A ‘Little Judge’ Who Rejects Foreclosures, Brooklyn Style: Judge Arthur Schack

If other judges knew more of what really is than whats not perhaps they would also know the fraud that is being played in their court rooms.

By MICHAEL POWELL Published: August 30, 2009

The judge waves you into his chambers in the State Supreme Court building in Brooklyn, past the caveat taped to his wall — “Be sure brain in gear before engaging mouth” — and into his inner office, where foreclosure motions are piled high enough to form a minor Alpine chain.

 Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

“I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate,” Justice Arthur M. Schack said.

Every week, the nation’s mightiest banks come to his court seeking to take the homes of New Yorkers who cannot pay their mortgages. And nearly as often, the judge says, they file foreclosure papers speckled with errors.

He plucks out one motion and leafs through: a Deutsche Bank representative signed an affidavit claiming to be the vice president of two different banks. His office was in Kansas City, Mo., but the signature was notarized in Texas. And the bank did not even own the mortgage when it began to foreclose on the homeowner.

The judge’s lips pucker as if he had inhaled a pickle; he rejected this one.

“I’m a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn’t belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?” he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. “I won’t accept their comedy of errors.”

The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale. While national debate focuses on bank bailouts and federal aid for homeowners that has been slow in coming, the hard reckonings of the foreclosure crisis are being made in courts like his, and Justice Schack’s sympathies are clear.

He has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years. And his often scathing decisions, peppered with allusions to the Croesus-like wealth of bank presidents, have attracted the respectful attention of judges and lawyers from Florida to Ohio to California. At recent judicial conferences in Chicago and Arizona, several panelists praised his rulings as a possible national model.

His opinions, too, have been greeted by a cry of affront from a bank official or two, who say this judge stands in the way of what is rightfully theirs. HSBC bank appealed a recent ruling, saying he had set a “dangerous precedent” by acting as “both judge and jury,” throwing out cases even when homeowners had not responded to foreclosure motions.

Justice Schack, like a handful of state and federal judges, has taken a magnifying glass to the mortgage industry. In the gilded haste of the past decade, bankers handed out millions of mortgages — with terms good, bad and exotically ugly — then repackaged those loans for sale to investors from Connecticut to Singapore. Sloppiness reigned. So many papers have been lost, signatures misplaced and documents dated inaccurately that it is often not clear which bank owns the mortgage.

Justice Schack’s take is straightforward, and sends a tremor through some bank suites: If a bank cannot prove ownership, it cannot foreclose.

“If you are going to take away someone’s house, everything should be legal and correct,” he said. “I’m a strange guy — I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate.”

Justice Schack has small jowls and big black glasses, a thin mustache and not so many hairs combed across his scalp. He has the impish eyes of the high school social studies teacher he once was, aware that something untoward is probably going on at the back of his classroom.

He is Brooklyn born and bred, with a master’s degree in history and an office loaded with autographed baseballs and photographs of the Brooklyn Dodgers. His written decisions are a free-associative trip through popular, legal and literary culture, with a sideways glance at the business pages.

Confronted with a case in which Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs passed a defaulted mortgage back and forth and lost track of the documents, the judge made reference to the film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the evil banker played by Lionel Barrymore.

“Lenders should not lose sight,” Justice Schack wrote in that 2007 case, “that they are dealing with humanity, not with Mr. Potter’s ‘rabble’ and ‘cattle.’ Multibillion-dollar corporations must follow the same rules in the foreclosure actions as the local banks,savings and loan associations or credit unions, or else they have become the Mr. Potters of the 21st century.”

Last year, he chastised Wells Fargo for filing error-filled papers. “The court,” the judge wrote, “reminds Wells Fargo of Cassius’s advice to Brutus in Act 1, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ ”

Then there is a Deutsche Bank case from 2008, the juicy part of which he reads aloud:

“The court wonders if the instant foreclosure action is a corporate ‘Kansas City Shuffle,’ a complex confidence game,” he reads. “In the 2006 film ‘Lucky Number Slevin,’ Mr. Goodkat, a hit man played by Bruce Willis, explains: ‘A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left.’ ”

The banks’ reaction? Justice Schack shrugs. “They probably curse at me,” he says, “but no one is interested in some little judge.”

Little drama attends the release of his decisions. Beaten-down homeowners rarely show up to contest foreclosure actions, and the judge scrutinizes the banks’ papers in his chambers. But at legal conferences, judges and lawyers have wondered aloud why more judges do not hold banks to tougher standards.

