The next financial tsunami unleashed by toxic mortgages

Posted on October 23, 2009. Filed under: Banking, Foreclosure Defense, Fraud, Housing, Mortgage Audit, Mortgage Fraud, Mortgage Law, Predatory Lending | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

By PAM MARTENS

The financial tsunami unleashed by Wall Street’s esurient alchemy of spinning toxic home mortgages into triple-A bonds, a process known as securitization, has set off its second round of financial tremors.

After leaving mortgage investors, bank shareholders, and pension fiduciaries awash in losses and a large chunk of Wall Street feeding at the public trough, the full threat of this vast securitization machine and its unseen masters who push the levers behind a tightly drawn curtain is playing out in courtrooms across America.

Three plain talking judges, in state courts in Massachusetts and Kansas, and a Federal Court in Ohio, have drilled down to the “straw man” aspect of securitization. The judges’ decisions have raised serious questions as to the legality of hundreds of thousands of foreclosures that have transpired as well as the legal standing of the subsequent purchasers of those homes, who are more and more frequently the Wall Street banks themselves.

Adding to the chaos, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has made rule changes that will force hundreds of billions of dollars of these securitizations back onto the Wall Street banks balance sheets, necessitating the need to raise capital just as the unseemly courtroom dramas are playing out.

The problems grew out of the steps required to structure a mortgage securitization. In order to meet the test of an arm’s length transaction, pass muster with regulators, conform to accounting rules and to qualify as an actual sale of the securities in order to be removed from the bank’s balance sheet, the mortgages get transferred a number of times before being sold to investors. Typically, the original lender (or a sponsor who has purchased the mortgages in the secondary market) will transfer the mortgages to a limited purpose entity called a depositor. The depositor will then transfer the mortgages to a trust which sells certificates to investors based on the various risk-rated tranches of the mortgage pool. (Theoretically, the lower rated tranches were to absorb the losses of defaults first with the top triple-A tiers being safe. In reality, many of the triple-A tiers have received ratings downgrades along with all the other tranches.)

Because of the expense, time and paperwork it would take to record each of the assignments of the thousands of mortgages in each securitization, Wall Street firms decided to just issue blank mortgage assignments all along the channel of transfers, skipping the actual physical recording of the mortgage at the county registry of deeds.

Astonishingly, representatives for the trusts have been foreclosing on homes across the country, evicting the families, then auctioning the homes, without a proper paper trail on the mortgage assignments or proof that they had legal standing. In some cases, the courts have allowed the representatives to foreclose and evict despite their admission that the original mortgage note is lost. (This raises the question as to whether these mortgage notes are really lost or might have been fraudulently used in multiple securitizations, a concern raised by some Wall Street veterans.)

But, at last, some astute judges have done more than take a cursory look and render a shrug. In a decision handed down on October 14, 2009, Judge Keith Long of the Massachusetts Land Court wrote:

“The blank mortgage assignments they possessed transferred nothing…in Massachusetts, a mortgage is a conveyance of land. Nothing is conveyed unless and until it is validly conveyed. The various agreements between the securitization entities stating that each had a right to an assignment of the mortgage are not themselves an assignment and they are certainly not in recordable form…The issues in this case are not merely problems with paperwork or a matter of dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Instead, they lie at the heart of the protections given to homeowners and borrowers by the Massachusetts legislature. To accept the plaintiffs’ arguments is to allow them to take someone’s home without any demonstrable right to do so, based upon the assumption that they ultimately will be able to show that they have that right and the further assumption that potential bidders will be undeterred by the lack of a demonstrable legal foundation for the sale and will nonetheless bid full value in the expectation that that foundation will ultimately be produced, even if it takes a year or more. The law recognizes the troubling nature of these assumptions, the harm caused if those assumptions prove erroneous, and commands otherwise.” [Italic emphasis in original.] (U.S. Bank National Association v. Ibanez/Wells Fargo v. Larace)

A month and a half before, on August 28, 2009, Judge Eric S. Rosen of the Kansas Supreme Court took an intensive look at a “straw man” some Wall Street firms had set up to handle the dirty work of foreclosure and serve as the “nominee” as the mortgages flipped between the various entities. Called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.) it’s a bankruptcy-remote subsidiary of MERSCORP, which in turn is owned by units of Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, the Mortgage Bankers Association and assorted mortgage and title companies. According to the MERSCORP web site, these “shareholders played a critical role in the development of MERS. Through their capital support, MERS was able to fund expenses related to development and initial start-up.”

In recent years, MERS has become less of an electronic registration system and more of a serial defendant in courts across the land. In a May 2009 document titled “The Building Blocks of MERS,” the company concedes that “Recently there has been a wave of lawsuits filed by homeowners facing foreclosure which challenge MERS standing…” and then proceeds over the next 30 pages to describe the lawsuits state by state, putting a decidedly optimistic spin on the situation.

MERS doesn’t have a big roster of employees or lawyers running around the country foreclosing and defending itself in lawsuits. It simply deputizes employees of the banks and mortgage companies that use it as a nominee. It calls these deputies a “certifying officer.” Here’s how they explain this on their web site: “A certifying officer is an officer of the Member [mortgage company or bank] who is appointed a MERS officer by the Corporate Secretary of MERS by the issuance of a MERS Corporate Resolution. The Resolution authorizes the certifying officer to execute documents as a MERS officer.”

Kansas Supreme Court Judge Rosen wasn’t buying MERS’ story. In fact, Wall Street was probably not too happy to land before Judge Rosen. In January 2002, Judge Rosen had received the Martin Luther King “Living the Dream” Humanitarian Award; he previously served as Associate General Counsel for the Kansas Securities Commissioner, and as Assistant District Attorney in Shawnee County, Kansas. Judge Rosen wrote:

“The relationship that MERS has to Sovereign [Bank] is more akin to that of a straw man than to a party possessing all the rights given a buyer… What meaning is this court to attach to MERS’s designation as nominee for Millennia [Mortgage Corp.]? The parties appear to have defined the word 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. Counsel for Sovereign stated to the trial court that MERS holds the mortgage ‘in street name, if you will, and our client the bank and other banks transfer these mortgages and rely on MERS to provide them with notice of foreclosures and what not.’ ” (Landmark National Bank v. Boyd A. Kesler)

Lawyers for homeowners see a darker agenda to MERS. Timothy McCandless, a California lawyer, wrote on his blog as follows:

