes.

And were you aware when you signed the
assignment of mortgage that MERS was a defendant in this
Case?

[ipaper docId=53916343 access_key=key-1rk8dl6pcjqgja1oy0ki height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (3)

MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI

MERS, Endorsed Note Get SLAMMED by Kings County NY Supreme Court | BANK of NEW YORK v. ALDERAZI


Decided on April 11, 2011

Supreme Court, Kings County

The Bank of New York, as Trustee for the Benefit of the Certificateholders, CWABS, Inc., Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2007-2, Plaintiff,

against

Sameeh Alderazi, Bank of America, NA, New York City Environmental Control Board, new York City Parking Violations Bureau, New York City Transit Adjudication Bureau, and “John Doe No.1” through “John Doe #10”, Defendants.

21739/2008

Plaintiff Attorney
Hiscock & Barclay
1100 M & T Center
3 Fountain Plaza
Buffalo, New York 14203-1486
Charles C. Martorana, Esq.

Plaintiff Former Attorney –
Frenkel, Lambert, Weiss, Weisman & Gordon, LLP
20 West Main Street
Bayshore, New York 11706 (631) 969-3100
Todd Falasco, Esq.

Wayne P. Saitta, J.

The Plaintiff renews its motion for an appointment of a referee in the underlying foreclosure action.

Upon reading the Notice of Motion and Affirmation of Charles C. Martorana Esq., of counsel to Hiscock and Barclay, LLP attorneys for Plaintiff, dated September 28 2010, and the exhibits annexed thereto; the Affirmation of Charles C. Martorana Esq., dated January 7, 2011; the Affirmation of Todd Falasco Esq., of counsel to Frenkel, Lambert, Weiss, Weisman, & Gordon, LLP,. Former attorneys for Plaintiff and the exhibits annexed thereto; the Affidavit of Jonathan Hyman sworn to February 10, 2011, and the exhibits annexed thereto; and upon all the proceedings heretofore had herein, and after hearing oral argument by Plaintiff’s counsel on March 3, 2011, and after due deliberation thereon, the motion is denied for the reasons set forth below.

The underlying action is a residential foreclosure action on a property located at 639 East 91st St. In Brooklyn. Plaintiff’s original application for the appointment of a referee to compute was denied by order of this court dated April 19, 2010. The Court denied the application because the Plaintiff, could not demonstrate that the original mortgagee, Countrywide Home Loans Inc., (doing business as America’s Wholesale Lender), had authorized the assignment of the mortgage to the Plaintiff.

The assignment to Plaintiff was executed by Mortgage Electronic Reporting System (MERS) as nominee for America’s Wholesale Lender.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a nominee as “[a] person designated to act in place of another, usually in a very limited way”.

In its Memoranda to its original motion , Plaintiff quoted the Court in Schuh Trading Co., v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 95 F.2d 404, 411 (7th Cir. 1938), which defined a nominee as follows:

The word nominee ordinarily indicates one designated to act for another as his representative in a rather limited sense. It is used sometimes to signify an agent or trustee. It has no connotation, however, other than that of acting for another, or as the grantee of another.. Id. ( Emphasis added).

An assignment by an agent without authority from the principal is a nullity. Plaintiff failed to provide any evidence that Countrywide had authorized MERS to assign its mortgage to Plaintiff. The Court denied the application with leave to renew upon a showing that Countrywide had authorized MERS to assign its mortgage to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff has again moved for an order of reference, and submitted in addition to the MERS assignment, what it purports to be an endorsed note and a corporate resolution of MERS showing that MERS had appointed all officers of Countrywide Financial Corporation as assistant secretaries and vice presidents of MERS.

This present motion must fail for the same reason as the prior motion as Plaintiff has failed to provide documentation from the lender that it authorized the assignment.

[*2]The Endorsed Note Plaintiff submits an affidavit from Sharon Mason, a vice president of BAC Home Loan Servicing LP (BAC), a servicer of the loan, in which she asserts, based upon Plaintiff’s, books and records, that at the time the action was commenced the original note bearing the endorsement of Countrywide was in Plaintiff’s possession.

Plaintiff also submits an affidavit from Jonathan Hyman, an officer of BAC, based on BAC’s records. Hyman asserts in his affidavit that the mortgage was assigned to Bank of New York and that “the original note was delivered and endorsed to the plaintiff with endorsement in the name of the plaintiff.” Hyman appends to his affidavit a copy of what purports to be an endorsed note.

The note contains a stamped endorsement which states, “Pay to the Order of * * without recourse Countrywide Home Loans Inc., A New York Corporation Doing Business As America’s Wholesale Lender By: Michele Sjolander Executive Vice President”. Under the stamp is handwritten ” * * The Bank of New York, as Trustee for the Benefit of the Certificate, CWABS, Inc. Asset Backed Certificates, Series 2007-2″. The endorsement is undated.

However, the note that was appended to the summons and complaint filed in court on July 25, 2008 does not bear any endorsement. Plaintiff has offered no explanation, from anyone with knowledge, as to why, had the note had been endorsed and in its possession when it commenced the suit, that the note filed when the suit was commenced did not bear an endorsement.

Significantly, counsel for Plaintiff stated in oral argument before the Court on March 3 2011 that “There is nobody left to speak at to Countrywide”.

The affidavits of Hyman and Mason, which were based on the books and records of the plaintiff and BAC, are insufficient to establish ownership of the note in light of the fact that the note originally submitted bore no endorsement, and the fact that purported endorsement is undated. The affidavits are based on books and records, not on personal knowledge. Yet the affiants did not produce any of the records on which they based their assertion that Plaintiff possessed an endorsed note at the time the action was commenced.

The Mortgage Assignment

In his affidavit Hyman also asserts that, Keri Selman, the person who signed the assignment, served as an officer of both Countrywide and MERS. He appended a copy of a MERS corporate resolution which appointed all officers of Countrywide Financial Corporation as assistant secretaries and vice presidents of MERS.

Even putting aside the fact that there is no evidence that Countrywide Financial Corporation and Countrywide Home Loans Inc., are the same entity, the fact that MERS authorized Countrywide officers to act on its behalf, is not evidence of the converse. It is no evidence that Countrywide authorized MERS officers to act as officers of Countrywide. Further, the fact that Selman may have been an officer of both Countrywide and MERS does not alter the fact that she executed the assignment on behalf of MERS.

The face of the assignment indicates that MERS is assigning the mortgage as nominee of America’s Wholesale Lender (a trade name of Countrywide), and more [*3]importantly that Selman executed the assignment as assistant vice president of MERS.

Hyman’s assertion that the assignment incorrectly lists Selman’s title as assistant vice president of MERS, instead of assistant secretary and vice president of MERS, is of no relevance other than to demonstrate the casual and cavalier manner in which these transactions have been conducted.

While Hyman further asserts in his affidavit that Selman “under her authority as an Assistant Secretary and Vice president of MERS, expedited the Assignment of Mortgage process on behalf of MERS, with the approval and for the benefit of Countrywide,” he provides no evidence that Countrywide in fact approved or authorized the assignment.

Similarly, William C. Hultman, Secretary and Treasurer of MERS, states in a conclusory fashion in paragraph 8 of his affidavit that Countrywide “instructed MERS to assign the Mortgage to Bank of New York” without offering the basis for that assertion, other than it role as nominee.

Plaintiff claims, that by the terms of the mortgage MERS as nominee, was granted the right “(A) to exercise any or all of those rights, including, but not limited to the right to foreclose and sell the Property, and (B) to take any action required of the Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.” However, this language is found on page two of the mortgage under the section “BORROWER’S TRANSFER TO LENDER OF RIGHTS IN THE PROPERTY” and therefore is facially an acknowledgment by the borrower. The fact that the borrower acknowledged and consented to MERS acting as nominee of the lender has no bearing on what specific powers and authority the lender granted MERS as nominee. The problem is not whether the borrower can object to the assignees’ standing, but whether the original lender, who is not before the Court, actually transferred its rights to the Plaintiff.

Furthermore, while the mortgage grants some rights to MERS it does not grant MERS the specific right to assign the mortgage. The only specific rights enumerated in the mortgage are the right to foreclose and sell the Property. The general language “to take any action required of the Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument” is not sufficient to give the nominee authority to alienate or assign a mortgage without getting the mortgagee’s explicit authority for the particular assignment.

The MERS Agreement

Plaintiff also argues that the agreement between MERs and its members grants MERS the authority to assign the mortgages of its members. However a reading of the MERS agreement reveals only that MERS can execute assignments on behalf of its members when directed to do so by the member or its servicer.

Plaintiff cites Rules of MERS membership, Rule 2 section 5. However what that rule requires is that a member to warrant to MERS that the mortgage either names MERS as mortgagee or that they prepare an assignment of mortgage naming MERs as mortgagee.

In this case MERS was named in paragraph (c) of the mortgage as Mortgagee of record for the purpose of recording the mortgage. Being the mortgagee of record for the [*4]purpose of recording the mortgage does not confer the right to assign the mortgage absent an instruction to do so from the lender. Paragraph 2 of the MERS terms and conditions provide that “MERS shall serve as mortgagee of record with respect to all such mortgage loans solely as a nominee in an administrative capacity”, and that “MERS agrees not to assert any rights (other than rights specified in the governing documents) with respect to such mortgage loans or mortgaged properties”. Assigning or alienating a mortgage without an explicit instruction from a lender to do so, is not acting in an administrative capacity.

Further, paragraph 6 of the terms and conditions provides that, “the MERS system is not a vehicle for creating or transferring beneficial interests in mortgage loans.” (emphasis added)

Lastly, Section 6 of the MERS agreement provides that MERS shall comply with the instructions from the holder of the notes and that in the absence of instructions from the holder may rely on instructions from the servicer with respect to transfers of beneficial ownership.

What the MERS agreements and terms and conditions provide, is that MERS may execute an assignment when instructed to do so by the lender or its servicer. This is nothing

more than saying that if granted authority by the lender, or its agent, to assign a mortgage, MERs can assign the mortgage on behalf of the lender.

To read the MERS agreement as granting MERS authority to assign any of the mortgages of its thousands of members, on its own volition, without the instruction or consent of the member would lead to a nonsensical result.

Plaintiff has failed to meet the very basic requirement that proof of an agent’s authority must be shown from the mouth of the principal not from the agent. Lexow & Jenkins, P.C. v. Hertz Commercial Leasing Corp., 122 AD2d 25, 504 N.Y.S.2d 192 (2nd Dept 1986), Siegel v. Kentucky Fried Chicken of Long Island, Inc., 108 AD2d 218, 488 N.Y.S.2d 744 (2nd Dept 1985).

As Plaintiff has not shown that it owned the note and mortgage, it has no standing to maintain this foreclosure action. Therefore the renewed motion for an order of reference must be denied and the action dismissed.

The Court has raised the standing issue sua sponte because, in this case, it goes to the integrity of the entire proceeding. For the court to allow a purported assignee to foreclose, in the absence of some proof that the original lender authorized the assignment of the mortgage to them, would cast doubt upon the validity of the title of any subsequent purchasers, should the original lender or successor challenge the assignment at a future date.

WHEREFORE it is hereby Ordered that Plaintiff’s motion for an Order of Reference is denied and the action is dismissed. This constitutes the decision and order of the Court.

[*5]

J.S.C.

[ipaper docId=52865705 access_key=key-yfyu5zdt3tz8gq9umaq height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (0)

BLOOMBERG | Merscorp Replaces Corporate Secretary William Hultman a Month After CEO Departs

BLOOMBERG | Merscorp Replaces Corporate Secretary William Hultman a Month After CEO Departs


By Prashant Gopal
Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) — Merscorp Inc., operator of the electronic mortgage-registration system under criticism by consumer advocates amid a probe into lender foreclosure errors, replaced Bill Hultman as its corporate secretary.

General Counsel Sharon Horstkamp is taking over the job, Karmela Lejarde, a spokeswoman for the Reston,Virginia-based company, said in an e-mail today. Hultman remains a senior vice president and corporate division manager, she said.

Merscorp has made a series of changes as courts debate what role it has, if any, in home foreclosures. Chief Executive Officer and President R.K. Arnold, who hired Hultman in 1998, retired last month. The company also is examining reforms, including a proposed rule change on the company’s website Feb. 16 that would stop members from foreclosing in its name.

“They’re trying to clean up their house,” said Christopher L. Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who has written law-review articles critical of the company. “I’m not sure Hultman was the problem.

It seems to me the problem is the business model.”

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (0)

BLOOMBERG | Merscorp Lacks Right to Transfer Mortgages, Judge Says

BLOOMBERG | Merscorp Lacks Right to Transfer Mortgages, Judge Says


Click this Link to read the entire opinion…in case you missed it over the weekend when SFF posted this hot off the press:

NY BK Court SHREDS MERS “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER MORTGAGES” In Re: FERREL L. AGARD

By Thom Weidlich – Feb 14, 2011 3:02 PM ET

(Corrects to show parties would come before the judge to lift the automatic ban in 20th paragraph.)