“To the extent that judges examine these papers, they find exactly the same errors that Judge Schack does,” said Katherine M. Porter, a visiting professor at the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a national expert in consumer credit law. “His rulings are hardly revolutionary; it’s unusual only because we so rarely hold large corporations to the rules.”

Banks and the cottage industry of mortgage service companies and foreclosure lawyers also pay rather close attention.

A spokeswoman for OneWest Bank acknowledged that an official, confronted with a ream of foreclosure papers, had mistakenly signed for two different banks — just as the Deutsche Bank official did. Deutsche Bank, which declined to let an attorney speak on the record about any of its cases before Justice Schack, e-mailed a PDF of a three-page pamphlet in which it claimed little responsibility for foreclosures, even though the bank’s name is affixed to tens of thousands of such motions. The bank described itself as simply a trustee for investors.

Justice Schack came to his recent prominence by a circuitous path, having worked for 14 years as public school teacher in Brooklyn. He was a union representative and once walked a picket line with his wife, Dilia, who was a teacher, too. All was well until the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

“Why’d I go to law school?” he said. “Thank Mayor Abe Beame, who froze teacher salaries.”

He was counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association in the 1980s and ’90s, when it was on a long winning streak against team owners. “It was the millionaires versus the billionaires,” he says. “After a while, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘He’s making $4 million, he’s making $5 million, and I’m worth about $1.98.’ ”

So he dived into a judicial race. He was elected to the Civil Court in 1998 and to the Supreme Court for Brooklyn and Staten Island in 2003. His wife is a Democratic district leader; their daughter, Elaine, is a lawyer and their son, Douglas, a police officer.

Justice Schack’s duels with the banks started in 2007 as foreclosures spiked sharply. He saw a plague falling on Brooklyn, particularly its working-class black precincts. “Banks had given out loans structured to fail,” he said.

The judge burrowed into property record databases. He found banks without clear title, and a giant foreclosure law firm, Steven J. Baum, representing two sides in a dispute. He noted that Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John G. Stumpf, made more than $11 million in 2007 while the company’s total returns fell 12 percent.

“Maybe,” he advised the bank, “counsel should wonder, like the court, if Mr. Stumpf was unjustly enriched at the expense of W.F.’s stockholders.”

He was, how to say it, mildly appalled.

“I’m a guy from the streets of Brooklyn who happens to become a judge,” he said. “I see a bank giving a $500,000 mortgage on a building worth $300,000 and the interest rate is 20 percent and I ask questions, what can I tell you?”

MORTGAGE SERVICING COMPANIES PREPARING “REPLACEMENT” MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS: By Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Ed.

MORTGAGE SERVICING COMPANIES

PREPARING “ REPLACEMENT” MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS

By Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Ed. Fraud Digest, May 6, 2010

CALIFORNIA – ORANGE COUNTY

Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC

Tom Croft and others

CALIFORNIA – SAN DIEGO COUNTY

Chase Home Finance

FLORIDA – BROWARD COUNTY

Patricia Arango, Caryn Graham and others

Law Offices of Marshal Watson

FLORIDA – BROWARD COUNTY

Cheryl Samons, Beth Cerni and others

Law Offices of David Stern

FLORIDA – DUVAL COUNTY

Lender Processing Services

Valerie Broom, Margaret Dalton, Michele Halyard, Michael Hunt, Joseph

Kaminsky, Kathy Smith, Coleman Stokes and others

FLORIDA- HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

Florida Default Law Group or Law Offices of Daniel Consuegra

FLORIDA – PALM BEACH COUNTY

Ocwen Loan Servicing

Scott Anderson, Oscar Taveras, Doris Chapman, Jonathan Burgess, Laura

Buxton and others

FLORIDA – PINELLAS COUNTY

Nationwide Title Clearing

Bryan Bly, Vilma Castro, Dhurato Doko, Jessica Fretwell and others

GEORGIA – FULTON COUNTY

Lender Processing Services

Linda Green, Korell Harp, Jessice Ohde, Linda Thoresen, Tywanna Thomas,

Cheryl Thomas, Christie Baldwin and others

MINNESOTA -DAKOTA COUNTY

Lender Processing Services

Liquenda Allotey, Topeka Love, Christine Anderson, Christine Allen, Eric Tate

OHIO – FRANKLIN COUNTY

Chase Home Finance

Christina Trowbridge, Whitney Cook and others

PENNSYLVANIA – ALLEGHANY COUNTY

Home Loan Services, Inc.