“…all across the country, MERS now brings foreclosure proceedings in its own name — even though it is not the financial party in interest. This is problematic because MERS is not prepared for or equipped to provide responses to consumers’ discovery requests with respect to predatory lending claims and defenses. In effect, the securitization conduit attempts to use a faceless and seemingly innocent proxy with no knowledge of predatory origination or servicing behavior to do the dirty work of seizing the consumer’s home. While up against the wall of foreclosure, consumers that try to assert predatory lending defenses are often forced to join the party — usually an investment trust — that actually will benefit from the foreclosure. As a simple matter of logistics this can be difficult, since the investment trust is even more faceless and seemingly innocent than MERS itself. The investment trust has no customer service personnel and has probably not even retained counsel. Inquiries to the trustee — if it can be identified — are typically referred to the servicer, who will then direct counsel back to MERS. This pattern of non-response gives the securitization conduit significant leverage in forcing consumers out of their homes. The prospect of waging a protracted discovery battle with all of these well funded parties in hopes of uncovering evidence of predatory lending can be too daunting even for those victims who know such evidence exists. So imposing is this opaque corporate wall, that in a ‘vast’ number of foreclosures, MERS actually succeeds in foreclosing without producing the original note — the legal sine qua non of foreclosure — much less documentation that could support predatory lending defenses.”

One of the first judges to hand Wall Street a serious slap down was Christopher A. Boyko of U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio. In an opinion dated October 31, 2007, Judge Boyko dismissed 14 foreclosures that had been brought on behalf of investors in securitizations. Judge Boyko delivered the following harsh rebuke in a footnote:

“Plaintiff’s ‘Judge, you just don’t understand how things work,’ argument reveals a condescending mindset and quasi-monopolistic system where financial institutions have traditionally controlled, and still control, the foreclosure process…There is no doubt every decision made by a financial institution in the foreclosure is driven by money. And the legal work which flows from winning the financial institution’s favor is highly lucrative. There is nothing improper or wrong with financial institutions or law firms making a profit – to the contrary, they should be rewarded for sound business and legal practices. However, unchallenged by underfinanced opponents, the institutions worry less about jurisdictional requirements and more about maximizing returns. Unlike the focus of financial institutions, the federal courts must act as gatekeepers…” (In Re Foreclosure Cases)

While the illegal foreclosure filings, investor lawsuits over securitization improprieties, and predatory lending challenges play out in courts across the country, a few sentences buried deep in Citigroup’s 10Q filing for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 signals that we’ve seen merely a few warts on the head of the securitization monster thus far and the massive torso remains well hidden in murky water.

Citigroup tells us that the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a new rule, SFAS No. 166, and this is going to have a significant impact on Citigroup’s Consolidated Financial Statements “as the Company will lose sales treatment for certain assets previously sold to QSPEs [Qualifying Special Purpose Entities], as well as for certain future sales, and for certain transfers of portions of assets that do not meet the definition of participating interests. Just when might we expect this new land mine to go off? “SFAS 166 is effective for fiscal years that begin after November 15, 2009.” There’s more bad news. The FASB has also issued SFAS 167 and, long story short, more of those off balance sheet assets are going to move back onto Citi’s books.

Bottom line says Citi:

“… the cumulative effect of adopting these new accounting standards as of January 1, 2010, based on financial information as of June 30, 2009, would result in an estimated aggregate after-tax charge to Retained earnings of approximately $8.3 billion, reflecting the net effect of an overall pretax charge to Retained earnings (primarily relating to the establishment of loan loss reserves and the reversal of residual interests held) of approximately $13.3 billion and the recognition of related deferred tax assets amounting to approximately $5.0 billion….” [Emphasis in original.]

I’m trying to imagine how the American taxpayer is going to be asked to put more money into Citigroup as it continues to bleed into infinity.

Citigroup is far from alone in financial hits that will be coming from the Qualifying Special Purpose Entities. Regulators are receiving letters from Citigroup and other Wall Street firms pressing hard to rethink when this change will take effect.

Putting aside for the moment the massive predatory lending frauds bundled into mortgage securitizations, inadequate debate has occurred on whether securitization of home mortgages (other than those of government sponsored enterprises) should be resuscitated or allowed to die a welcome death. If we understand the true function of Wall Street, to efficiently allocate capital, the answer must be a resounding no to this racket.

Trillions of dollars of bundled home mortgage loans and derivative side bets tied to those loans were being manufactured by Wall Street without any one asking the basic question: why is all this capital being invested in a dormant structure? Houses don’t think and innovate. Houses don’t spawn new technologies, patents, new industries. Houses don’t create the jobs of tomorrow.

Also, by acting as wholesale lenders to the unscrupulous mortgage firms (some in house at Wall Street firms), Wall Street was not responding to legitimate consumer demand, it was creating an artificial demand simply to create mortgage product to feed its securitization machine and generate big fees for itself. Now we see the aftermath of that inefficient allocation of capital: a massive glut of condos and homes pulling down asset prices in neighborhoods as well as in those ill-conceived securitizations whose triple-A ratings have been downgraded to junk.

There’s no doubt that one of the contributing factors to the depression of the 30s and the intractable unemployment today stem from a massive misallocation of capital to both bad ideas and fraud. Today’s Wall Street, it turns out, is just another straw man for a rigged wealth transfer system.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article other than that which the U.S. Treasury has thrust upon her and fellow Americans involuntarily through TARP. She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire. She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com

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New law denies homeowners access to legal representation

Posted on October 23, 2009. Filed under: Banking, Case Law, Foreclosure Defense, Housing, Legislation, Loan Modification, Mortgage Law, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

California has a new law on the books that bans collection of advance fees from firms that provide loan modification services to people struggling to avoid foreclosure.

Other real estate related bills signed into law this month by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aim to crack down on abusive lending practices by mortgage brokers; provide more safeguards for seniors taking out reverse mortgages; and require lenders to provide a summary translation of loan papers to non-English speakers.

Effective Oct. 11, Senate Bill 94 made it illegal for anyone to collect advance fees from consumers seeking a loan modification. The legislation closed a loophole that previously allowed state- licensed real estate brokers and attorneys to collect advance payments for loan modification services provided a client signed off on forms approved by the state Department of Real Estate.

SB 94 was written by state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.

“Over the past two years, unscrupulous attorneys and real estate brokers have abused their trusted roles and exploited desperate homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure. The loophole that allowed this abusive practice has now been closed, and homeowners should avoid any person charging upfront fees for foreclosure relief services,” state Attorney General Jerry Brown said in a statement.

Advance payments previously collected before Oct. 11 are not impacted by the law but no additional fees can be collected going forward,


said Tom Pool, a Department spokesman.