Merscorp Inc., operator of the electronic-registration system that contains about half of all U.S. home mortgages, has no right to transfer the mortgages under its membership rules, a judge said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Grossman in Central Islip, New York, in a decision he said he knew would have a “significant impact,” wrote that the membership rules of the company’s Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, don’t make it an agent of the banks that own the mortgages.

“MERS’s theory that it can act as a ‘common agent’ for undisclosed principals is not supported by the law,” Grossman wrote in a Feb. 10 opinion. “MERS did not have authority, as ‘nominee’ or agent, to assign the mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.”


© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (0)

NY BK Court SHREDS MERS “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER MORTGAGES” In Re: FERREL L. AGARD

NY BK Court SHREDS MERS “NO RIGHT TO TRANSFER MORTGAGES” In Re: FERREL L. AGARD


In re: FERREL L. AGARD, Debtor.

Case No. 810-77338-reg

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

Filed: February 10, 2011

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Before the Court is a motion (the “Motion”) seeking relief from the automatic stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1) and (2), to foreclose on a secured interest in the Debtor’s real property located in Westbury, New York (the “Property”). The movant is Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (“Select Portfolio” or “Movant”), as servicer for U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF12, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-FF12 (“U.S. Bank”). The Debtor filed limited opposition to the Motion contesting the Movant’s standing to seek relief from stay. The Debtor argues that the only interest U.S. Bank holds in the underlying mortgage was received by way of an assignment from the Mortgage Electronic Registration System a/k/a MERS, as a “nominee” for the original lender. The Debtor’s argument raises a fundamental question as to whether MERS had the legal authority to assign a valid and enforceable interest in the subject mortgage. Because U.S. Bank’s rights can be no greater than the rights as transferred by its assignor-MERS-the Debtor argues that the Movant, acting on behalf of U.S. Bank, has failed to establish that it holds an enforceable right against the Property.1 The Movant’s initial response to the Debtor’s opposition was that MERS’s authority to assign the mortgage to U.S. Bank is derived from the mortgage itself which allegedly grants to MERS its status as both “nominee” of the mortgagee and “mortgagee of record.” The Movant later supplemented its papers taking the position that U.S. Bank is a creditor with standing to seek relief from stay by virtue of a judgment of foreclosure and sale entered in its favor by the state court prior to the filing of the bankruptcy. The Movant argues that the judgment of foreclosure is a final adjudication as to U.S. Bank’s status as a secured creditor and therefore the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits this Court from looking behind the judgment and questioning whether U.S. Bank has proper standing before this Court by virtue of a valid assignment of the mortgage from MERS.

The Court received extensive briefing and oral argument from MERS, as an intervenor in these proceedings which go beyond the arguments presented by the Movant. In addition to the rights created by the mortgage documents themselves, MERS argues that the terms of its membership agreement with the original lender and its successors in interest, as well as New York state agency laws, give MERS the authority to assign the mortgage. MERS argues that it holds legal title to mortgages for its member/lenders as both “nominee” and “mortgagee of record.” As such, it argues that any member/lender which holds a note secured by real property, that assigns that note to another member by way of entry into the MERS database, need not also assign the mortgage because legal title to the mortgage remains in the name of MERS, as agent for any member/lender which holds the corresponding note. MERS’s position is that if a MERS member directs it to provide a written assignment of the mortgage, MERS has the legal authority, as an agent for each of its members, to assign mortgages to the member/lender currently holding the note as reflected in the MERS database.

For the reasons that follow, the Debtor’s objection to the Motion is overruled and the Motion is granted. The Debtor’s objection is overruled by application of either the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, or res judicata. Under those doctrines, this Court must accept the state court judgment of foreclosure as evidence of U.S. Bank’s status as a creditor secured by the Property. Such status is sufficient to establish the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. The Motion is granted on the merits because the Movant has shown, and the Debtor has not disputed, sufficient basis to lift the stay under Section 362(d).

Although the Court is constrained in this case to give full force and effect to the state court judgment of foreclosure, there are numerous other cases before this Court which present identical issues with respect to MERS and in which there have been no prior dispositive state court decisions. This Court has deferred rulings on dozens of other motions for relief from stay pending the resolution of the issue of whether an entity which acquires its interests in a mortgage by way of assignment from MERS, as nominee, is a valid secured creditor with standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. It is for this reason that the Court’s decision in this matter will address the issue of whether the Movant has established standing in this case notwithstanding the existence of the foreclosure judgment. The Court believes this analysis is necessary for the precedential effect it will have on other cases pending before this Court.

The Court recognizes that an adverse ruling regarding MERS’s authority to assign mortgages or act on behalf of its member/lenders could have a significant impact on MERS and upon the lenders which do business with MERS throughout the United States. However, the Court must resolve the instant matter by applying the laws as they exist today. It is up to the legislative branch, if it chooses, to amend the current statutes to confer upon MERS the requisite authority to assign mortgages under its current business practices. MERS and its partners made the decision to create and operate under a business model that was designed in large part to avoid the requirements of the traditional mortgage recording process. 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.

Facts

Procedural Background

On September 20, 2010, the Debtor filed for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. In Schedule A to the petition, the Debtor lists a joint ownership interest in the Property described as follows:

A “[s]ingle family home owned with son, deed in son’s name since 2007; used as primary residence…. Debtor was on original deed and is liable on the mortgage, therefore has equitable title. Debtor is in default of the mortgage with a principal balance of over $450,000.00. The house is worth approximately $350,000. A foreclosure sale was scheduled 9/21/10.”

According to Schedule D, the Property is valued at $350,000 and is encumbered by a mortgage in the amount of $536,920.67 held by “SPS Select Portfolio Servicing.”


On October 14, 2010, the Movant filed the Motion seeking relief from the automatic stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. §362(d) to foreclose on the Property. The Motion does not state that a foreclosure proceeding had been commenced or that a judgment of foreclosure was granted prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. Nor does it mention that the Debtor holds only equitable title and does not hold legal title to the Property. Instead, Movant alleges that U.S. Bank is the “holder” of the Mortgage; that the last mortgage payment it received from the Debtor was applied to the July, 2008 payment; and that the Debtor has failed to make any post-petition payments to the Movant. Movant also asserts that as of September 24, 2010, the total indebtedness on the Note and Mortgage was $542,902.33 and the Debtor lists the value of the Property at $350,000 in its schedules. On that basis, Movant seeks entry of an order vacating the stay pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1) and (d)(2).

Annexed to the Motion are copies of the following documents:

  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Adjustable Rate Note, dated June 9, 2006, executed by the Debtor as borrower and listing First Franklin a Division of Na. City Bank of In. (“First Franklin”) as the lender (“Note”);
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Balloon Note Addendum to the Note, dated June 9, 2006;
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Mortgage, dated June 9, 2006 executed by the Debtor and listing First Franklin as lender, and MERS as nominee for First Franklin and First Franklin’s successors and assigns (“Mortgage”);
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Adjustable Rate and Balloon Rider, dated June 9, 2006;
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Addendum to Promissory Note and Security Agreement executed by the Debtor; and
  • SPECIAL-CHARS-DOT Assignment of Mortgage, dated February 1, 2008, listing MERS as nominee for First Franklin as assignor, and the Movant, U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF12, Mortgage Pass-through Certificates, Series 2006-FF12, as assignee (“Assignment of Mortgage”).

The Arguments of the Parties

On October 27, 2010, the Debtor filed “limited opposition” to the Motion, alleging that the Movant lacks standing to seek the relief requested because MERS, the purported assignor to the Movant, did not have authority to assign the Mortgage and therefore the Movant cannot establish that it is a bona fide holder of a valid secured interest in the Property.

The Movant responded to the Debtor’s limited opposition regarding MERS’s authority to assign by referring to the provisions of the Mortgage which purport to create a “nominee” relationship between MERS and First Franklin. In conclusory fashion, the Movant states that it therefore follows that MERS’s standing to assign is based upon its nominee status.

On November 15, 2010, a hearing was held and the Court gave both the Debtor and Movant the opportunity to file supplemental briefs on the issues raised by the Debtor’s limited opposition.

On December 8, 2010, the Movant filed a memorandum of law in support of the Motion arguing that this Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate the issue of whether MERS had authority to assign the Mortgage, and even assuming the Court did have jurisdiction to decide this issue, under New York law the MERS assignment was valid. In support of its jurisdictional argument, the Movant advises the Court (for the first time) that a Judgement of Foreclosure and Sale (“Judgment of Foreclosure”) was entered by the state court in favor of the Movant on November 24, 2008, and any judicial review of the Judgment of Foreclosure is barred by the doctrines of res judicata, Rooker-Feldman, and judicial estoppel.2 The Movant argues that the Debtor had a full and fair opportunity to litigate these issues in state court, but chose to default, and cannot now challenge the state court’s adjudication as to the Movant’s status as a secured creditor or holder of the Note and Mortgage, or its standing to seek relief from the automatic stay in this Court. The Movant also notes that the Debtor admits in her petition and schedules that she is liable on the Mortgage, that it was in default and the subject of a foreclosure sale, and thus judicial estoppel bars her arguments to the contrary.

In addition to its preclusion arguments, on the underlying merits of its position the Movant cites to caselaw holding that MERS assignments similar to the assignment in this case, are valid and enforceable. See U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Flynn, 897 N.Y.S. 2d 855, 858 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010); Kiah v. Aurora Loan Services, LLC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121252, at *1 (D. Mass. Nov. 16, 2010); Perry v. Nat’l Default Servicing Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92907, at *1 (Dist. N.D. Cal. Aug. 20, 2010). It is the Movant’s position that the provisions of the Mortgage grant to MERS the right to assign the Mortgage as “nominee,” or agent, on behalf of the lender, First Franklin. Specifically, Movant relies on the recitations of the Mortgage pursuant to which the “Borrower” acknowledges that MERS holds bare legal title to the Mortgage, but has the right “(A) to exercise any or all those rights, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and (B) to take any action required of Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling [the Mortgage].” In addition, the Movant argues that MERS’s status as a “mortgagee” and thus its authority to assign the Mortgage is supported by the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (“RPAPL”) and New York Real Property Law (“RPL”). Movant cites to RPAPL § 1921-a which allows a “mortgagee” to execute and deliver partial releases of lien, and argues that MERS falls within the definition of “mortgagee” which includes the “current holder of the mortgage of record… or… their… agents, successors or assigns.” N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. Law § 1921(9)(a) (McKinney 2011). Although the definition of “mortgagee” cited to by the Movant only applies to RPAPL § 1921, Movant argues that it is a “mortgagee” vested with the authority to execute and deliver a loan payoff statement; execute and deliver a discharge of mortgage and assign a mortgage pursuant to RPL §§ 274 and 275.

In addition to its status as “mortgagee,” Movant also argues that the assignment is valid because MERS is an “agent” of each of its member banks under the general laws of agency in New York, see N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501(1) (McKinney 2011), 3 and public policy requires the liberal interpretation and judicial recognition of the principal-agent relationship. See Arens v. Shainswitt, 37 A.D.2d 274 (N.Y. App. Div. 1971), aff’d 29 N.Y.2d 663 (1971). In the instant case, Movant argues, the Mortgage appoints MERS as “nominee,” read “agent,” for the original lender and the original lender’s successors and assigns. As nominee/agent for the lender, and as mortgagee of record, Movant argues MERS had the authority to assign the Mortgage to the Movant, U.S. Bank, “in accordance with the principal’s instruction to its nominee MERS, to assign the mortgage lien to U.S. Bank….”


Finally, Movant argues that even absent a legally enforceable assignment of the Mortgage, it is entitled to enforce the lien because U.S. Bank holds the Note. The Movant argues that if it can establish that U.S. Bank is the legal holder the Note, the Mortgage by operation of law passes to the Movant because the Note and the Mortgage are deemed to be inseparable. See In re Conde-Dedonato, 391 B.R. 247 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2008). The Movant represents, but has not proven, that U.S. Bank is the rightful holder of the Note, and further argues that the assignment of the Note has to this point not been contested in this proceeding.

MERS moved to intervene in this matter pursuant to Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7024 because:

12. The Court’s determination of the MERS Issue directly affects the business model of MERS. Additionally, approximately 50% of all consumer mortgages in the United States are held in the name of MERS, as the mortgagee of record.

13. The Court’s determination of the MERS Issue will have a significant impact on MERS as well as the mortgage industry in New York and the United States.

14.MERS has a direct financial stake in the outcome of this contested matter, and any determination of the MERS Issue has a direct impact on MERS. (Motion to Intervene, ¶¶12-14).

Permission to intervene was granted at a hearing held on December 13, 2010.