PENNSYLVANIA – MONTGOMERY COUNTY

GMAC (and Homecomings Financial)

Jeffrey Stephan, John Kerr and others

SOUTH CAROLINA – YORK COUNTY

America’s Servicing Company

John Kennerty, China Brown and others

TEXAS – COLLIN COUNTY

BAC Home Loan Servicing, f/k/a Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP

TEXAS – DALLAS COUNTY (COPPELL, TX)

American Home Mortgage Servicing

TEXAS – HARRIS COUNTY

Litton Loan Servicing, LP

Marti Noriega, Denise Bailey, Diane Dixon and others

TEXAS – TARRANT COUNTY

Saxon Mortgage Services

TEXAS – TRAVIS COUNTY

IndyMac Bank Home Loan Servicing

Brian Burnett, Kristen Kemp, Suchan Murray, Chamagne Williams and others

TEXAS – WILLIAMSON COUNTY

IndyMac Bank (years after IndyMac Bank, F.S.B. ceased to exist, many of the signers will sign as officers of IndyMac Bank, F.S.B. (the entity that should have made the assignment to the trust years ealier)

Erica A. Johnson-Seck, Dennis Kirkpatick, Eric Friedman and others

UTAH

SALT LAKE COUNTY

Select Portfolio Servicing

Luisa Alfonso, Bill Koch and others

Many mortgage-backed securitized trusts are missing critical documents needed to foreclose – i.e., the mortgage assignment. An excellent discussion of this is found in the decision of Massachusetts Land Court Judge Keith Long reaffirming a 2009 ruling (Ibanez) that invalidated foreclosures on two properties because the lenders did not hold clear title to the properties at the time of the foreclosure sale. Mortgage assignments were a key issue in Ibanez, a case that involved ineffective assignments to the Trust. Judge Long noted:

…the plaintiffs’ own securitization documents required mortgage assignments to be made to the plaintiffs in recordable form for each and every loan at the time the plaintiffs acquired them. Surely, compliance with this requirement would (and certainly should) have been a priority for an entity issuing securities dependent on recoveries from loans, such as these, known from the start to have a higher than normal risk of delinquency and default. U.S. BANK, N.A. v. Antonio Ibanez, et al., Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Land Court Dept., 08 MISC 384283 (KCL).

This Ibanez decision and many others deal with the issue of mortgage assignments prepared years after the closing date of the trust, usually when the Trustee or mortgage servicer has realized that the Trust does not have the assignment needed to foreclose or has a defective assignment – such as one issued in blank, unsigned and undated.

Many trusts and servicers try to replace the missing assignments, often with assignments executed within a few months of the foreclosure – and in many cases even after the foreclosure is filed or the home is sold (in non-judicial foreclosure states). The date and place of the Assignment often reveals whether the Assignment is actually a “replacement” – issued years after the Trust closed, and even years after the original lender supposedly making the Assignment disappeared into bankruptcy.

The servicer rarely identifies itself and discloses that this is an attempt to replace a missing assignment. It is, therefore, very useful to know that Mortgage Assignments notarized in the counties above are more often than not replacement Assignments prepared by or on behalf of the Trusts – by the servicers for the Trust or document preparation companies working for the servicers, or even law firm employees working for the Trust.

Please send corrections/additions to szymoniak@mac.com.

Mortgage series part 8—they are trying to steal your house after they already stole your money

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Mortgage series part 8—they are trying to steal your house after they already stole your money

By: Cynthia Kouril Tuesday April 6, 2010 4:19 am

Imagine, if you will, a bank sets up a mortgage backed security.  The security is backed by a trust that holds all the mortgages and notes. The trust document says that all of the mortgages that would be included in that particular security had to be transferred into the trust by a particular date. That date is long since passed.

You are now in foreclosure, and attached to the summons and complaint is a copy of an assignment of your mortgage, within the last few days before the date of the summons and complaint, transferring your mortgage into the trust. What does that all mean?

It could  mean that the trustee did not actually own your mortgage and that all the money that you have paid on that mortgage that went to pay the holders of the security associated with that trust was paid to the wrong party.

Why? Because the mortgage was not transferred into the trust before your payments were directed to it. And the after the fact assignment doesn’t remedy it, because the trust was required to close the book on adding new mortgages into the trust, on a date long since passed. So, the trustee accepted payments from you even though your mortgage was not a part of that trust. You were paying the wrong party.

Then to add insult to injury, the trustee is trying to take your home away.

Oh, and the last minute assignment –may be a forgery.  Ain’t that just the icing on the cake?

These are the cranium exploding allegations being made by white collar fraud expert Lynn Szymoniak, Esq.

In a letter to an Assistant United States Attorney, Ms. Szymoniak alleges

This letter concerns possible fabricated and forged mortgage-related documents that are being filed by banks in foreclosure actions in Massachusetts, Florida and throughout the country.