About 1,000 real estate brokers had previously submitted the required paperwork to collect advance payments before the law became effective, he said. More than 1,300 consumers have contacted the department with complaints about foreclosure rescue firms, most of which involved paying advance fees and not getting the loan modification assistance that was promised, he said. In many cases, the fees were collected by people who were not even licensed to offer loan modifications.

SB 94 only allows fees to be collected after the promised services are provided. Consumers must also be told that similar services are available from nonprofit housing counseling agencies approved by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Consumers must also be told they have the option of calling their lender directly to request a change in loan terms.

Effective Jan. 1, three other laws will kick in to provide more protections to consumer who take out home loans:

  • Assembly Bill 260, written by state Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, extends federal mortgage lending laws to state-regulated mortgage brokers. Among other things, mortgage brokers would be prohibited from steering borrowers into higher-priced, subprime loans in cases where they could qualify for a lower-interest, fixed-rate loan.AB 260 restricts the type of home loans that consumers have access to, said John Holmgren, an Oakland-based mortgage broker and spokesman for the California Association of Mortgage Brokers, which opposed the legislation.

    For now, subprime loans have pretty much gone away in response to tougher lending standards but Holmgren expects that demand for such products will eventually return when the economy improves.

    “It would be wonderful if every consumer had perfect credit” but that is not the case, Holmgren said. “It’s bad for those consumers (with poor credit scores) because it restricts their choice and that’s what this does … In this troubled economy, there is a number of people whose credit has suffered.”

    Mortgage brokers would also be banned from offering negative amortization loans, which results in a growing loan balance the longer the borrower holds the loan. Strict caps would also be placed on prepayment penalties.

  • Assembly Bill 329 adds existing consumer protections for reverse mortgages, which allow seniors to convert equity held in a home into tax-free income or a lump-sum payment while continuing to live in the home. Among other things, the law extends counseling requirements that apply to Federal Housing Administration-backed reverse mortgages to all lenders who offer reverse mortgages. The bill was written by state Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles.n”‚Assembly Bill 1160 requires mortgage lenders to provide a translated summary document in the language in which it was originally verbally negotiated with a borrower whose primary language is not English. The translation requirement applies to Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean languages. The law, written by state Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, extends translation requirements that already apply to mortgage brokers.

    Contra Costa Times

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    Memoranda in Support of Motions to Dismiss Foreclosure

    Posted on October 21, 2009. Filed under: Case Law, Foreclosure Defense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    2.3     Memoranda in Support of Motions to Dismiss Foreclosure

    2.3.1  Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Case #4

    IN THE CIRCUIT COURT, FOURTH

    JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR

    DUVAL COUNTY, FLORIDA.

    CASE NO.:

    DIVISION:

    MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION

    SYSTEMS, INC.,

    Plaintiff,

    vs.

    [DEFENDANT], DECEASED, ET AL

    Defendants.

    SEPARATE DEFENDANT, [SEPARATE DEFENDANT]’S MOTION TO CANCEL SUMMARY JUDGMENT HEARING, DISMISS PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT

    The Separate Defendant, [Separate Defendant],by and though her undersigned attorney, files this motion to cancel the summary judgment hearing, and dismiss the Plaintiff’s Complaint for failure to join an indispensable party, or in the alternative, for more definite statement, pursuant to Rules 1.460,  1.210(a), 1.130(a) and 1.140(b)(7) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and states:

    1.  This defendant was not able to access legal representation prior to her contact with Attorney [Attorney for Defendant] of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc., on February 23,

    2.  This separate defendant was served with a summons and complaint in this foreclosure action on January 1, 2005 and she was noticed for the February 24, 2005 summary judgment hearing on January 24, 2005.

    3.  Counsel for Defendant has made known to Plaintiff’s attorney this request for continuance of the scheduled hearing so that this defendant is able to have the benefit of legal representation to defend and protect her interests in this residential foreclosure.  However, counsel for plaintiff advises that he does not have authority without further contact with the plaintiff to consent to such continuance.

    5.  No prejudice will result to Plaintiff because of this Motion for Continuance.

    WHEREFORE, for the above stated reasons, Defendants request that the Court grant a continuance of the hearing on the Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Final Judgment.

    MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT

    1.   This separate defendant is the owner of the property which is the subject of this mortgage foreclosure Complaint.  She requests the Court dismiss this action pursuant to Rule 1.210(a) and 1.140(7), because it appears on the face of the Complaint that a person other than the Plaintiff is the true owner of the claim sued upon and that the Plaintiff is not the real party in interest and is not shown to be authorized to bring this action.  In re: Shelter Development Group, Inc., 50 B.R. 588 (Bankr.S.D.Fla. 1985) [It is axiomatic that a suit cannot be prosecuted to foreclose a mortgage which secures the payment of a promissory note, unless the Plaintiff actually holds the original note, citing Downing v. First National Bank of Lake City, 81 So.2d 486 (Fla. 1955)],  See also 37 Fla. Jur. Mortgages and Deeds of Trust §240 (One who does not have the ownership, possession, or the right to possession of the mortgage and the obligation secured by it, may not foreclose the mortgage)

    2.         Fla.R.Civ.P. Rule 1.130(a) requires a Plaintiff to attach copies of all “bonds, notes, bills of exchange, contracts, accounts, or documents upon which action may be brought” to its complaint.  The plaintiff has failed to attach a copy of the Promissory Note upon which its claim is based and the assignment attached to plaintiff’s complaint is only an assignment of the mortgage and not the note.  The assignment attached to the plaintiff’s complaint conflicts with the allegation in paragraph 3 of the plaintiff’s complaint which alleges that the assignment is of the mortgage and the promissory note.

    .           3.         Fla.R.Civ.P. Rule 1.310(b) provides that all exhibits attached to a pleading shall be considered a part of the pleading for all purposes.  It appears on the face of MERS’ Complaint that it is not the proper party to bring this action

    4.  Further, although the plaintiff names itself in the complaint as “Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as Nominee For Homecomings Financial Network, Inc.” the documents attached to the plaintiff’s complaint conflict and therefore cancel out said allegations.

    5.    In this case, MERS’ allegations of material facts claiming it is the owner of the subject note are inconsistent with the documents attached to the Complaint.   Further, MERS has alleged it does not have the original promissory note.  When exhibits are inconsistent with the plaintiff’s allegations of material fact as to who the real party in interest is, such allegations cancel each other out. Fladell v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, 772 So.2d 1240 (Fla. 2000); Greenwald v. Triple D Properties, Inc., 424 So. 2d 185, 187 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983); Costa Bella Development Corp. v. Costa Development Corp., 441 So. 2d 1114 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1983).