In addition to adopting the arguments asserted by the Movant, MERS strenuously defends its authority to act as mortgagee pursuant to the procedures for processing this and other mortgages under the MERS “system.” First, MERS points out that the Mortgage itself designates MERS as the “nominee” for the original lender, First Franklin, and its successors and assigns. In addition, the lender designates, and the Debtor agrees to recognize, MERS “as the mortgagee of record and as nominee for ‘Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns'” and as such the Debtor “expressly agreed without qualification that MERS had the right to foreclose upon the premises as well as exercise any and all rights as nominee for the Lender.” (MERS Memorandum of Law at 7). These designations as “nominee,” and “mortgagee of record,” and the Debtor’s recognition thereof, it argues, leads to the conclusion that MERS was authorized as a matter of law to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank.

Although MERS believes that the mortgage documents alone provide it with authority to effectuate the assignment at issue, they also urge the Court to broaden its analysis and read the documents in the context of the overall “MERS System.” According to MERS, each participating bank/lender agrees to be bound by the terms of a membership agreement pursuant to which the member appoints MERS to act as its authorized agent with authority to, among other things, hold legal title to mortgages and as a result, MERS is empowered to execute assignments of mortgage on behalf of all its member banks. In this particular case, MERS maintains that as a member of MERS and pursuant to the MERS membership agreement, the loan originator in this case, First Franklin, appointed MERS “to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee on First Franklin’s behalf, and on behalf of First Franklin’s successors and assigns.” MERS explains that subsequent to the mortgage’s inception, First Franklin assigned the Note to Aurora Bank FSB f/k/a Lehman Brothers Bank (“Aurora”), another MERS member. According to MERS, note assignments among MERS members are tracked via self-effectuated and self-monitored computer entries into the MERS database. As a MERS member, by operation of the MERS membership rules, Aurora is deemed to have appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee. Aurora subsequently assigned the Note to U.S. Bank, also a MERS member. By operation of the MERS membership agreement, U.S. Bank is deemed to have appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee. Then, according to MERS, “U.S. Bank, as the holder of the note, under the MERS Membership Rules, chose to instruct MERS to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank prior to commencing the foreclosure proceedings by U.S. Bank.” (Affirmation of William C. Hultman, ¶ 12).

MERS argues that the express terms of the mortgage coupled with the provisions of the MERS membership agreement, is “more than sufficient to create an agency relationship between MERS and lender and the lender’s successors in interest” under New York law and as a result establish MERS’s authority to assign the Mortgage. (MERS Memorandum of Law at 7).

On December 20, 2010, the Debtor filed supplemental opposition to the Motion. The Debtor argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine should not preclude judicial review in this case because the Debtor’s objection to the Motion raises issues that could not have been raised in the state court foreclosure action, namely the validity of the assignment and standing to lift the stay. The Debtor also argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not apply because the Judgment of Foreclosure was entered by default. Finally, she also argues that the bankruptcy court can review matters “which are void or fraudulent on its face.” See In re Ward, 423 B.R. 22 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2010). The Debtor says that she is “alleging questionable, even possibly fraudulent conduct by MERS in regards to transferring notes and lifting the stay.” (Debtor’s Supplemental Opposition at 3).

The Movant filed supplemental papers on December 23, 2010 arguing that the Motion is moot because the Property is no longer an asset of the estate as a result of the Chapter 7 Trustee’s “report of no distribution,” and as such, the Section 362(a) automatic stay was dissolved upon the entry of a discharge on December 14, 2010. See Brooks v. Bank of New York Mellon, No. DKC 09-1408, 2009 WL 3379928, at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 16, 2009); Riggs Nat’l Bank of Washington, D.C. v. Perry, 729 F.2d 982, 986 (4th Cir. 1984).

The Movant also maintains that Rooker-Feldman does apply to default judgments because that doctrine does not require that the prior judgment be a judgment “on the merits.” Charchenko v. City of Stillwater, 47 F.3d 981, 983 n.1 (8th Cir. 1995); see also Kafele v. Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss, L.P.A., No. 04-3659, 2005 WL 3528921, at *2-3 (6th Cir. Dec. 22, 2005); In re Dahlgren, No. 09-18982, 2010 WL 5287400, at *1 (D.N.J. Dec. 17, 2010). The Movant points out that the Debtor seems to be confusing the Rooker-Feldman doctrine with issue and claim preclusion and that the Debtor has misapplied Chief Judge Craig’s ruling in In re Ward.

Discussion

As a threshold matter, this Court will address the Movant’s argument that this Motion has been mooted by the entry of the discharge order.

Effect of the Chapter 7 discharge on the automatic stay

Section 362(c) provides that:

Except as provided in subsections (d), (e), (f), and (h) of this section–

(1) the stay of an act against property of the estate under subsection (a) of this section continues until such property is no longer property of the estate;

(2) the stay of any other act under subsection (a) of this section continues until the earliest of–
(A) the time the case is closed;

(B) the time the case is dismissed; or

(C) if the case is a case under chapter 7 of this title concerning an individual or a case under chapter 9, 11, 12, or 13 of this title, the time a discharge is granted or denied;

11 U.S.C. § 362(c) (emphasis added).

Pursuant to Section 362(c)(1), the automatic stay which protects “property of the estate,” as opposed to property of the debtor, continues until the property is no longer property of the estate regardless of the entry of the discharge. The provision of the statute relied upon by the Movant for the proposition that the automatic stay terminates upon the entry of a discharge, relates only to the stay of “any other act under subsection(a), “, i.e., an act against property that is not property of the estate, i.e., is property “of the debtor.” The relationship between property of the estate and property of the debtor is succinctly stated as follows:

Property of the estate consists of all property of the debtor as of the date of the filing of the petition. 11 U.S.C. § 541. It remains property of the estate until it has been exempted by the debtor under § 522, abandoned by the trustee under § 554(a), or sold by the trustee under § 363. If property of the estate is not claimed exempt, sold, or abandoned by the trustee, it is abandoned to the debtor at the time the case is closed if the property was scheduled under § 521(1). If the property is not scheduled by the debtor and is not otherwise administered, it remains property of the estate even after the case has been closed.

If the property in question is property of the estate, it remains subject to the automatic stay until it becomes property of the debtor and until the earlier of the time the case was closed, the case is dismissed, or a discharge is granted or denied in a chapter 7 case.

In re Pullman, 319 B.R. 443, 445 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 2004).

Movant’s position seems to be that the Chapter 7 Trustee’s filing of a “report of no distribution,” otherwise known as a “no asset report,” effectuated an abandonment of the real property at issue in this case, and therefore the Property has reverted back to the Debtor. However, Movant fails to cite the relevant statute. Section 554(c) provides that “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, any property scheduled under section 521(1) of this title not otherwise administered at the time of the closing of a case is abandoned to the debtor and administered for purposes of section 350 of this title.” 11 U.S.C. § 554(c) (emphasis added); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 6007. Cases interpreting Section 554(c) hold that the filing of a report of no distribution does not effectuate an abandonment of estate property. See, e.g., In re Israel, 112 B.R. 481, 482 n.3 (Bankr. D. Conn. 1990) (“The filing of a no-asset report does not close a case and therefore does not constitute an abandonment of property of the estate.”) (citing e.g., Zlogar v. Internal Revenue Serv. (In re Zlogar), 101 B.R. 1, 3 n.3 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1989); Schwaber v. Reed (In re Reed), 89 B.R. 100, 104 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 1988); 11 U.S.C. § 554(c)).

Because the real property at issue in this case has not been abandoned it remains property of the estate subject to Section 362(a) unless and until relief is granted under Section 362(d).

Rooker-Feldman and res judicata4

The Movant argues that U.S. Bank’s status as a secured creditor, which is the basis for its standing in this case, already has been determined by the state court and that determination cannot be revisited here. The Movant relies on both the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and res judicata principles to support this position.

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is derived from two Supreme Court cases, Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983), which together stand for the proposition that lower federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to sit in direct appellate review of state court judgments. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a narrow jurisdictional doctrine which is distinct from federal preclusion doctrines. See McKithen v. Brown, 481 F.3d 89, 96-97 (2d Cir. 2007) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005), and Hoblock v. Albany County Board of Elections, 422 F.3d 77, 85 (2d Cir. 2005)). In essence, the doctrine bars “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments. Rooker-Feldman does not otherwise override or supplant preclusion doctrine or augment the circumscribed doctrines that allow federal courts to stay or dismiss proceedings in deference to state-court actions.” Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at 283.

The Second Circuit has delineated four elements that must be satisfied in order for Rooker-Feldman to apply:

First, the federal-court plaintiff must have lost in state court. Second, the plaintiff must “complain [] of injuries caused by [a] state-court judgment[.]” Third, the plaintiff must “invit[e] district court review and rejection of [that] judgment [].” Fourth, the state-court judgment must have been “rendered before the district court proceedings commenced”-i.e., Rooker-Feldman has no application to federal-court suits proceeding in parallel with ongoing state-court litigation. The first and fourth of these requirements may be loosely termed procedural; the second and third may be termed substantive.

McKithen, 481 F.3d at 97 (internal citation omitted and alteration in original) (quoting Hoblock,422 F.3d at 85).

In a case with facts similar to the instant case, Chief Judge Craig applied the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to overrule a debtor’s objection to a motion for relief from the automatic stay. See In re Ward, 423 B.R. 22 (Bankr. E.D.N.Y. 2010). In In re Ward, a foreclosure sale was conducted prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. When the successful purchaser sought relief from stay in the bankruptcy case to proceed to evict the debtor, the debtor opposed the motion. The debtor argued that the foreclosure judgment was flawed because “no original note was produced”, “the mortgage was rescinded”, “the plaintiff in the action doesn’t exist” or “was not a proper party to the foreclosure action”, and that “everything was done irregularly and underneath [the] table.” In re Ward, 423 B.R. at 27. Chief Judge Craig overruled the debtor’s opposition and found that each of the elements of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine were satisfied:

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies in this case because the Debtor lost in the state court foreclosure action, the Foreclosure Judgment was rendered before the Debtor commenced this case, and the Debtor seeks this Court’s review of the Foreclosure Judgment in the context of her opposition to the Purchaser’s motion for relief from the automatic stay. The injury complained of, i.e., the foreclosure sale to the Purchaser, was “caused by” the Foreclosure Judgment because “the foreclosure [sale] would not have occurred but-for” the Foreclosure Judgment. Accordingly, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not permit this Court to disregard the Foreclosure Judgment.

In re Ward, 423 B.R. at 28 (citations omitted and alteration in original).

In the instant case, the Debtor argues that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not apply because the Judgment of Foreclosure was entered on default, not on the merits. She also argues that Rooker-Feldman should not apply because she is alleging that the Judgment of Foreclosure was procured by fraud in that the MERS system of mortgage assignments was fraudulent in nature or void. However, this Court is not aware of any exception to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine for default judgments, or judgments procured by fraud and the Court will not read those exceptions into the rule. See Salem v. Paroli, 260 B.R. 246, 254 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (applying Rooker-Feldman to preclude review of state court default judgment); see also Lombard v. Lombard, No. 00-CIV-6703 (SAS), 2001 WL 548725, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 2001) (applying Rooker-Feldman to preclude review of stipulation of settlement executed in connection with state court proceeding even though applicant argued that the stipulation should be declared null and void because he was under duress at the time it was executed).

The Debtor also argues that Rooker-Feldman does not apply in this case because she is not asking this Court to set aside the Judgment of Foreclosure, but rather is asking this Court to make a determination as to the Movant’s standing to seek relief from stay. The Debtor argues that notwithstanding the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the bankruptcy court must have the ability to determine the standing of the parties before it.

Although the Debtor says she is not seeking affirmative relief from this Court, the net effect of upholding the Debtor’s jurisdictional objection in this case would be to deny U.S. Bank rights that were lawfully granted to U.S. Bank by the state court. This would be tantamount to a reversal which is prohibited by Rooker-Feldman.

Even if Rooker-Feldman were found not to apply to this determination, the Court still would find that the Debtor is precluded from questioning U.S. Bank’s standing as a secured creditor under the doctrine of res judicata. The state court already has determined that U.S. Bank is a secured creditor with standing to foreclose and this Court cannot alter that determination in order to deny U.S. Bank standing to seek relief from the automatic stay.

The doctrine of res judicata is grounded in the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. It prevents a party from re-litigating any issue or defense that was decided by a court of competent jurisdiction and which could have been raised or decided in the prior action. See Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 789 (2d Cir. 1994) (applying New York preclusion rules); Swiatkowski v. Citibank, No. 10-CV-114, 2010 WL 3951212, at *14 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 7, 2010) (citing Waldman v. Vill. of Kiryas Joel, 39 F.Supp.2d 370, 377 (S.D.N.Y. 1999)). Res judicata applies to judgments that were obtained by default, see Kelleran v. Andrijevic, 825 F.2d 692, 694-95 (2d Cir. 1987), but it may not apply if the judgment was obtained by extrinsic fraud or collusion. “Extrinsic fraud involves the parties’ ‘opportunity to have a full and fair hearing, ‘ while intrinsic fraud, on the other hand, involves the ‘underlying issue in the original lawsuit.'” In re Ward, 423 B.R. at 29. The Debtor’s assertions that the MERS system of assignments may have been fraudulent is more appropriately deemed an intrinsic fraud argument. The Debtor has not alleged any extrinsic fraud in the procurement of the Judgment of Foreclosure which prevented a full and fair hearing before the state court.