These documents were prepared by a company known as DOCX, LLC, a company that claims to “expedite” the mortgage foreclosure process for banks and mortgage lenders. DOCX is located in Alpharetta, Georgia, and is owned by a Jacksonville, Florida company, Fidelity National Financial, Inc.

In many cases, DOCX has provided Assignments so that banks that have purchased mortgages from the original lender may pursue foreclosure even when the proper documents have not been prepared, executed and filed. These documents very often appear in cases where the mortgage has been purchased, and combined with others to create to an asset-back security. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company is one of the banks that have frequently used mortgage-related documents prepared by DOCX.

 

Similar letters have been sent to Phil Angelides, Sheila Bair, Barnie Frank, a Clerk of the Court in Florida, and a Florida State’s Attorney.

Ms. Szymoniak goes on to reveal that clerks at DOCX are signing these documents pretending to be employees of varies banks and other financial institutions. For example:

… on mortgage documents prepared by DOCX, since January 1, 2006, Linda Green has signed as a Vice President of at least eight different banks and mortgage companies, including: Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Option One Mortgage Corporation, American Home Mortgage Servicing, American Home Mortgage Acceptance, Argent Mortgage Company, LLC, Sand Canyon Corporation, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., acting solely as a nominee for HLB Mortgage.

Korell Harp’s purported signature appears on documents where he is identified as Vice President of MERS as nominee for Quick Loan Funding, Vice president and Assistant Secretary for Argent Mortgage Company, Authorized Signer for USAA Federal Savings Bank, Vice President of American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., as successor-in- interest to Option One Mortgage Corporation, Vice President of American Home Mortgage Acceptance, Inc., and Vice President of Sand Canyon Corporation.

 Tywanna Thomas’s purported signature appears on documents where she is identified as Assistant Vice President of MERS, as nominee for Quick Loan Funding, Inc.; Assistant Secretary of MERS, as nominee for American Home Mortgage Acceptance, Inc.; Assistant Vice President of Sand Canyon Corporation, formerly known as Option One Mortgage; and Vice President & Assistant Secretary of Argent Mortgage Company.

 Other names that appear on hundreds of DOCX assignments, as officers of many different banks, include Jessica Odhe, Brent Bagley, Christie Baldwin, Cheryl Thomas and Linda Thoresen. These documents have all been notarized in Fulton County, Georgia. An examination of the signatures also reveals that the signatures of the same person vary significantly.

Via: http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/39238

ERIC FRIEDMAN It’s your turn to wear the hats…By the way thanks for the Power Of Attorney to Stern!

Ok folks…here we have Eric & Erica.

 We all know some of the many hats Erica Johnson-Seck wears…so whats a few more. Just like her,  Eric Friedman joins her with some signings and also gives Law Offices of David J. Stern Power Of Attorney via IndyMac.

N0tice how it may be the same person signing for all on the POA? Eric also signs documents for Florida Default Group now would this be a conflict? What makes of this POA since Eric’s signatures aren’t consistent and is an officer of other banks too?

Oh and they didn’t want notary Mai Thao to feel left out so they let “Mai”  in on it too.

  • Notice original banks ceased operations before these were assigned.
  • They “fabricated” these assignments to back date and record months after.
  • Notice no addresses because their is none.
  • IndyMac itself was ceased by the FDIC in 7/11/2008 and sold to OneWest 3/19/2009.

******BREAKING NEWS******Scandalous – Substantiated Allegations of Foreclosure Fraud That Implicates the Florida Attorney General’s Office (Erin Cullaro) and The Florida Default Law Group (FDLG)

SPREAD THIS LIKE WILDFIRE! This cannot continue!

Via 4ClosureFraud…

Pay attention all!

We have been sitting on this information for some time now due to ongoing investigations but since the cat is out of the bag here we go…

Over at  Matt Weidner’s Blog

He reports on the transcript and motion from a hearing held in a Volusia County Courtroom from Ice Legal.

Bombshell- Substantiated Allegations of Foreclosure/Affidavit Fraud That Implicates the Florida Attorney General’s Office

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the attorneys at Ice Legal may be the most aggressive and hard charging Foreclosure Fraud Fighters in Florida.  When this whole system comes crashing down and when judges and the Florida Supreme Court put an end to the systemic abuses of the court process being perpetrated by the foreclosure mills, the attorneys at Ice Legal will rightly take their fair share of the credit.