    6.  Rule 1.210(a) of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in pertinent part:

    “Every action may be prosecuted in the name of

    the real party in interest, but a personal representative,

    administrator, guardian, trustee of an express trust, a party

    with whom or in whose name a contract has been made for

    the benefit of another, or a party expressly authorized by

    statute may sue in that person’s own name without joining

    the party for whose benefit the action is brought…”

    The plaintiff in this action meets none of these criteria.

    7.  The plaintiff must allege that it is the owner and holder of the note and mortgage in question in order to be entitled to maintain an action on the note and mortgage which the plaintiff has not properly alleged in this case. Your Construction Center, Inc. v. Gross, 316 So. 2d 596 (Fl. 4th DCA 1975)

    8. Plaintiff Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”) does not have standing to pursue this action.  Standing depends on whether a party has a sufficient stake in a justiciable controversy, whether a legally cognizable interest would be affected by the outcome of the litigation.  Nedeau v Gallagher 851 So.2d 214, 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 9762, 28 Fla. L. Weekly D 1537 (1st District, 2003).

    9.  Standing encompasses not only the “sufficient stake” definition, but at the at least equally important requirement that the claim be brought by or on behalf of one who is recognized by the law and a “real party in interest”, that is “the person in whom rests, by substantive law, the claim sought to be enforced.  Kumar Corp. v Nopal Lines, Ltd, et al 462 So. 2d 1178, 1985 Fla.App.  LEXIS 11940.41U.C.C. Rep. Serv. (Callaghan) 69; 10 Fla. L. Weekly 189 (3rd District1985).

    10. It is axiomatic that a suit cannot be prosecuted to foreclose a mortgage which secures the payment of a promissory note, unless the Plaintiff actually holds the original note. A Plaintiff that does not hold the original notes sued has no standing and such action must be dismissed with prejudice Shelter Development Group v. MMA of Georgia, Inc 50 B.R. 588 (USBC, S.D. Florida 1985) Downing v. First National Bank of Lake City, , 81 So. 2d 486, (Fla., 1955) Tamiami Abstract and Title Company v.  Berman, 324 So. 2d 137 (Fla 3rd DCA> 1975) Laing v. Gainey Builders, Inc. 184 So. 2d 897 (Fla. 1st DCA 1966).  See also Davanzo v. Resolute Insurance Company, et al. 346 So.2d 1227, 1977 Fla.App. LEXIS 16014  (One who holds legal title to a mortgaged property is an indispensable party in suit to foreclose a mortgage).

    WHEREFORE, this separate defendant requests the Court to dismiss the Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice; or alternatively to order the Plaintiff to add the owner and holder of the subject note and mortgage as an indispensable party to this foreclosure action, and award this defendant attorney’s fees and all other relief to which she proves herself entitled.

    CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

    The undersigned certifies that a true copy of this document has been faxed and mailed by U.S. Mail to [Attorney for Plaintiff] this _______________________________.

    JACKSONVILLE AREA LEGAL AID, INC.,

    ____________________________________

    [Attorney for Separate Defendant]

    Attorneys for Separate Defendant

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    Lawyers Tempted By Foreclosure Crisis

    Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: Foreclosure Defense, Fraud, Loan Modification, Mortgage Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

    The foreclosure crisis has resulted in a lot of work for lawyers hired to try to help struggling owners hang onto their homes.

    But it has also resulted in a record number of complaints concerning claimed unscrupulous practices, some of which have already led to disciplinary action, according to a Daily Business Review article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

    “There has definitely been a trend in the last six months or year where attorneys are having some involvement in loan modification scams,” says Arne Vanstrum of the Florida Bar.

    He says the Florida Bar received 100 complaints in the last six months concerning lawyers involved in loan modifications, many of them in South Florida. Meanwhile, the state attorney general’s office got 756 complaints through August, a record. In all of 2008, the AG’s office got only 61 such complaints, the business publication recounts in a lengthy article.

    Meanwhile, the California State Bar has taken the unusual step of making public the names of 16 attorneys accused of misconduct concerning loan modification matters.

    Attorneys often get into trouble because of fee issues. Clients should be charged based on the amount of time it takes to handle their matter, not the size of the mortgage, says George Castrataro. He formerly worked for the Legal Aid Service of Broward County and is now in private practice. Clients also need to be clearly informed if representation will not begin until they have made a number of monthly payments to cover a required minimum retainer, he tells the Daily Business Review.

    Another potential ethical pitfall is presented if a lawyer is too closely involved with a non-law-firm loan modification company, says Ryan Wiggins, who serves as deputy director of the state AG’s office.

    Under a 2008 federal law that doesn’t apply to attorneys, loan modification companies can’t charge upfront fees, he explains to the business publication. This has led a number of firms to affiliate with attorneys, but unless the attorney is acting as a lawyer and actually representing company clients he or she is then in violation of the federal law, too, according to Wiggins.

    Many complainants also contend that lawyers take their money and then do little or no wor

    via Tempted By Foreclosure Crisis, Some Lawyers Overcharge & Underwork | ABA Journal – Law News Now.

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    Marcy Kaptur to Banks: “Produce The Note”

    Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Foreclosure Defense, Fraud, Loan Modification, Mortgage Audit, Mortgage Fraud, Mortgage Law, Politics, Predatory Lending, right to rescind, Truth in Lending Act | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Fight Club entered popular culture in 1999 when director David Fincher adapted Chuck Palahniuk’s novel into a film that reflected the zeitgeist of modern America with its empty culture, obsession with aesthetic beauty, and slavish under and middle classes.

    Warning: Decade-old spoiler coming up.

    The film ends with the agents of “Project Mayhem,” protagonist Tyler Durden’s followers, destroying the headquarters of the major credit card companies with many tons of explosives. Durden’s theory is that without the records of debt, everyone gets a fresh start. They are no longer slaves to the banks, and they are free.

    This concept resonated hugely with Americans, and not just the douche bag frat boys who taped Brad Pitt’s six-pack to their dorm walls. Citizens are working harder for less these days, and the American ennui originating from Reagan’s tyrannical reign of deregulation, union busting, and middle-class rape has now exploded into severe disillusionment and anger. Americans are being crushed by debt, can’t afford health care, and have less job security than ever.

    Even the dimmest Americans know they’re getting screwed by Wall Street fat cats, and nothing could have made that reality clearer than the bailouts: $1 trillion dollars of taxpayer money that went to line the pockets of the guys and gals who crashed the economy.