As a result, the Court finds that the Judgment of Foreclosure alone is sufficient evidence of the Movant’s status as a secured creditor and therefore its standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. On that basis, and because the Movant has established grounds for relief from stay under Section 362(d), the Motion will be granted.

MERS

Because of the broad applicability of the issues raised in this case the Court believes that it is appropriate to set forth its analysis on the issue of whether the Movant, absent the Judgment of Foreclosure, would have standing to bring the instant motion. Specifically MERS’s role in the ownership and transfer of real property notes and mortgages is at issue in dozens of cases before this Court. As a result, the Court has deferred ruling on motions for relief from stay where the movants’ standing may be affected by MERS’s participation in the transfer of the real property notes and mortgages. In the instant case, the issues were resolved under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and the application of res judicata. Most, if not all, of the remainder of the “MERS cases” before the Court cannot be resolved on the same basis. For that reason, and because MERS has intervened in this proceeding arguing that the validity of MERS assignments directly affects its business model and will have a significant impact on the national mortgage industry, this Court will give a reasoned opinion as to the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the stay and how that standing is affected by the fact that U.S. Bank acquired its rights in the Mortgage by way of assignment from MERS.

Standing to seek relief from the automatic stay

The Debtor has challenged the Movant’s standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. Standing is a threshold issue for a court to resolve. Section 362(d) states that relief from stay may be granted “[o]n request of a party in interest and after notice and a hearing.” 11 U.S.C. § 362(d). The term “party in interest” is not defined in the Bankruptcy Code, however the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has stated that “[g]enerally the ‘real party in interest’ is the one who, under the applicable substantive law, has the legal right which is sought to be enforced or is the party entitled to bring suit.” See Roslyn Savings Bank v. Comcoach (In re Comcoach), 698 F.2d 571, 573 (2d Cir. 1983). The legislative history of Section 362 “suggests that, notwithstanding the use of the term ‘party in interest’, it is only creditors who may obtain relief from the automatic stay.” Id. at 573-74. (citing H.R. Rep. No. 95-595, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 175, reprinted in 1978 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad. News 5787, 6136); see also Greg Restaurant Equip. And Supplies v. Toar Train P’ship (In re Toar Train P’ship), 15 B.R. 401, 402 (Bankr. D. Vt.1981) (finding that a judgment creditor of the debtor was not a “party in interest” because the judgment creditor was not itself a direct creditor of the bankrupt).

Using the standard established by the Second Circuit, this Court must determine whether the Movant is the “one who, under applicable substantive law, has the legal right” to enforce the subject Note and Mortgage, and is therefore a “creditor” of this Debtor. See In re Toar, 15 B.R. at 402; see also In re Mims, 438 B.R. 52, 55 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2010). The Bankruptcy Code defines a “creditor” as an “entity that has a claim against the debtor that arose at the time of or before the order for relief….” 11 U.S.C. § 101(10). “Claim” is defined as the “right to payment, whether or not such right is reduced to judgment, liquidated, unliquidated, fixed, contingent, matured, unmatured, disputed, undisputed, legal, equitable, secured or unsecured….” 11 U.S.C. § 101(5)(A). In the context of a lift stay motion where the movant is seeking to commence or continue with an action to foreclose a mortgage against real property, the movant must show that it is a “party in interest” by showing that it is a creditor with a security interest in the subject real property. See Mims, 438 B.R. at 57 (finding that as movant “failed to prove it owns the Note, it has failed to establish that it has standing to pursue its state law remedies with regard to the Mortgage and Property”). Cf. Brown Bark I L.P. v. Ebersole (In re Ebersole), 440 B.R. 690, 694 (Bankr. W.D. Va. 2010) (finding that movant seeking relief from stay must prove that it is the holder of the subject note in order to establish a ‘colorable claim’ which would establish standing to seek relief from stay).

Noteholder status

In the Motion, the Movant asserts U.S. Bank’s status as the “holder” of the Mortgage. However, in order to have standing to seek relief from stay, Movant, which acts as the representative of U.S. Bank, must show that U.S. Bank holds both the Mortgage and the Note. Mims, 438 B.R. at 56. Although the Motion does not explicitly state that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note, it is implicit in the Motion and the arguments presented by the Movant at the hearing. However, the record demonstrates that the Movant has produced no evidence, documentary or otherwise, that U.S. Bank is the rightful holder of the Note. Movant’s reliance on the fact that U.S. Bank’s noteholder status has not been challenged thus far does not alter or diminish the Movant’s burden to show that it is the holder of the Note as well as the Mortgage.
Under New York law, Movant can prove that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note by providing the Court with proof of a written assignment of the Note, or by demonstrating that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note endorsed over to it. See, eg., LaSalle Bank N.A. v. Lamy, 824 N.Y.S.2d 769, 2006 WL 2251721, at *1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 7, 2006). The only written assignment presented to the Court is not an assignment of the Note but rather an “Assignment of Mortgage” which contains a vague reference to the Note. Tagged to the end of the provisions which purport to assign the Mortgage, there is language in the Assignment stating “To Have and to Hold the said Mortgage and Note, and also the said property until the said Assignee forever, subject to the terms contained in said Mortgage and Note.” (Assignment of Mortgage (emphasis added)). Not only is the language vague and insufficient to prove an intent to assign the Note, but MERS is not a party to the Note and the record is barren of any representation that MERS, the purported assignee, had any authority to take any action with
respect to the Note. Therefore, the Court finds that the Assignment of Mortgage is not sufficient to establish an effective assignment of the Note.

By MERS’s own account, it took no part in the assignment of the Note in this case, but merely provided a database which allowed its members to electronically self-report transfers of the Note. MERS does not confirm that the Note was properly transferred or in fact whether anyone including agents of MERS had or have physical possession of the Note. What remains undisputed is that MERS did not have any rights with respect to the Note and other than as described above, MERS played no role in the transfer of the Note.

Absent a showing of a valid assignment of the Note, Movant can demonstrate that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note if it can show that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note endorsed to its name. See In re Mims, 423 B.R. at 56-57. According to the evidence presented in this matter the manner in which the MERS system is structured provides that, “[w]hen the beneficial interest in a loan is sold, the promissory note is [] transferred by an endorsement and delivery from the buyer to the seller [sic], but MERS Members are obligated to update the MERS® System to reflect the change in ownership of the promissory note….” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 6). However, there is nothing in the record to prove that the Note in this case was transferred according to the processes described above other than MERS’s representation that its computer database reflects that the Note was transferred to U.S. Bank. The Court has no evidentiary basis to find that the Note was endorsed to U.S. Bank or that U.S. Bank has physical possession of the Note. Therefore, the Court finds that Movant has not satisfied its burden of showing that U.S. Bank, the party on whose behalf Movant seeks relief from stay, is the holder of the Note.

Mortgagee status

The Movant’s failure to show that U.S. Bank holds the Note should be fatal to the Movant’s standing. However, even if the Movant could show that U.S. Bank is the holder of the Note, it still would have to establish that it holds the Mortgage in order to prove that it is a secured creditor with standing to bring this Motion before this Court. The Movant urges the Court to adhere to the adage that a mortgage necessarily follows the same path as the note for which it stands as collateral. See Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Perry, 875 N.Y.S.2d 853, 856 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2009). In simple terms the Movant relies on the argument that a note and mortgage are inseparable. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. 271, 274 (1872). While it is generally true that a mortgage travels a parallel path with its corresponding debt obligation, the parties in this case have adopted a process which by its very terms alters this practice where mortgages are held by MERS as “mortgagee of record.” By MERS’s own account, the Note in this case was transferred among its members, while the Mortgage remained in MERS’s name. MERS admits that the very foundation of its business model as described herein requires that the Note and Mortgage travel on divergent paths. Because the Note and Mortgage did not travel together, Movant must prove not only that it is acting on behalf of a valid assignee of the Note, but also that it is acting on behalf of the valid assignee of the Mortgage.5

MERS asserts that its right to assign the Mortgage to U.S. Bank in this case, and in what it estimates to be literally millions of other cases, stems from three sources: the Mortgage documents; the MERS membership agreement; and state law. In order to provide some context to this discussion, the Court will begin its analysis with an overview of mortgage and loan processing within the MERS network of lenders as set forth in the record of this case.

In the most common residential lending scenario, there are two parties to a real property mortgage-a mortgagee, i.e., a lender, and a mortgagor, i.e., a borrower. With some nuances and allowances for the needs of modern finance this model has been followed for hundreds of years. The MERS business plan, as envisioned and implemented by lenders and others involved in what has become known as the mortgage finance industry, is based in large part on amending this traditional model and introducing a third party into the equation. MERS is, in fact, neither a borrower nor a lender, but rather purports to be both “mortgagee of record” and a “nominee” for the mortgagee. MERS was created to alleviate problems created by, what was determined by the financial community to be, slow and burdensome recording processes adopted by virtually every state and locality. In effect the MERS system was designed to circumvent these procedures. MERS, as envisioned by its originators, operates as a replacement for our traditional system of public recordation of mortgages.

Caselaw and commentary addressing MERS’s role in the mortgage recording and foreclosure process abound. See Christopher L. Peterson, Foreclosure, Subprime Mortgage Lending, and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, 78 U. Cin. L. Rev. 1359 (2010). In a 2006 published opinion, the New York Court of Appeals described MERS system as follows:

In 1993, the MERS system was created by several large participants in the real estate mortgage industry to track ownership interests in residential mortgages.

Mortgage lenders and other entities, known as MERS members, subscribe to the MERS system and pay annual fees for the electronic processing and tracking of ownership and transfers of mortgages. Members contractually agree to appoint MERS to act as their common agent on all mortgages they register in the MERS system.

The initial MERS mortgage is recorded in the County Clerk’s office with ‘Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.’ named as the lender’s nominee or mortgagee of record on the instrument. During the lifetime of the mortgage, the beneficial ownership interest or servicing rights may be transferred among MERS members (MERS assignments), but these assignments are not publicly recorded; instead they are tracked electronically in MERS’s private system. In the MERS system, the mortgagor is notified of transfers of servicing rights pursuant to the Truth in Lending Act, but not necessarily of assignments of the beneficial interest in the mortgage.

Merscorp, Inc., v. Romaine, 8 N.Y.3d 90 (N.Y. 2006) (footnotes omitted).

In the words of MERS’s legal counsel, “[t]he essence of MERS’ business is to hold legal title to beneficial interests under mortgages and deeds of trust in the land records. The MERS® System is designed to allow its members, which include originators, lenders, servicers, and investors, to accurately and efficiently track transfers of servicing rights and beneficial ownership.” (MERS Memorandum of Law at 5). The MERS® System “… eliminate[s] the need for frequent, recorded assignments of subsequent transfers.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 4). “Prior to MERS, every time a loan secured by a mortgage was sold, the assignee would need to record the assignment to protect the security interest. If a servicing company serviced the loan and the servicing rights were sold,-an event that could occur multiple times during the life of a single mortgage loan-multiple assignments were recorded to ensure that the proper servicer appeared in the land records in the County Clerk’s office.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 4-5).

“When the beneficial interest in a loan is sold, the promissory note is still transferred by an endorsement and delivery from the buyer to the seller, but MERS Members are obligated to update the MERS® System to reflect the change in ownership of the promissory note…. So long as the sale of the note involves a MERS Member, MERS remains the named mortgagee of record, and continues to act as the mortgagee, as the nominee for the new beneficial owner of the note (and MERS’ Member). The seller of the note does not and need not assign the mortgage because under the terms of that security instrument, MERS remains the holder of title to the mortgage, that is, the mortgagee, as the nominee for the purchaser of the note, who is then the lender’s successor and/or assign.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 6). “At all times during this process, the original mortgage or an assignment of the mortgage to MERS remains of record in the public land records where the security real estate is located, providing notice of MERS’s disclosed role as the agent for the MERS Member lender and the lender’s successors and assigns.” (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶9).