Attached here is a must read Motion along with a copy of a transcript from a hearing held in a Volusia County Courtroom.  The Motion lays out a very disturbing set of allegations…

This is a foreclosure action filed by WELLS FARGO BANK, NA (the “BANK”). The BANK is represented by Florida Default Law Group, P.L. (“FDLG”). On behalf of the BANK in this case, and on behalf of other clients in other cases, FDLG filed affidavits to establish that the attorneys’ fees it was allegedly paid were reasonable. The affidavits purport to have been executed by Lisa Cullaro, the appointed expert on attorneys’ fees. The notary who allegedly administered the expert’s oath and vouched for her signature was Erin Cullaro, a former employee of FDLG and now an Assistant Attorney General in the Economic Crimes Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

Not only was Erin just a former employee, she was one of the lead counsel for Michael Echeverria, the owner of FDLG (Florida Default Law Group)

Just recently their website http://www.echevarria.com/AttorneyProfiles.htm went “offline” but Google cashed version is here…

I also archived it here…4CLOSUREFraud for the PROOF!

 

Compare the signatures:

Continue to 4closurefraud for the rest …

Below is a FDLG letterhead from 2003 with Erin Cullaro listed.

Mers Discovery Responses TO REQUEST FOR Production of Documents 3-15-2010, ERICA JOHNSON-SECK, DAVIE

via b.daviesmd6605

SAME RESPONSES OBJECTIONS AND NO DOCUMENTS. IT IS THE GAME. HOPEFULLY WE CAN BREAK THIS GAME. WE ALL HAVE ERICA JOHNSON-SECKS DEPOSITION. JUST FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD.

LPS Asset Management Launches Short-Sale Service: “CAVEAT EMPTOR”

CAVEAT EMPTOR

March 22, 2010 – Lender Processing Services

 
LPS Asset Management Launches Short-Sale Service

Service helps lenders respond to short-sale offers more efficiently

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (NYSE:LPS) , a leading provider of integrated technology and services to the mortgage and real estate industries, is pleased to announce the launch of its professional short-sale service. Offered through LPS Asset Management Solutions, LPS’ short-sale solution helps servicers respond more quickly to short-sale offers and close more transactions.

In the current environment, servicers must be prepared to efficiently leverage alternatives like short sales. They must also be able to manage an increase in short-sale requests from borrowers and process the increased volume, while minimizing risk exposure and keeping operating complexity to a minimum.

‘As the need for short-sale management continues to increase, servicers must have an exceptionally efficient process in place for accuracy, timeliness and high-performance results,’ said Chad Neel, president of LPS Asset Management Solutions, LPS Field Services and LPS Auction Solutions. ‘With our extensive industry and short-sale experience and resources, we are ideally poised to help servicers streamline the short-sale process, enabling them to keep costs down and work with defaulted homeowners more effectively.’

LPS Asset Management Solutions has an established network of seasoned asset managers who manage, market and sell distressed and bank-owned properties, so servicers don’t have to experiment with alternatives or create alliances that may not offer the same benefits. LPS Asset Management Solutions’ ability to quickly draw upon related LPS resources, including property preservation and code enforcement services, title and closing services, analytics, valuations, MLS data and market trending data, offers servicers a powerful, comprehensive solution for its short-sale needs.

With the expertise and ability to assist servicers at any stage of the short-sale process, LPS works directly with its clients to review title; assess and resolve junior liens; review property values against short-sale offers; evaluate the equity position for each transaction; perform occupancy checks; and provide property preservation services, if necessary.

Additionally, LPS can coordinate short-sale offer reviews to provide guidance on whether the offers are in line with local market values and appropriate for the servicer’s objectives. Finally, LPS can either manage the entire closing process for short-sale offers that are accepted, or support servicers with property auction and deed-in-lieu services to expand the choices available to help clients and their borrowers conclude their transactions.

For more information regarding the LPS Asset Management Solutions’ short-sale services, call (720) 566-8025.

About Lender Processing Services

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) is a leading provider of integrated technology and services to the mortgage and real estate industries. LPS offers solutions that span the mortgage continuum, including lead generation, origination, servicing, workflow automation (LPS Desktop®) portfolio retention and default, augmented by the company’s award-winning customer support and professional services. Approximately 50 percent of all U.S. mortgages by volume are serviced using LPS’ Mortgage Servicing Package (MSP). LPS also offers proprietary mortgage and real estate data and analytics for the mortgage and capital markets industries. For more information about LPS, please visit http://www.lpsvcs.com.

 

Contact: Michelle Kersch Media +1-904-854-5043 michelle.kersch@lpsvcs.com
Company: Lender Processing Services, Jacksonville-Florida
Web Link: http://www.lpsvcs.com

Source: http://www.mortgagemag.com/news/2010/0316/1000016436070.htm

or see my write ups on them HERE