    And if that wasn’t bad enough, once the fat cats and credit card companies’ armies of Repo Men were through collecting the contents of the houses, they came back for the houses themselves. The banks tried to sell the old, familiar lie that “irresponsible people” i.e. “black people” went and got themselves into a mess they couldn’t dig themselves out of, which was almost always a lie. Subprime lenders issued mortgages in a predatory fashion, frequently lied, and used creative math to convince people they could afford mortgages with hidden, adjustable interest rates.

    Those that can afford to play Capitalism: The Game prosper, while the rest of society suffers. Of course, those of us who don’t work for the Big 4 banks in the Too Big To Fail gang, wither and die. Today, The New York Times announced the 100th small bank failure of 2009. Don’t expect any mourning. The bank isn’t named “JPMorgan Chase.”

    It’s projected that by 2012, there will be eight million home foreclosures in the United States. Lots of politicians are siding with the banks during the foreclosure epidemic, but a few brave souls are standing up to the Wall Street criminals.

    More…

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    Massive Relief for Homeowners and Trouble for Banks

    Posted on September 23, 2009. Filed under: Bailout, Banking, Case Law, Foreclosure Defense, Mortgage Audit, Mortgage Law, Predatory Lending | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    A landmark ruling in a recent Kansas Supreme Court case may have given millions of distressed homeowners the legal wedge they need to avoid foreclosure. In Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 2009 Kan. LEXIS 834, the Kansas Supreme Court held that a nominee company called MERS has no right or standing to bring an action for foreclosure. MERS is an acronym for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a private company that registers mortgages electronically and tracks changes in ownership. The significance of the holding is that if MERS has no standing to foreclose, then nobody has standing to foreclose — on 60 million mortgages. That is the number of American mortgages currently reported to be held by MERS. Over half of all new U.S. residential mortgage loans are registered with MERS and recorded in its name. Holdings of the Kansas Supreme Court are not binding on the rest of the country, but they are dicta of which other courts take note; and the reasoning behind the decision is sound.

    Eliminating the “Straw Man” Shielding Lenders and Investors from Liability

    The development of “electronic” mortgages managed by MERS went hand in hand with the “securitization” of mortgage loans — chopping them into pieces and selling them off to investors. In the heyday of mortgage securitizations, before investors got wise to their risks, lenders would slice up loans, bundle them into “financial products” called “collateralized debt obligations” (CDOs), ostensibly insure them against default by wrapping them in derivatives called “credit default swaps,” and sell them to pension funds, municipal funds, foreign investment funds, and so forth. There were many secured parties, and the pieces kept changing hands; but MERS supposedly kept track of all these changes electronically. MERS would register and record mortgage loans in its name, and it would bring foreclosure actions in its name. MERS not only facilitated the rapid turnover of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, but it has served as a sort of “corporate shield” that protects investors from claims by borrowers concerning predatory lending practices. California attorney Timothy McCandless describes the problem like this:

    via Ellen Brown: Landmark Decision Promises Massive Relief for Homeowners and Trouble for Banks.

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    U.S. partners in home loan modifications accused of broad abuses

    Posted on August 9, 2009. Filed under: Foreclosure Defense, Fraud, Housing, Legislation, Loan Modification, Mortgage Audit, Mortgage Fraud, Mortgage Law, Predatory Lending | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    WASHINGTON — Billions of dollars that the government is spending to help financially pressed homeowners avert foreclosure are passing through — and enriching — companies accused of preying on the people they are supposed to help, an Associated Press investigation has found.The companies, known as mortgage servicers, collect monthly payments from homeowners and funnel the money to the banks or investors who hold the loans. As the link between borrowers and lenders, they’re in the best position to rework the terms of loans under the government’s$50 billion mortgage-modification program.The servicers are paid by the government if the changes keep home-owners from falling behind on payments for at least three months.But the industry has a checkered history. At least 30 servicers have been accused in lawsuits of harassing borrowers, imposing illegal fees and charging for unnecessary insurance policies. More recently, the companies also have been criticized for not helping homeowners quickly enough.The biggest players in the servicing industry — Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. — all face litigation.But the industry’s smaller players, which specialize in riskier subprime loans and loans already in default, face harsher accusations that they systematically abused borrowers.

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    DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY v. ROLANDO CAMPBELL, et al.

    Posted on July 8, 2009. Filed under: Banking, bankruptcy, Case Law, Foreclosure Defense, Legislation, Loan Modification, Mortgage Audit, Mortgage Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    Deutsche Bank has some explaining to do.  Why would they buy a nonperforming loan from MERS 142 days after a payment default?

    The instant foreclosure application states that defendant CAMPBELL defaulted on his mortgage payments by failing to make his April 1, 2007 and subsequent monthly loan payments. Yet, on August 20, 2007, 142 days subsequent to defendant CAMPBELL’s alleged May 1, 2007 payment default, plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK was willing to take an assignment of the instant nonperforming loan from MERS, as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN. Thus, the Court requires, upon renewal of this motion for summary judgment and an order of reference, a satisfactory explanation from an officer of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11 as to why DEUTSCHE BANK purchased a nonperforming mortgage loan from MERS, as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN.

    DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, as trustee for First Franklin Mortgage Loan Trust 2006-FF 11, 3476 Stateview Boulevard Fort Mill, SC 29715, Plaintiff,
    v.
    ROLANDO CAMPBELL, et al., Defendants.
    31764/07
    Supreme Court of the State of New York, Kings County.
    Decided December 16, 2008.
    Tracy M Fourtner, Esq., Steven Baum PC, Buffalo NY, Plaintiff.
    ARTHUR M. SCHACK, J.
    Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and an order of reference for the premises located at 780 New Jersey Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (Block 4299, Lot 43, County of Kings) is denied without prejudice, with leave to renew upon providing the Court with: a copy of a valid assignment of the instant mortgage to plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE FOR FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11 (DEUTSCHE BANK); a satisfactory explanation of the conflict of interest by plaintiff’s counsel, Steven J. Baum, P.C., with respect to the August 20, 2007 assignment of the instant mortgage and note from MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC. (MERS), as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN, A DIVISION OF NATIONAL CITY BANK OF IN (FIRST FRANKLIN), by Darleen Karaszewski, Esq., the assignor, an attorney employed by Steven J. Baum, P.C., plaintiff’s counsel, and the simultaneous representation by Steven J. Baum, P.C., of assignee plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK; and, an affidavit by an officer of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, explaining why plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK purchased the instant nonperforming loan.