MERS asserts that it has authority to act as agent for each and every MERS member which claims ownership of a note and mortgage registered in its system. This authority is based not in the statutes or caselaw, but rather derives from the terms and conditions of a MERS membership agreement. Those terms and conditions provide that “MERS shall serve as mortgagee of record with respect to all such mortgage loans solely as a nominee, in an administrative capacity, for the beneficial owner or owners thereof from time to time.” (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶5). MERS “holds the legal title to the mortgage and acts as the agent or nominee for the MERS Member lender, or owner of the mortgage loan.” (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶6). According to MERS, it is the “intent of the parties… for MERS to serve as the common nominee or agent for MERS Member lenders and their successors and assigns.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 19) (emphasis added by the Court). “Because MERS holds the mortgage lien for the lender who may freely transfer its interest in the note, without the need for a recorded assignment document in the land records, MERS holds the mortgage lien for any intended transferee of the note.” (MERS Supplemental Memorandum of Law at 15) (emphasis added by the Court). If a MERS member subsequently assigns the note to a non-MERS member, or if the MERS member which holds the note decides to foreclose, only then is an assignment of the mortgage from MERS to the noteholder documented and recorded in the public land records where the property is located. (Declaration of William C. Hultman, ¶12).

Before commenting on the legal effect of the MERS membership rules or the alleged “common agency” agreement created among MERS members, the Court will review the relevant portions of the documents presented in this case to evaluate whether the documentation, on its face, is sufficient to prove a valid assignment of the Mortgage to U.S. Bank.

The Mortgage

First Franklin is the “Lender” named in the Mortgage. With reference to MERS’s role in the transaction, the Mortgage states:

MERS is a separate corporation that is acting solely as a nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors and assigns. MERS is organized and existing under the laws of Delaware, and has an address and telephone number of P.O. Box 2026, Flint, MI 48501-2026, tel. (888) 679 MERS. FOR PURPOSES OF RECORDING THIS MORTGAGE, MERS IS THE MORTGAGEE OF RECORD.

(Mortgage at 1 (emphasis added by the Court)).

The Mortgage also purports to contain a transfer to MERS of the Borrower’s (i.e., the Debtor’s) rights in the subject Property as follows:

BORROWER’S TRANSFER TO LENDER OF RIGHTS IN THE PROPERTY

[The Borrower] mortgage[s], grant[s] and convey[s] the Property to MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors in interest) and its successors in interest subject to the terms of this Security Instrument. This means that, by signing this Security Instrument, [the Borrower is] giving Lender those rights that are stated in this Security Instrument and also those rights that Applicable Law gives to lenders who hold mortgage on real property. [The Borrower is] giving Lender these rights to protect Lender from possible losses that might result if [the Borrower] fail[s] to [comply with certain obligations under the Security Instrument and accompanying Note.]

[The Borrower] understand[s] and agree[s] that MERS holds only legal title to the rights granted by [the Borrower] in this Security Instrument, but, if necessary to comply with law or custom, MERS (as nominee for Lender and Lenders’s successors and assigns) has the right: (A) to exercise any or all those rights, including, but not limited to, the right to foreclose and sell the Property; and (B) to take any action required of Lender including, but not limited to, releasing and canceling this Security Instrument.

[The Borrower gives] MERS (solely as nominee for Lender and Lender’s successors in interest), rights in the Property…

(Mortgage at 3) (emphasis added).

The Assignment of Mortgage references the Mortgage and defines the “Assignor” as “‘Mers’ Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., 2150 North First Street, San Jose, California 95131, as nominee for First Franklin, a division of National City Bank of IN, 2150 North First Street San Jose, California 95153.” (Emphasis added by the Court). The “Assignee” is U.S. Bank.

Premised on the foregoing documentation, MERS argues that it had full authority to validly execute the Assignment of Mortgage to U.S. Bank on February 1, 2008, and that as of the date the foreclosure proceeding was commenced U.S. Bank held both the Note and the Mortgage. However, without more, this Court finds that MERS’s “nominee” status and the rights bestowed upon MERS within the Mortgage itself, are insufficient to empower MERS to effectuate a valid assignment of mortgage.

There are several published New York state trial level decisions holding that the status of “nominee” or “mortgagee of record” bestowed upon MERS in the mortgage documents, by itself, does not empower MERS to effectuate an assignment of the mortgage. These cases hold that MERS may not validly assign a mortgage based on its nominee status, absent some evidence of specific authority to assign the mortgage. See Bank of New York v. Mulligan, No. 29399/07, 2010 WL 3339452, at *7 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 25, 2010); One West Bank, F.S.B. v. Drayton, 910 N.Y.S.2d 857, 871 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010); Bank of New York v. Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d 821, 824 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (the “party who claims to be the agent of another bears the burden of proving the agency relationship by a preponderance of the evidence”); HSBC Bank USA v. Yeasmin, No. 34142/07, 2010 WL 2089273, at *3 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 24, 2010); HSBC Bank USA v. Vasquez, No. 37410/07, 2009 WL 2581672, at *3 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 21, 2010); LaSalle Bank N.A. v. Lamy, 824 N.Y.S.2d 769, 2006 WL 2251721, at *2 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 7, 2006) (“A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee.”). See also MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (“MERS’s only right is to record the mortgage. Its designation as the ‘mortgagee of record’ in the document does not change or expand that right…”). But see US Bank, N.A. v. Flynn, 897 N.Y.S.2d 855 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (finding that MERS’s “nominee” status and the mortgage documents give MERS authority to assign); Crum v. LaSalle Bank, N.A., No. 2080110, 2009 WL 2986655, at *3 (Ala. Civ. App., Sept. 18, 2009) (finding MERS validly assigned its and the lender’s rights to assignee); Blau v. America’s Servicing Company, et al., No. CV-08-773-PHX-MHM, 2009 WL 3174823, at *8 (D. Ariz. Sept. 29, 2009) (finding that assignee of MERS had standing to foreclose).

In LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute, No. 41583/07, 2010 WL 3359552, at *2 (N.Y. Sup. Aug. 26, 2010), the court analyzed the relationship between MERS and the original lender and concluded that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves. The court stated:

MERS… recorded the subject mortgage as “nominee” for FFFC. The word “nominee” is defined as “[a] person designated to act in place of another, usu. in a very limited way” or “[a] party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 1076 [8th ed 2004]). “This definition suggests that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves.” (Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 289 Kan 528, 538 [2009]). The Supreme Court of Kansas, in Landmark National Bank, 289 Kan at 539, observed that:

The legal status of a nominee, then, depends on the context of the relationship of the nominee to its principal. Various courts have interpreted the relationship of MERS and the lender as an agency relationship. See In re Sheridan, 2009 WL631355, at *4 (Bankr. D. Idaho, March 12, 2009) (MERS “acts not on its own account. Its capacity is representative.”); Mortgage Elec. Registrations Systems, Inc. v. Southwest, 2009 Ark. 152 -, 301 SW3d 1, 2009 WL 723182 (March 19, 2009) (“MERS, by the terms of the deed of trust, and its own stated purposes, was the lender’s agent”); La Salle Nat. Bank v. Lamy, 12 Misc.3d 1191[A], at *2 [Sup Ct, Suffolk County 2006])… (“A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee.”).

LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute, No. 41583/07, 2010 WL 3359552, at *2; see also Bank of New York v. Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d 821, 823 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010) (nominee is “‘[a] person designated to act in place of another, usually in a very limited way.'”) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary)).

In LaSalle Bank, N.A. v. Bouloute the court concluded that MERS must have some evidence of authority to assign the mortgage in order for an assignment of a mortgage by MERS to be effective. Evidence of MERS’s authority to assign could be by way of a power of attorney or some other document executed by the original lender. See Bouloute, 2010 WL 3359552, at *1; Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d at 823 (“‘To have a proper assignment of a mortgage by an authorized agent, a power of attorney is necessary to demonstrate how the agent is vested with the authority to assign the mortgage.'”) (quoting HSBC Bank USA, NA v. Yeasmin, 866 N.Y.S.2d 92 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2008)).

Other than naming MERS as “nominee”, the Mortgage also provides that the Borrower transfers legal title to the subject property to MERS, as the Lender’s nominee, and acknowledges MERS’s rights to exercise certain of the Lender’s rights under state law. This too, is insufficient to bestow any authority upon MERS to assign the mortgage. In Bank of New York v. Alderazi, the court found “[t]he fact that the borrower acknowledged and consented to MERS acting as nominee of the lender has no bearing on what specific powers and authority the lender granted MERS.” Alderazi, 900 N.Y.S.2d at 824. Even if it did bestow some authority upon MERS, the court in Alderazi found that the mortgage did not convey the specific right to assign the mortgage.

The Court agrees with the reasoning and the analysis in Bouloute and Alderazi, and the other cases cited herein and finds that the Mortgage, by naming MERS a “nominee,” and/or “mortgagee of record” did not bestow authority upon MERS to assign the Mortgage.

The MERS membership rules

According to MERS, in addition to the alleged authority granted to it in the Mortgage itself, the documentation of the Assignment of Mortgage comports with all the legal requirements of agency when read in conjunction with the overall MERS System. MERS’s argument requires that this Court disregard the specific words of the Assignment of Mortgage or, at the very least, interpret the Assignment in light of the overall MERS System of tracking the beneficial interests in mortgage securities. MERS urges the Court to look beyond the four corners of the Mortgage and take into consideration the agency relationship created by the agreements entered into by the lenders participating in the MERS System, including their agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions of membership.

MERS has asserted that each of its member/lenders agrees to appoint MERS to act as its agent. In this particular case, the Treasurer of MERS, William C. Hultman, declared under penalty of perjury that “pursuant to the MERS’s Rules of Membership, Rule 2, Section 5… First Franklin appointed MERS to act as its agent to hold the Mortgage as nominee on First Franklin’s behalf, and on behalf of First Franklin’s successors and assigns.” (Affirmation of William C. Hultman, ¶7).

However, Section 5 of Rule 2, which was attached to the Hultman Affirmation as an exhibit, contains no explicit reference to the creation of an agency or nominee relationship. Consistent with this failure to explicitly refer to the creation of an agency agreement, the rules of membership do not grant any clear authority to MERS to take any action with respect to the mortgages held by MERS members, including but not limited to executing assignments. The rules of membership do require that MERS members name MERS as “mortgagee of record” and that MERS appears in the public land records as such. Section 6 of Rule 2 states that “MERS shall at all times comply with the instructions of the holder of mortgage loan promissory notes,” but this does not confer any specific power or authority to MERS.

State law

Under New York agency laws, an agency relationship can be created by a “manifestation of consent by one person to another that the other shall act on his behalf and subject to his control, and the consent by the other to act.” Meisel v. Grunberg, 651 F.Supp.2d 98, 110 (S.D.N.Y. 2009) (citing N.Y. Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Tradeline, L.L.C., 266 F.3d 112, 122 (2d Cir.2001)).

‘Such authority to act for a principal may be actual or apparent.’… Actual authority arises from a direct manifestation of consent from the principal to the agent…. The existence of actual authority ‘depends upon the actual interaction between the putative principal and agent, not on any perception a third party may have of the relationship.’

Meisel v. Grunberg, 651 F.Supp.2d at 110 (citations omitted).

Because MERS’s members, the beneficial noteholders, purported to bestow upon MERS interests in real property sufficient to authorize the assignments of mortgage, the alleged agency relationship must be committed to writing by application of the statute of frauds. Section 5-703(2) of the New York General Obligations Law states that:

An estate or interest in real property, other than a lease for a term not exceeding one year, or any trust or power, over or concerning real property, or in any manner relating thereto, cannot be created, granted, assigned, surrendered or declared, unless by act or operation of law, or by a deed or conveyance in writing, subscribed by the person creating, granting, assigning, surrendering or declaring the same, or by his lawful agent, thereunto authorized by writing.

See N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-703(1) (McKinney 2011); Republic of Benin v. Mezei, No. 06 Civ. 870 (JGK), 2010 WL 3564270, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 9, 2010); Urgo v. Patel, 746 N.Y.S.2d 733 (N.Y. App. Div. 2002) (finding that unwritten apparent authority is insufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds) (citing Diocese of Buffalo v. McCarthy, 91 A.D.2d 1210 (4th Dept. 1983)); see also N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501 (McKinney 2011) (“‘agent’ means a person granted authority to act as attorney-in-fact for the principal under a power of attorney…”). MERS asks this Court to liberally interpret the laws of agency and find that an agency agreement may take any form “desired by the parties concerned.” However, this does not free MERS from the constraints of applicable agency laws.

The Court finds that the record of this case is insufficient to prove that an agency relationship exists under the laws of the state of New York between MERS and its members. According to MERS, the principal/agent relationship among itself and its members is created by the MERS rules of membership and terms and conditions, as well as the Mortgage itself. However, none of the documents expressly creates an agency relationship or even mentions the word “agency.” MERS would have this Court cobble together the documents and draw inferences from the words contained in those documents. For example, MERS argues that its agent status can be found in the Mortgage which states that MERS is a “nominee” and a “mortgagee of record.” However, the fact that MERS is named “nominee” in the Mortgage is not dispositive of the existence of an agency relationship and does not, in and of itself, give MERS any “authority to act.” See Steinbeck v. Steinbeck Heritage Foundation, No. 09-18360cv, 2010 WL 3995982, at *2 (2d Cir. Oct. 13, 2010) (finding that use of the words “attorney in fact” in documents can constitute evidence of agency but finding that such labels are not dispositive); MERS v. Saunders, 2 A.3d 289, 295 (Me. 2010) (designation as the ‘mortgagee of record’ does not qualify MERS as a “mortgagee”). MERS also relies on its rules of membership as evidence of the agency relationship. However, the rules lack any specific mention of an agency relationship, and do not bestow upon MERS any authority to act. Rather, the rules are ambiguous as to MERS’s authority to take affirmative actions with respect to mortgages registered on its system.