    Background
    Defendant ROLANDO CAMPBELL borrowed $420,000.00 from FIRST FRANKLIN on May 1, 2006. The note and mortgage were recorded in the Office of the City Register, New York City Department of Finance on June 2, 2006, at City Register File Number (CRFN) 2006000308921. MERS, the nominee of FIRST FRANKLIN for the purpose of recording the mortgage, purportedly assigned the mortgage and note to plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK on August 20, 2007, effective August 10, 2007, with the assignment recorded on September 11, 2007, at CRFN 2007000467191. The assignment was executed by “Darleen Karaszewski, Esq. On [sic] behalf of MERS, by Corporate Resolution dated 7/19/07.” Neither a corporate resolution nor a power of attorney to Ms. Karaszewski were recorded with the assignment. Thus, the assignment is invalid and plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK lacks standing to bring the instant foreclosure action.

    Further, the assignor, Ms. Karaszewski, according to the Office of Court Administration’s Attorney Registration, has as her business address, “Steven Baum, P.C., 220 Northpointe Parkway, Suite G, Amherst, NY 14228-1894.” Two days after Ms. Karaszweski executed the invalid MERS assignment, August 22, 2007, plaintiff’s counsel, Steven J. Baum, P.C., commenced the instant action on behalf of purported assignee DEUTSCHE BANK, with the filing of a notice of pendency, and the summons and complaint in the Kings County Clerk’s Office. The Court is concerned that the simultaneous representation by Steven J. Baum, P.C. of both MERS and DEUTSCHE BANK is a conflict of interest in violation of 22 NYCRR § 1200.24, the Disciplinary Rule of the Code of Professional Responsibility, entitled “Conflict of Interest; Simultaneous Representation.”

    The instant foreclosure application states that defendant CAMPBELL defaulted on his mortgage payments by failing to make his April 1, 2007 and subsequent monthly loan payments. Yet, on August 20, 2007, 142 days subsequent to defendant CAMPBELL’s alleged May 1, 2007 payment default, plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK was willing to take an assignment of the instant nonperforming loan from MERS, as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN. Thus, the Court requires, upon renewal of this motion for summary judgment and an order of reference, a satisfactory explanation from an officer of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11 as to why DEUTSCHE BANK purchased a nonperforming mortgage loan from MERS, as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN.

    Discussion
    The proponent of a summary judgment motion must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to eliminate any material issues of fact from the case. (Alvarez v Prospect Hospital, 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]; Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 NY2d 557, 562 [1980]; Sillman v Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 3 NY2d 395, 404 [1957]). Failure to make such a showing requires denial of the motion, regardless of the sufficiency of the opposing papers. (Matter of Redemption Church of Christ v Williams, 84 AD2d 648, 649 [3d Dept 1981]; Greenberg v Manlon Realty, 43 AD2d 968, 969 [2d Dept 1974];Winegrad v New York University Medical Center, 64 NY2d 851 [1985]).

    CPLR 3212 (b) requires that for a court to grant summary judgment the court must determine if the movant’s papers justify holding as a matter of law “that there is no defense to the cause of action or that the cause of action or defense has no merit.” The evidence submitted in support of the movant must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant. (Marine Midland Bank, N.A. v Dino & Artie’s Automatic Transmission Co., 168 AD2d 610 [2d Dept 1990]). Once the movant has established his or her prima facie case, the party opposing a motion for summary judgment bears the burden of “produc[ing] evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to require a trial of material questions of fact . . . mere conclusions, expressions of hope or unsubstantiated allegations or assertions are insufficient” (Zuckerman v City of New York, supra at 562; see also Romano v St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Richmond, 178 AD2d 467, 470 [2d Dept 1991]; Tessier v New York City Health & Hospitals Corp., 177 AD2d 626 [2d Dept 1991]).

    Summary judgment shall be granted only when there are no issues of material fact and the evidence requires the court to direct judgment in favor of the movant as a matter of law. (Friends of Animals, Inc., v Associated Fur Mfrs., 46 NY2d 1065 [1979]).

    Plaintiff, in the instant action, moved for summary judgment and an order of reference on July 9, 2008. Defendant CAMPBELL appeared pro se, with opposition papers, in the Foreclosure Motion Part on August 7, 2008. The motion was adjourned to October 3, 2008 for oral argument before me. On October 3, 2008 the matter was adjourned to December 12, 2008.

    Plaintiff appeared on December 12, 2008 for oral argument, but defendant CAMPBELL defaulted. However, the Court is required to review, as noted above, the motion papers to determine if plaintiff made a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to eliminate any material issues of fact from the case. (Alvarez v Prospect Hospital, supra; Zuckerman v City of New York, supra; Sillman v Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., supra). The Court’s review of plaintiff’s moving papers demonstrates that plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK fails to make such a showing. Therefore, the Court denies the instant motion.

    Plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK must have “standing” to bring this action. The Court of Appeals (Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Inc. v Pataki, 100 NY2d, 901, 812 [2003]), cert denied 540 US 1017 [2003]) held that “[s]tanding to sue is critical to the proper functioning of the judicial system. It is a threshold issue. If standing is denied, the pathway to the courthouse is blocked. The plaintiff who has standing, however, may cross the threshold and seek judicial redress.” In Carper v Nussbaum, 36 AD3d 176, 181 (2d Dept 2006), the Court held that “[s]tanding to sue requires an interest in the claim at issue in the lawsuit that the law will recognize as a sufficient predicate for determining the issue at the litigant’s request.

    ” If a plaintiff lacks standing to sue, the plaintiff may not proceed in the action. (Stark v Goldberg, 297 AD2d 203 [1d Dept 2002]). “Since standing is jurisdictional and goes to a court’s authority to resolve litigation [the court] can raise this matter sua sponte.” (Axelrod v New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, 154 AD2D 827, 828 [3d Dept 1989]).

    In the instant action, the August 20, 2007 assignment from MERS to DEUTSCHE BANK is defective. Therefore, DEUTSCHE BANK has no standing to bring this action. The recorded assignment by “Darleen Karaszewski, Esq. On [sic] behalf of MERS, by Corporate Resolution dated 7/19/07,” has neither the corporate resolution nor a power of attorney attached and recorded.

    Real Property Law (RPL) § 254 (9) states: Power of attorney to assignee. The word “assign” or other words of assignment, when contained in an assignment of a mortgage and bond or mortgage and note, must be construed as having included in their meaning that the assignor does thereby make, constitute and appoint the assignee the true and lawful attorney, irrevocable, of the assignor, in the name of the assignor, or otherwise, but at the proper costs and charges of the assignee, to have, use and take all lawful ways and means for the recovery of the money and interest secured by the said mortgage and bond or mortgage and note, and in case of payment to discharge the same as fully as the assignor might or could do if the assignment were not made. [Emphasis added]

    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. “No special form or language is necessary to effect an assignment as long as the language shows the intention of the owner of a right to transfer it [Emphasis added].” (Tawil v Finkelstein Bruckman Wohl Most & Rothman, 223 AD2d 52, 55 [1d Dept 1996]; see Suraleb, Inc. v International Trade Club, Inc., 13 AD3d 612 [2d Dept 2004]).

    To foreclose on a mortgage, a party must have title to the mortgage. The instant assignment is a nullity. The Appellate Division, Second Department (Kluge v Fugazy, 145 AD2d 537, 538 [2d Dept 1988]), held that a “foreclosure of a mortgage may not be brought by one who has no title to it and absent transfer of the debt, the assignment of the mortgage is a nullity.” The Appellate Division, First Department, citing Kluge v Fugazy, (Katz v East-Ville Realty Co., 249 AD2d 243 [1st Dept 1998]), instructed that “[p]laintiff’s attempt to foreclose upon a mortgage in which he had no legal or equitable interest was without foundation in law or fact.”

    It is clear that plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK, with the invalid assignment of the instant mortgage and note from MERS, lacks standing to foreclose on the instant mortgage. The Court, in Campaign v Barba (23 AD3d 327 [2d Dept 2005]), held that “[t]o establish a prima facie case in an action to foreclose a mortgage, the plaintiff must establish the existence of the mortgage and the mortgage note, ownership of the mortgage, and the defendant’s default in payment [Emphasis added].” (See Household Finance Realty Corp. of New York v Wynn, 19 AD3d 545 [2d Dept 2005]; Sears Mortgage Corp. v Yahhobi, 19 AD3d 402 [2d Dept 2005]; Ocwen Federal Bank FSB v Miller, 18 AD3d 527 [2d Dept 2005]; U.S. Bank Trust Nat. Ass’n v Butti, 16 AD3d 408 [2d Dept 2005]; First Union Mortgage Corp. v Fern, 298 AD2d 490 [2d Dept 2002]; Village Bank v Wild Oaks Holding, Inc., 196 AD2d 812 [2d Dept 1993]).

    Even if plaintiff can cure the assignment defect, plaintiff’s counsel then has to address the conflict of interest in the representation of both the assignor of the instant mortgage, MERS, and the assignee of the instant mortgage, DEUTSCHE BANK. 22 NYCRR § 1200.24, of the Disciplinary Rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility, entitled “Conflict of Interest; Simultaneous Representation,” states in relevant part:
    (a) A lawyer shall decline proffered employment if the exercise of independent professional judgment in behalf of a client will be or is likely to be adversely affected by the acceptance of the proffered employment, or if it would be likely to involve the lawyer in representing differing interests, except to the extent permitted under subdivision (c) of this section. (b) A lawyer shall not continue multiple employment if the exercise of independent professional judgment in behalf of a client will be or is likely to be adversely affected by the lawyer’s representation of another client, or if it would be likely to involve the lawyer in representing differing interests, except to the extent permitted under subdivision (c) of this section.(c) in the situations covered by subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section, a lawyer may represent multiple clients if a disinterested lawyer would believe that the lawyer can competently represent the interest of each and if each consents to the representation after full disclosure of the implications of the simultaneous representation and the advantages and risks involved. [Emphasis added]
    The Court needs to know if both MERS and DEUTSCHE BANK were aware of the simultaneous representation by plaintiff’s counsel, Steven J. Baum, P.C., and whether both consented. If plaintiff moves to renew its motion for summary judgment and an order of reference, the Court needs an affirmation by Steven J. Baum, Esq., the principal of Steven J. Baum, P.C., explaining if both MERS and DEUTSCHE BANK consented to simultaneous representation in the instant action with “full disclosure of the implications of the simultaneous representation and the advantages and risks involved.

    ” The Appellate Division, Fourth Department, the Department in which both Ms. Karaszewski and Mr. Baum are registered, (In re Rogoff, 31 AD3d 111 [2006]) censured an attorney, for inter alia, violating 22 NYCRR § 1200.24, by representing both a buyer and sellers in the sale of a motel.

    The Court, at 112, found that the attorney, “failed to make appropriate disclosures to either the sellers or the buyer concerning dual representation.” Further, the Court, at 113, censured the attorney, after it considered the matters submitted by respondent in mitigation, including: that respondent undertook the dual representation at the insistence of the buyer, had no financial interest in the transaction and charged the sellers and the buyer one half of his usual fee. Additionally, we note that respondent cooperated with the Grievance Committee and has expressed remorse for his misconduct.

    Next, if a power of attorney is used for an agent to act as MERS’ assignor of the instant mortgage and loan to DEUTSCHE BANK, the power of attorney presented to the Court must be an original or a copy certified by an attorney, pursuant to CPLR § 2105. CPLR § 2105 states that “an attorney admitted to practice in the court of the state may certify that it has been compared by him with the original and found to be a true and complete copy.” (See Security Pacific Nat. Trust Co. v Cuevas, 176 Misc 2d 846 [Civ Ct, Kings County 1998]).

    Last, the Court requires a satisfactory explanation from an officer of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF 11 as to why in the middle of our national subprime mortgage financial crisis, plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK purchased from MERS, as nominee of FIRST FRANKLIN, the instant nonperforming loan. The Court wonders if DEUTSCHE BANK violated a corporate fiduciary duty to the noteholders of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11with the purchase of a loan that defaulted 142 days prior to its assignment from MERS to FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, rather than keep the mortgage loan on FIRST FRANKLIN’s books.

    The Court is not sure that the noteholders of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11 are aware that DEUTSCHE BANK purchased the instant “toxic” nonperforming mortgage loan for the Trust. It could well be that MERS, as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN, with the acquiescence of DEUTSCHE BANK, transferred the instant nonperforming loan, as well as others, to the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, as part of what former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan referred to in his October 23, 2008 testimony, before the House Oversight Committee, as “a once in a century credit tsunami.”

    Conclusion
    Accordingly, it is
    ORDERED that the motion of plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE FOR FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, for summary judgment and an order of reference for the premises located at 780 New Jersey Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (Block 4299, Lot 43, County of Kings) is denied without prejudice, and it is further

    ORDERED that leave is granted to plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE FOR FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, to renew its motion for summary judgment and an order of reference for the premises located at 780 New Jersey Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (Block 4299, Lot 43, County of Kings), upon presentation to the Court, within sixty (60) days of this decision and order of: (1) a valid assignment of the instant mortgage and note to plaintiff,
    DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE FOR FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11; (2) an affirmation from Steven J. Baum, Esq., the principal of Steven J. Baum, P.C., explaining if both MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., the assignor of the instant mortgage and note, and DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE FOR FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, the assignee of the instant mortgage and note, pursuant to 22 NYCRR § 1200.24, consented to simultaneous representation in the instant action, with “full disclosure of the implications of the simultaneous representation and the advantages and risks involved” explained to them; and, (3) an affidavit from an officer of the FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11, explaining why plaintiff DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE FOR FIRST FRANKLIN MORTGAGE LOAN TRUST 2006-FF11 purchased a nonperforming loan from MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., as nominee for FIRST FRANKLIN, A DIVISION OF NATIONAL CITY BANK OF IN.
    This constitutes the Decision and Order of the Court.