In addition to casting itself as nominee/agent, MERS seems to argue that its role as “mortgagee of record” gives it the rights of a mortgagee in its own right. MERS relies on the definition of “mortgagee” in the New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law Section 1921 which states that a “mortgagee” when used in the context of Section 1921, means the “current holder of the mortgage of record… or their agents, successors or assigns.” N.Y. Real Prop. Acts. L. § 1921 (McKinney 2011). The provisions of Section 1921 relate solely to the discharge of mortgages and the Court will not apply that definition beyond the provisions of that section in order to find that MERS is a “mortgagee” with full authority to perform the duties of mortgagee in its own right. Aside from the inappropriate reliance upon the statutory definition of “mortgagee,” MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best.

Adding to this absurdity, it is notable in this case that the Assignment of Mortgage was by MERS, as nominee for First Franklin, the original lender. By the Movant’s and MERS’s own admission, at the time the assignment was effectuated, First Franklin no longer held any interest in the Note. Both the Movant and MERS have represented to the Court that subsequent to the origination of the loan, the Note was assigned, through the MERS tracking system, from First Franklin to Aurora, and then from Aurora to U.S. Bank. Accordingly, at the time that MERS, as nominee of First Franklin, assigned the interest in the Mortgage to U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank allegedly already held the Note and it was at U.S. Bank’s direction, not First Franklin’s, that the Mortgage was assigned to U.S. Bank. Said another way, when MERS assigned the Mortgage to U.S. Bank on First Franklin’s behalf, it took its direction from U.S. Bank, not First Franklin, to provide documentation of an assignment from an entity that no longer had any rights to the Note or the Mortgage. The documentation provided to the Court in this case (and the Court has no reason to believe that any further documentation exists), is stunningly inconsistent with what the parties define as the facts of this case.

However, even if MERS had assigned the Mortgage acting on behalf of the entity which held the Note at the time of the assignment, this Court finds that MERS did not have authority, as “nominee” or agent, to assign the Mortgage absent a showing that it was given specific written directions by its principal.

This Court finds that MERS’s theory that it can act as a “common agent” for undisclosed principals is not support by the law. The relationship between MERS and its lenders and its distortion of its alleged “nominee” status was appropriately described by the Supreme Court of Kansas as follows: “The parties appear to have defined the word [nominee] in much the same way that the blind men of Indian legend described an elephant-their description depended on which part they were touching at any given time.” Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2010).

Conclusion

For all of the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the Motion in this case should be granted. However, in all future cases which involve MERS, the moving party must show that it validly holds both the mortgage and the underlying note in order to prove standing before this Court.

Dated: Central Islip, New York February 10, 2011
Hon. Robert E. Grossman, Bankruptcy Judge

——–
Notes:

1. The Debtor also questions whether Select Portfolio has the authority and the standing to seek relief from the automatic stay. The Movant argues that Select Portfolio has standing to bring the Motion based upon its status as “servicer” of the Mortgage, and attaches an affidavit of a vice president of Select Portfolio attesting to that servicing relationship. Caselaw has established that a mortgage servicer has standing to seek relief from the automatic stay as a party in interest. See, e.g., Greer v. O’Dell, 305 F.3d 1297 (11th Cir. 2002); In re Woodberry, 383 B.R. 373 (Bankr. D.S.C. 2008). This presumes, however, that the lender for whom the servicer acts validly holds the subject note and mortgage. Thus, this Decision will focus on whether U.S. Bank validly holds the subject note and mortgage.

2. The Judgment of Foreclosure names the Debtor and an individual, Shelly English, as defendants. Shelly English is the Debtor’s daughter-in-law. At a hearing held on December 13, 2010, the Debtor’s counsel stated that he “believed” the Debtor transferred title to the Property to her son, Leroy English, in 2007. This is consistent with information provided by the Debtor in her petition and schedules. Leroy English, however, was not named in the foreclosure action. No one in this case has addressed the issue of whether the proper parties were named in the foreclosure action. However, absent an argument to the contrary, this Court can only presume that the Judgment of Foreclosure is a binding final judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction.

3. Movant cites to New York General Obligations Law for the proposition that “an agency agreement may take any form ‘desired by the parties concerned.'” The direct quote “desired by the parties concerned” seems to be attributed to the General Obligations Law citation, however, the Court could find no such language in the current version of § 5-1501(1). That provision, rather, defines an agent as “a person granted authority to act as attorney-in-fact for the principal under a power of attorney, and includes the original agent and any co-agent or successor agent. Unless the context indicates otherwise, an ‘agent’ designated in a power of attorney shall mean ‘attorney-in-fact’ for the purposes of this title. An agent acting under a power of attorney has a fiduciary relationship with the principal.” N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 5-1501(1) (McKinney 2011) (emphasis added).

4. Because the Debtor’s objection is overruled under Rooker-Feldman and res judicata, the Court will not address the merits of the Movant’s judicial estoppel arguments.

5. MERS argues that notes and mortgages processed through the MERS System are never “separated” because beneficial ownership of the notes and mortgages are always held by the same entity. The Court will not address that issue in this Decision, but leaves open the issue as to whether mortgages processed through the MERS system are properly perfected and valid liens. See Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. at 274 (finding that an assignment of the mortgage without the note is a nullity); Landmark Nat’l Bank v. Kesler, 216 P.3d 158, 166-67 (Kan. 2009) (“[I]n the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable”).

in re: AGARD New York Bankruptcy Case

[ipaper docId=48696398 access_key=key-1pyj91zniq8e4gdszuq4 height=600 width=900 /]

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (2)

PARTIAL TESTIMONY OF MERS’ WILLIAM C. HULTMAN BEFORE HOUSE COURTS Of JUSTICE COMMITTEE

PARTIAL TESTIMONY OF MERS’ WILLIAM C. HULTMAN BEFORE HOUSE COURTS Of JUSTICE COMMITTEE


Excerpt:

COMMITTEE MEMBER: Can you explain what you are in
4 relation to that?

5 MR. HULTMAN: We’re the beneficiary, but we’re an
6 agent of the lender. So instead of having two — one party be
7 both the payee on the note and the beneficiary in deed of
8 trust, we’re the beneficiary as their agent. In other words,
9 we’re holding title to the mortgage lien on their behalf.
10 COMMITTEE MEMBER: Through this process called
11 nominee?

12 MR. HULTMAN: Well, nominee is just another word for
13 agent.

Continue below…

After you read the transcript, you might be interested in reading the post below

Lender can’t modify the mortgage without the “mortgagee’s” consent

[ipaper docId=47186388 access_key=key-dtq9qgi10yhubp35jev height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

Bills May Mean GOOD BYE For MERS In Virginia

Bills May Mean GOOD BYE For MERS In Virginia


“Not only do banks and mortgage lenders oppose the bill, a Reston-based corporation known as MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) is battling it.”

Va. bills slow foreclosures

Updated: Monday, 17 Jan 2011, 7:59 PM EST
Published : Monday, 17 Jan 2011, 7:59 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia House and Senate bills are taking aim at “drive-by foreclosures” by big banks without judicial review and aggravated by incomplete records.

Witnesses at a hearing on some of the legislation Monday told chilling, tearful tales of giant banks foreclosing on their homes, then had to deal with conflicting statements by an unconcerned bureaucracy when they tried to contact their lenders and reason with them.

The legislation is in the works because of the flood of foreclosures that resulted from the 2008 mortgage lending industry collapse.

The bills would slow the state’s swift foreclosure pace. They would increase the time for required foreclosure notice from two weeks to 30 or 45 days. That would give borrowers time to locate records and hire attorneys to challenge foreclosures if necessary.

Link to bills introduced to the 2011 Virginia legislative session –

keyword search: Foreclosure; Deed of Trust; Assignment –

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?111+men+SRB

Who are my Virginia legislators, and how to contact them:

http://legis.virginia.gov/1_cit_guide/contacting_my.html

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (1)

MERS Signing Agreements /Corporate Resolutions Signed Using Stamps

MERS Signing Agreements /Corporate Resolutions Signed Using Stamps


The various signatures and time frames below.

Notice the handwritten signatures have turned to stamps.

Question: What happens if these stamps go lost or stolen?

Please hit email a tip located above this page  if you have any of these handy.

VP/SECRETARY/ TREASURER WILLIAM C. HULTMAN

.

VICE PRESIDENT SHARON HORSTKAMP

.

Enter the STAMP

These two Corporate Documents were located in two separate states thousands of miles across from each other .

.

Related:

MERS 101

.

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in assignment of mortgage, Christopher Peterson, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, investigation, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., robo signers, William C. HultmanComments (2)

WANTED: MERS CORPORATE RESOLUTION and SIGNING AGREEMENTS

WANTED: MERS CORPORATE RESOLUTION and SIGNING AGREEMENTS


Please send me any Corporate Resolutions or Signing Agreements you may have. These were provided mainly to Vendors/ Foreclosure Mills. Not easy to get but also not impossible.

Please use Email a Tip above this page.

I really want the Signatures of Both Sharon M. Hostkamp & William C. Hultman


What does the Corporate Resolution look like?

CORPORATE RESOLUTION

Be it Resolved that the attached list of candidates are employees of (Insert Name of MERS Member), a Member of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), and are hereby appointed as assistant secretaries and vice presidents of MERS, and, as such, are authorized to:

(1) Release the lien of any mortgage loan registered on the MERS® System that is shown to be registered to the Member;

(2) Assign the lien of any mortgage loan naming MERS as the mortgagee when the Member is also the current promissory note-holder, or if the mortgage loan is registered on the MERS® System, is shown to be registered to the Member;

(3) Execute any and all documents necessary to foreclose upon the property securing any mortgage loan registered on the MERS® System that is shown to be registered to the Member, including but not limited to (a) substitution of trustee on Deeds of Trust, (b) Trustee’s Deeds upon sale on behalf of MERS, (c) Affidavits of Non-military Status, (d) Affidavits of Judgment, (e) Affidavits of Debt, (f) quitclaim deeds, (g) Affidavits
regarding lost promissory notes, and (h) endorsements of promissory notes to VA or HUD on behalf of MERS as a required part of the claims process;

(4) Take any and all actions and execute all documents necessary to protect the interest of the Member, the beneficial owner of such mortgage loan, or MERS in any bankruptcy proceeding regarding a loan registered on the MERS® System that is shown to be registered to the Member, including but not limited to: (a) executing Proofs of Claim and Affidavits of Movant under 11 U.S.C. Sec. 501-502, Bankruptcy Rule 3001-3003, and applicable local bankruptcy rules, (b) entering a Notice of Appearance, (c) vote for a trustee of the estate of the debtor, (d) vote for a committee of creditors, (e) attend the meeting of creditors of the debtor, or any adjournment thereof, and vote on behalf of the Member, the beneficial owner of such mortgage loan, or MERS, on any question that may be lawfully submitted before creditors in such a meeting, (f) complete, execute, and return a ballot accepting or rejecting a plan, and (g) execute reaffirmation agreements;

(5) Take any and all actions and execute all documents necessary to refinance, subordinate, amend or modify any mortgage loan registered on the MERS® System that is shown to be registered to the Member.

(6) Endorse checks made payable to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. to the Member that are received by the Member for payment on any mortgage loan registered on the MERS® System that is shown to be registered to the Member;

(7) Take any such actions and execute such documents as may be necessary to fulfill the Member’s servicing obligations to the beneficial owner of such mortgage loan (including mortgage loans that are removed from the MERS® System as a result of the transfer thereof to a non-member of MERS).

I, William C. Hultman, being the Corporate Secretary of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of a Resolution duly adopted by the Board of Directors of said corporation effective as of the day of , which is in full force and effect on this date and does not conflict with the Certificate of Incorporation or By-Laws of said corporation.

____________________________________
William C. Hultman, Secretary

Excellent resource on MERS below from the law department:

[ipaper docId=38684960 access_key=key-20yk59rxvs8krda8j6gv height=600 width=600 /]


© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in assignment of mortgage, foreclosure, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, investigation, Karen M. Horstkamp, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, Wall Street, William C. HultmanComments Off on WANTED: MERS CORPORATE RESOLUTION and SIGNING AGREEMENTS

EXPLOSIVE!!!! OHIO DA Identifies That Mers Did Not Re-Assign the Loans

EXPLOSIVE!!!! OHIO DA Identifies That Mers Did Not Re-Assign the Loans


THANK YOU OHIO!!!!!

[ipaper docId=38483422 access_key=key-13uu0x1ihls0jhiwn2w6 height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in assignment of mortgage, chain in title, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, district attorney, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, MERS, MERSCORP, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., Wall Street, William C. HultmanComments (2)

BREAKING NEWS: SECTRETARY of STATE OHIO:CHASE HOME FINANCE & MERS ABUSE!!

BREAKING NEWS: SECTRETARY of STATE OHIO:CHASE HOME FINANCE & MERS ABUSE!!


For Immediate Release

SECRETARY BRUNNER OUTLINES TWO LINES OF ATTACK IN FIGHTING HIGH OHIO FORECLOSURE RATES

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Ohio’s chief elections officer and the state officer responsible for licensing notary publics, today issued a directive to boards of elections that foreclosures cannot be used without further investigation to disqualify voters and revealed that she has referred specific instances of notary abuse occurring at Chase Home Mortgage in Columbus and by the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) to a federal prosecutor for investigation.

DIRECTIVE ON VOTERS FACING FORECLOSURES: Secretary Brunner, in Directive 2010-66, instructed Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections that they may not cancel an Ohioan’s voter registration based solely on the fact that the person is involved in the foreclosure process.  The filing of a foreclosure action does not affect a voter’s right to vote until there is a final judgment entry, including the passage of at least 30 days from the date of the entry because of the right of appeal, and verification that the person no longer resides at the property. Ohio continues to experience high residential foreclosure rates.

Those who lose their homes because of foreclosure may wait until Election Day to update their address. Boards are instructed in the directive how to help voters displaced because of foreclosure, based on whether they move (1) within the same precinct, (2) within the same county but to a different precinct, or (3) to a different county in Ohio.  Voters facing foreclosure may use their current location of residence as their residence for the purposes of voting.

REFERRAL OF CHASE HOME MORTGAGE AND MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. TO FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Secretary Brunner, in two letters dated Aug. 11, 2010 and Sept. 1, 2010, referred matters of alleged notary abuse in thousands of home mortgage foreclosures by Chase Home Mortgage and the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. to U.S. District Attorney Steven Dettelbach in Cleveland. Citing two depositions, (one & two) of Chase employee Beth Cottrell, taken in Columbus in May of 2010, and a deposition of MERS Secretary and Treasurer, William Hultman taken in New Jersey in April of 2010.  These depositions contain sworn testimony that at Chase Home Mortgage, 18,000 documents per month are executed and notarized per month by eight people, with admissions that:

  1. it is the notary and not the document signer who gives an oath who fills in numbers in the affidavits used in court ordered foreclosures,
  2. no oath is administered for the signing of each document,
  3. notarized documents are not verified by the person signing and giving oath that they have personal knowledge of the contents of the documents, but rather, signers are relying on verification by others,
  4. documents are signed in bulk and notarized in bulk separately,
  5. notaries know this at the time they notarize documents in this process.

The MERS deposition of William Hultman demonstrates that after corporate status changes occurred for MERS, new designations of authority were not executed, leaving one or more individuals for the former MERS corporation continuing to delegate authority on behalf of the new corporation without authorization by the new corporation.

According to its website: “MERS was created by the mortgage banking industry to streamline the mortgage process by using electronic commerce to eliminate paper…MERS acts as nominee in the county land records for the lender and servicer. Any loan registered on the MERS® System is inoculated against future assignments because MERS remains the nominal mortgagee no matter how many times servicing is traded. MERS as original mortgagee (MOM) is approved by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, FHA and VA, California and Utah Housing Finance Agencies, as well as all of the major Wall Street rating agencies.”
MERS was created by the mortgage lending industry to:

  1. eliminate frequent re-recording of liens,
  2. avoid paying county recorder fees and other local taxes as mortgage loans are assigned as backing or securitization for derivatives trading by banks and other financial institutions,
  3. monitor and facilitate the transfer of original mortgage notes in the trading of mortgage-backed securities,
  4. foreclose on mortgage notes for unnamed note holders, even though it is not the real financial party in interest and does not hold the original note for the mortgage.

Currently, over half of all new residential mortgage loans in the U.S. are registered with MERS and recorded in county recording offices in MERS’ name, reducing transparency, leaving consumers unable to determine who actually holds the note on their homes.

Secretary Brunner made the following statement on the situation:
“Mortgage foreclosure documents must be notarized according to the law. Requiring this is not an afterthought or an exercise of form over substance—the law must be followed when taking away someone’s home, regardless of the circumstances.

For too long thousands of homes have been taken from consumers without proof that the foreclosing party actually has that right. Our courts must be cautious and require absolute adherence to the law. As the officer in Ohio who licenses notaries, I cannot stand idly by and watch financial institutions concoct a chain of title they never had by abusing the notary process.

It’s not fair to consumers or to the employees who by virtue of their jobs, are signing these documents. I urge the U.S. Department of Justice to take up this investigation with vigor and purpose to protect consumers and hold financial institutions to the standards of scrutiny and exactitude required by law, even if it means prosecuting some of our largest corporations. These apparent violations of state law point to schemes that merit federal investigation of large institution lending practices and use of the U.S. Postal Service.”

Last week, GMAC Mortgage announced it had suspended evictions and post-foreclosure closings in 23 states over concerns about employees preparing foreclosures with affidavits submitted to judges containing information they did not personally verify. Yesterday it was announced that JPMorgan Chase and Co hired external counsel to review its affidavit process based on the depositions of Beth Cottrell and is delaying approximately 56,000 current foreclosure proceedings.

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in assignment of mortgage, Beth Cottrell, chain in title, chase, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, deposition, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, forgery, GMAC, investigation, MERS, MERSCORP, Moratorium, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD, William C. HultmanComments (3)

NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS

NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS


NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS

By DinSFLA

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc (MERS) has a very long history. The beginning stages have remained a mystery until now.

In 1989, Brian Hershkowitz developed the “Whole Loan Book Entry” concept while serving as a director for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). In 1990, he first introduced this concept to seven different industry groups; Document Custodian, Originators, Servicers, Title Insurers, County Recorders, Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) and Warehouse/Interim Lenders. The reception was very positive and it was viewed as a very useful recording system to be used for how equity and debt securities could be identified and managed.

In 1991, Mr. Hershkowtiz published Farming It Out in Mortgage Banking Magazine. His main discussion in this article is primarily about getting the opinion of the experts in the technology outsourcing service industry. In 1992, Mr. Hershkowitz published another article called Cutting Edge Solutions in Mortgage Banking Magazine. In this particular article he mentions the actual meeting that took place at the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA) headquarters with many key players that are known today as some of MERSCORP’s shareholders, such as, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this meeting they discussed a “System” that will bring changes in mortgage records.

Mr. Hershkowitz went on to become President and COO of LandSafe Credit, a leading settlement service provider that was a subsidiary of Countrywide. Mr. Hershkowitz also spent several years serving Countrywide in the areas of strategic planning and executive management.

In 2001, Mr. Hershkowitz became Executive Vice President at Fidelity National Information Services (FNIS) and President of its mortgage and information services division. His responsibilities included management of the Company’s data offerings, including public records information, credit reporting information, flood hazard compliance data, real estate tax information and collateral valuation services. He left FNIS in November of 2006 to become Chief Executive Officer of Maximum Value Group, a consulting firm focused on providing advice to private equity and other market participants in the area of banking and mortgages.

ENTER THE X-FILES

MERS has evolved into a totally different purpose today.

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of MERSCORP Inc., located at 1595 Spring Hill Rd Ste 310 Vienna, VA 22182.

MERS was founded by the mortgage industry. MERS tracks “changes” in the ownership of the beneficial and servicing interests of mortgage loans as they are bought and sold among MERS members or others. Simultaneously, MERS acts as the “mortgagee” of record in a “nominee” capacity (a form of agency) for the beneficial owners of these loans.

To ensure widespread acceptance within the industry, MERS sought to have security instruments modified to contain MERS as the original mortgagee (MOM) language. MERS began to change decades of business practices after the two biggest mortgage funders in the U.S. the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and the Ferderal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) modified their Uniform Security Instruments to include MOM language. Their approval opened the doors to incorporate MERS into loans at origination.

Soon after, U.S. government agencies like the Veterans Administration, Federal Housing administration and Government National Mortgage Association (Ginne Mae), and several state housing agencies followed both Fannie/Freddie to approve MERS.

More than 60 percent of all newly-originated mortgages are registered in MERS. Its mission is to register every mortgage loan in the United States on the MERS System. Since 1997, more than 65 million home mortgages have been assigned a Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) and have been registered on the MERS System.

The mortgage-backed security (MBS) sector tested the viability of MERS because a substantial number of mortgages are securitized in the secondary market. In February 1999, Lehman Brothers was the first company to include MERS registered loans in a MBS.

Moody’s Investor Service issued an independent Structured Finance special report  on MERS and it’s impact of MBS transactions and found that where the securitzer used MERS, new assignments of mortgages to the trustee of MBS transactions were not necessary.

Since MERS is a privately owned data system and not public, all mortgages and assignments must be recorded in order to perfect a lien. Since they failed to record assignments when these loans often traded ownership several times before any assignment was created, the legal issue is apparent. MERS may have destroyed the public land records by breaking the chain of title to millions of homes.

IN MERS CEO’S OWN WORDS

In or around the summer of 1997, MERSCORP President and CEO R.K. Arnold wrote, “Yes, There is life on MERS” Mr. Arnold stated, “Some county recorders have expressed concerns that MERS will eliminate their offices nationwide or destroy the public land records by breaking the chain of title. As implemented, MERS will not create a break in the chain of title, and, because MERS is premised on an assignment recorded in the public land records, MERS cannot work without county recorders.”

In this same article Mr. Arnold also states “The sheer volume of transfers between servicing companies and the resulting need to record assignments caused a heavy drag on the secondary market. Loan servicing can trade several times before even the first assignment in a chain is recorded, leaving the public land records clogged with unnecessary assignments. Sometimes these assignments are recorded in the wrong sequence, clouding title to the property”. Mr. Arnold never mentions the fact that the mortgage notes have been securitized, thereby becoming “negotiable securities” under the Uniform Commercial Code.

In an interview for The New York Times, Mr. Arnold said, “that his company had benefited not only banks, but also millions of borrowers who could not have obtained loans without the money-saving efficiencies MERS brought to the mortgage trade.”

Mr. Arnold went on to say that, ” far from posing a hurdle for homeowners, MERS had helped reduce mortgage fraud and imposed order on a sprawling industry where, in the past, lenders might have gone out of business and left no contact information for borrowers seeking assistance.”

“We’re not this big bad animal,” Mr. Arnold said. “This crisis that we’ve had in the mortgage business would have been a lot worse without MERS.”

Unfortunately, even a simple search in the Florida Land Records proves the opposite to be the case. Researchers have  easily found affidavits of lost assignments actually stating, “the said mortgage was assigned to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., from “XXXXXXX”, the original of the said assignment to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., was lost, misplaced or destroyed before same could be placed of record with the Florida Land Records County Clerk’s office; That, “XXXXXXX”, it’s successors and/or assignee is no longer in business/or do not respond to our request for a duplicate assignment, and therefore, a duplicate original of said assignment cannot be obtained.”

According to affidavits such as these, not only have the borrowers lost contact with the lenders, but the same is true that MERS did as well.

On September 25, 2009, Mr. R.K. Arnold was deposed in Alabama. Mr. Arnold admitted MERS does not have a beneficial interest in any loan, does not loan money and does not suffer a default if monies are not paid. On November 11, 2009, William C. Hultman was deposed in Alabama and made the same admissions.

Yet again, researchers have easily located affidavits recorded in the Florida Land Records stating “That said Deed of Trust has not been assigned to any other party and that MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, Inc. is the current holder and owner of the Note and Deed of Trust in question.”

NO. THERE’S NO LIFE AT MERS

Aside from not recording assignments, Mr. Arnold failed to mention that the certifying officers given authority to execute sensitive loan documents would not be paid employees of MERS. This raises the critical legal question as to how one can act as a certified officer and execute any equitable interest on behalf of any security instruments without being an employee of MERS.

On April 7, 2010, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, MERS Treasurer and Secretary William C. Hultman gave an oral sworn video/telephone deposition in the case of Bank Of New York v. Ukpe.:

Q Do the assistant secretaries — first off, are
you a salaried employee of MERS?
A No.

Q Are you a salaried employee of MERS Corp,
Inc.?
A Yes.

Q Are any of the employees of MERS, Inc.
salaried employees?
A I don’t understand your question.

Q Does anyone get a paycheck, if they are an
employee of MERS, Inc., do they get a paycheck from
Mercer, Inc.?
A There is no MERS, Inc.

Q I thought, sir, there’s a company that was
formed January 1, 1999, Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems, Inc. Does it have paid employees?
A No, it does not.

Q Does it have employees?
A No.

Q Does MERS have any employees?
A Did they ever have any? I couldn’t hear you.

Q Does MERS have any employees currently?
A No.

Q In the last five years has MERS had any
employees?
A No.

<SNIP>

Q How many assistant secretaries have you
appointed pursuant to the April 9, 1998 resolution; how
many assistant secretaries of MERS have you appointed?
A I don’t know that number.

Q Approximately?
A I wouldn’t even begin to be able to tell you
right now.

Q Is it in the thousands?
A Yes.

Q Have you been doing this all around the
country in every state in the country?
A Yes.

Q And all these officers I understand are unpaid
officers of MERS?
A Yes.

Q And there’s no live person who is an employee
of MERS that they report to, is that correct, who is an employee?
A There are no employees of MERS.

If so, how does anyone have any authority to sign security instruments encumbered by any loan documents, if these certifying officers are not paid employees and never attend corporate meetings in the capacity as Vice President, Assistant Secretary, etc. with Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc..

COURTS FIND ISSUES WITH MERS

Federal and state judges across America are realizing that the mortgage industry’s nominee is backfiring.

In Mr. Arnold’s own words, “For these servicing companies to perform their duties satisfactorily, the note and mortgage were bifurcated. The investor or its designee held the note and named the servicing company as mortgagee, a structure that became standard.” What has become a satisfactory standard structure for the mortgage industry has not been found by many courts to be legally sufficient to foreclose upon the property.

Again, MERS only acts as nominee for the mortgagee of record for any mortgage loan registered on the computer system MERS maintains, called the MERS System. MERS cannot negotiate a security instrument. Therefore, MERS certifying officers cannot have legal standing to assign what MERS does not own or hold.

The Supreme Court of New York Nassau County:
Bank of New York Mellon V. Juan Mojica Index No: 26203/09

Justice Thomas A. Adams stated, “Not only has plaintiff failed to establish MERS’ right as a nominee for purposes of recording to assign the mortgage, more importantly, no effort has been made to establish the authority of MERS, a non-party to the note, to transfer its ownership.”

The Supreme Court of Maine:
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Saunders, No. 09-640, 2010 WL 3168374,
(Me. August 12, 2010) The Court explains that the only rights conveyed to MERS in either the Saunders’ mortgage or the corresponding promissory note are bare legal title to the property for the sole purpose of recording the mortgage and the corresponding right to record the mortgage with the Registry of Deeds. This comports with the limited role of a nominee. A nominee is a “person designated to act in place of another, usu[ally] in a very limited way,” or a “party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others or who receives and distributes funds for the benefit of others.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1149 (9th ed. 2009).

In Hawkins, No. BK-S-07-13593-LBR, 2009 WL 901766
The Court found that the deed of trust “attempts to name MERS as both beneficiary and a nominee” but held that MERS was not the beneficiary, as it had “no rights whatsoever to any payments, to any servicing rights, or to any of the properties secured by the loans.”

In Re: Walker, Case No. 10-21656-E-11 Eastern District of CA Bankruptcy court rules MERS has NO actionable interest in title. “Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law.” “MERS could not, as a matter of law, have transferred the note to Citibank from the original lender, Bayrock Mortgage Corp.” The Court’s ruled that MERS and Citibank are not the real parties in interest.

In re Vargas, 396 B.R. at 517-19. Judge Bufford found that the witness called to testify as to debt and default was incompetent. All the witness could testify was that he had looked at the MERS computerized records. The witness was unable to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence, particularly Rule 803, as applied to computerized records in the Ninth Circuit. See id. at 517-20. “The low level employee could really only testify that the MERS screen shot he reviewed reflected a default. That really is not much in the way of evidence, and not nearly enough to get around the hearsay rule.”

FRAUD ON THE COURT

In US Bank v. Harpster the Law Offices Of David J. Stern committed fraud on the court by the evidence based on the Assignment of Mortgage that was created and notarized on December 5, 2007. However, that purported creation/notarization date was facially impossible: the stamp on the notary was dated May 19, 2012. Since Notary commissions only last four years in Florida (see F .S. Section 117.01 (l)), the notary stamp used on this instrument did not even exist until approximately five months after the purported date on the Assignment.

The Court specifically finds that the purported Assignment did not exist at the time of filing of this action; that the purported Assignment was subsequently created and the execution date and notarial date were fraudulently backdated, in a purposeful, intentional effort to mislead the Defendant and this Court. The Court rejects the Assignment and finds that is not entitled to introduction in evidence for any purpose. The Court finds that the Plaintiff does not have standing to bring its action.

The Court dismissed this case with prejudice.

In Duval County, Florida another foreclosure case was dismissed with prejudice for fraud on the court. In JPMorgan V. Pocopanni, the Court found that Fishman & Shapiro representing JPMorgan had actual knowledge at all times that the Complaint, the Assignment, and the Motion for Substitution were all false. The Court found that by clear and convincing evidence WAMU, Chase and Shapiro & Fishman committed fraud on this court.

Both these cases involved Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. assignments.

FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS

Two RICO Class Action lawsuits have commenced against Foreclosure Law Firms and MERSCORP for fabricating and forging documents that are entered into courts as evidence in order to have standing to foreclose. Unknown to judges and the borrowers, they accept these documents because they are executed under perjury of the law. These “tromp l’oeil” actions have finally surfaced and the courts has taking notice.

The lack of supervision and managing of MERS “Robo-Signers” has led to a national frenzy of fabrication, forgery and certifying officers wearing multiple corporate hats. Anyone who compares signatures of these certifying officers will see a major problem with forgery in hundreds of thousands affidavits and assignments which creates an enormous dark cloud of title defects to millions of homes across the US.

On August 10, 2010 Florida attorney general Bill McCollum announced that he is investigating three foreclosure law firms for allegedly providing fraudulent assignments and affidavits relating in foreclosure cases.

In a deposition taken in December 2009, GMAC employee Jeffrey Stephan said he signed 10,000 affidavits or similar documents a month without personally verifying who the mortgage holder was. That means many foreclosures could have taken place based on false documentation and many homes may have been unlawfully foreclosed on.

On September 20, 2010, GMAC halted foreclosures in 23 different states. Two of the three firms being investigated by the Florida attorney general, the Law Office of Marshall C. Watson and the Law Offices of David J. Stern PA, have represented GMAC in foreclosure proceedings.

This is not limited to only GMAC Mortgage. There are many hundreds of thousands of these same documents that are being created by many foreclosure law firms across the nation.

University of Utah law professor Christopher L. Peterson has raised the issue that MERS should be regarded as a debt collector. He argues that some of MERS’ methods are just the sort of deceptive practices that ought to be regulated under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U. S. C. §1692(a),(j).

CONCLUSION

Finally in May, 2009, Mr. Arnold said in Mortgage Technology Magazine, “Every system in the mortgage industry can switch MERS registry on or off at will,” referencing that both the Obama administration and Congressional leaders are aware of this.

President Obama and Congressional leaders it is time to permanently switch MERS lifeless device off!

Not until MERS became the primary focus for challenges to legal standing in foreclosure courts as reported by the alternative media, have the main stream media and the mortgage industry have begun to realize that property records cross the United States have become totally unreliable.

It has taken more than a decade for the courts to recognize that MERS has become a mortgage backfire system leaving clouded titles in over 65 million loans since 1997.

Courts across the nation must comply with the law.  Any documents submitted to the courts regarding property ownership should be assumed to be nothing but smoke in a mirror.

No, Mr. Arnold, there’s no life at MERS.


DinSFLA, “nominee” of stopforeclosurefraud.com, a blog on Foreclosure Fraud.

© 2010 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved. www.StopForeclosureFraud.com

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in featured, STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUDComments (33)

EXCLUSIVE | ‘MERS’ DEPOSITION of SECRETARY and TREASURER of MERSCORP 4/2010

EXCLUSIVE | ‘MERS’ DEPOSITION of SECRETARY and TREASURER of MERSCORP 4/2010


Could this deposition hold the key to take all of MERS V3 &  MERSCORP down!

There is not 1, 2 but 3 MERS, Inc. in the past.

Just like MERS et al signing documents dated years later from existence the Corporate employees do the same to their own corporate resolutions! Exists in 1998 and certifies it in 2002.

If this is not proof of a Ponzi Scheme then I don’t know what is… They hide the truth in many layers but as we keep pulling and peeling each layer back eventually we will come to the truth!

“A Subtle Stranger” Orchestrates a Paradigm Shift

MERS et al has absolutely no supervision of what is being done by it’s non-members certifying authority PERIOD!

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
CHANCERY DIVISION – ATLANTIC COUNTY
DOCKET NO. F-10209-08
BANK OF NEW YORK AS TRUSTEE FOR
THE CERTIFICATE HOLDERS CWABS,
INC. ASSET-BACKED CERTIFICATES,
SERIES 2005-AB3
Plaintiff(s),
vs.
VICTOR and ENOABASI UKPE
Defendant(s).

___________________________________________
VICTOR and ENOABASI UKPE
Counter claimants and
Third Party Plaintiffs,
vs.
BANK OF NEW YORK AS TRUSTEE FOR
THE CERTIFICATE HOLDERS CWABS,
INC. ASSET-BACKED CERTIFICATES,
SERIES 2005-AB3
Defendants on the Counterclaim,
and
AMERICA’S WHOLESALE LENDER;
COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC.;
MORGAN FUNDING CORPORATION,
ROBERT CHILDERS; COUNTRYWIDE
HOME LOANS SERVICING LP,
PHELAN, HALLINAN & SCHMIEG,
P.C.,
Third Party Defendants
——————–

Deposition of William C. Hultman, Secretary and Treasurer of MERSCORP

[ipaper docId=36513502 access_key=key-1ltln0ondmrqe0v9156u height=600 width=600 /]

Does MERS have any salaried employees?
A No.
Q Does MERS have any employees?
A Did they ever have any? I couldn’t hear you.
Q Does MERS have any employees currently?
A No.
Q In the last five years has MERS had any
employees
?
A No.
Q To whom do the officers of MERS report?
A The Board of Directors.
Q To your knowledge has Mr. Hallinan ever
reported to the Board?
A He would have reported through me if there was
something to report.
Q So if I understand your answer, at least the
MERS officers reflected on Hultman Exhibit 4, if they
had something to report would report to you even though
you’re not an employee of MERS, is that correct?
MR. BROCHIN: Object to the form of the
question.
A That’s correct.
Q And in what capacity would they report to you?
A As a corporate officer. I’m the secretary.
Q As a corporate officer of what?
Of MERS.
Q So you are the secretary of MERS, but are not
an employee of MERS?
A That’s correct.

etc…
How many assistant secretaries have you
appointed pursuant to the April 9, 1998 resolution; how
many assistant secretaries of MERS have you appointed?
A I don’t know that number.
Q Approximately?
A I wouldn’t even begin to be able to tell you
right now.
Q Is it in the thousands?
A Yes.
Q Have you been doing this all around the
country in every state in the country?
A Yes.
Q And all these officers I understand are unpaid
officers of MERS
?
A Yes.
Q And there’s no live person who is an employee
of MERS that they report to, is that correct, who is an
employee?
MR. BROCHIN: Object to the form of the
question.
A There are no employees of MERS.

RELATED ARTICLE:

_____________________________

MERS 101

_____________________________

FULL DEPOSITION of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) PRESIDENT & CEO R.K. ARNOLD “MERSCORP”

_____________________________

DEPOSITION of A “REAL” VICE PRESIDENT of MERS WILLIAM “BILL” HULTMAN

_____________________________

HOMEOWNERS’ REBELLION: COULD 62 MILLION HOMES BE FORECLOSURE-PROOF?

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in bac home loans, bank of america, bank of new york, chain in title, concealment, conflict of interest, conspiracy, CONTROL FRAUD, corruption, countrywide, foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, foreclosure mills, foreclosures, insider, investigation, lawsuit, MERS, MERSCORP, mortgage, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., note, originator, R.K. Arnold, racketeering, Real Estate, sanctioned, scam, securitization, servicers, stopforeclosurefraud.com, sub-prime, TAXES, trustee, trustee sale, Trusts, truth in lending act, unemployed, Violations, Wall StreetComments (4)

MERS Affidavit of VP, Treasurer WILLIAM C. HULTMAN

MERS Affidavit of VP, Treasurer WILLIAM C. HULTMAN


From: b.daviesmd6605

[ipaper docId=28824808 access_key=key-skzhak6t9ph45jt75jx height=600 width=600 /]

© 2010-17 FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA. All rights reserved.



Posted in MERS, MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS INC., William C. HultmanComments (0)


GARY DUBIN LAW OFFICES FORECLOSURE DEFENSE HAWAII and CALIFORNIA
Kenneth Eric Trent, www.ForeclosureDestroyer.com

Archives

Please Support Me!

All Of These Are Troll Comments