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    Washington Mutual v. Raymond & Rhonda Payne

    Posted on July 8, 2009. Filed under: Case Law, Foreclosure Defense, Housing, Mortgage Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK, NA, Plaintiff,
    v.
    RAYMOND R. PAYNE AND RHONDA K. PAYNE, Defendants.

    Supreme Court, Suffolk County.
    Decided June 15, 2009.
    Shapiro & DiCaro, LLP, Rochester, NY, Attys. for Plaintiff.
    David Gevanter, ESQ., Hicksville, NY, Attys. for Defendants.
    THOMAS F. WHELAN, J.
    ORDERED that this motion (#004) by defendant, Raymond R. Payne, for an order staying the public sale of the subject premises, vacating the judgment of foreclosure and sale and dismissing the complaint is considered under CPLR 5015 and is denied.

    The plaintiff obtained a judgment of foreclosure and sale in this action on December 1, 2003. Prior thereto, the default on the part of the mortgagor defendants (Raymond and Rhonda Payne) was fixed and determined in an order appointing a referee to compute amounts due under the mortgage. For reasons not reflected in the record adduced on the instant motion, the public sale contemplated by the December 1, 2003 judgment has not yet been consummated.
    By prior motion returnable February 23, 2007, the mortgagor/defendants, Raymond R. Payne and Rhonda Payne, moved to stay any impending sale of the premises, for a vacatur of the judgment of foreclosure and sale and dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to acquire personal jurisdiction over them by due service of the summons and complaint. By order dated September 28, 2007, this court denied that application without a hearing, finding that the same was unmeritorious.
    By the instant motion, defendant, Raymond R. Payne, moves again for a stay of the impending sale of the subject premises, an order vacating the judgment of foreclosure and sale and dismissal of the complaint pursuant to CPLR 5015. Although the order to show cause by which this motion was interposed lists several grounds for the requested relief, including improper service of the summons and complaint, the gravamen of the defendant’s demands for relief rest upon claims that the plaintiff lacked standing to commence and maintain this action due to its lack of ownership of the subject note and mortgage at the time of commencement of this action. For the reasons set forth below the motion is denied.
    Recent case authorities emanating from the Second Department have held that the issue of the plaintiff’s standing is not a matter of subject matter jurisdiction but rather, is more akin to the issue of the plaintiff’s capacity to sue. In Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota National Association v Mastropaolo, 42 AD3d 239, 837 NYS2d 247 (2d Dept 2003), the Appellate Division, Second Department, instructed that “[w]here standing is put into issue by a defendant’s answer, a plaintiff must prove its standing if it is to be entitled to relief (see TPZ Corp. v Dabbs, 25 AD3d 787, 789, 808 NYS2d 746 [2d Dept 2006]; see also Society of Plastics Indus. v County of Suffolk, 77 NY2d 761, 769, 570 NYS2d 778 [1991] [standing is an aspect of justiciability which, when challenged, must be considered at the outset of any litigation’ [emphasis added])”.
    Continuing, the Court in Mastropaolo instructed that “where a defendant does not challenge a plaintiff’s standing, the plaintiff may be relieved of its obligation to prove that it is the proper party to seek the requested relief”. The Court went on to hold that “an argument that a plaintiff lacks standing, if not asserted in the defendant’s answer or in a pre-answer motion to dismiss the complaint, is waived pursuant to CPLR 3211(e)” [citations omitted]). (see Wells Fargo Bank Minn., NA v Mastropaolo, 42 AD3d 239, 242, 837 NYS2d 247, 250).
    More recently, the Appellate Division, Second Department held that a defaulting defendant who moves for vacatur of a judgment of foreclosure and sale and a dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiff was without standing to prosecute its claims for foreclosure and sale due to its lack of ownership of the note and mortgage, could not prevail on such application because said defendant waived the standing defense by failing to assert it in an answer or by way of a pre-answer motion to dismiss under CPLR 3211 (see HSBC Bank v Dammond, 59 AD3d 679, 875 NYS2d 490
    Page 3
    [2d Dept 2009]).

    Since the moving defendant here has taken the same position as the unsuccessful movant in Dammond, this court denies defendant’s motion to vacate the judgment of foreclosure and sale on the grounds that the plaintiff lacked standing to prosecute that claim.
    To the extent that this motion may be read as one for a stay of the sale, a vacatur of the December 3, 2003 judgment and a dismissal of the complaint on the grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction, it is denied. This second application for such for relief by the moving defendant, Raymond R. Payne, is procedurally improper and substantively insufficient in light of his prior, unsuccessful application for the same relief and the absence of any proof whatsoever, in support thereof.

    Equally unavailing are the vague and conclusory claims of fraud which said defendant now asserts by his counsel against the plaintiff (see Wells Fargo Bank v Linzenberg, 50 AD3d 674, 853 NYS2d 912 [2d Dept 2008]; Aames Capital Corp. v Davidsohn, 24 AD3d 474, 808 NYS2d 229 [2d Dept 2005]).

    In view of the foregoing, the instant motion is in all respects denied.

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    Why banks want you all alone when negotiating a loan modification

    Posted on July 5, 2009. Filed under: Banking, bankruptcy, Case Law, Foreclosure Defense, Housing, Legislation, Loan Modification, Mortgage Audit, Mortgage Law, Politics, Predatory Lending, Refinance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    They are telling you to run away from loan modification companies who charge a fee. They are paying the politicians to introduce laws making it difficult for you to hire an attorney when negotiating a loan workout. They want you to contact them directly and without the assistance of an advocate. They are scaring you to think that anyone who charges a fee for helping you negotiate a loan modification must be a crook. They claim all mortgage professionals, lawyers and forensic loan examiners who charge a fee are scam artists. They say it should all be free because theoretically you can do all of it yourself.

    Just like you can file your own taxes and represent yourself in court, you can also spend the time and effort to learn the ins and outs and nuances of negotiating a favorable loan modification with the same predatory bank that put you in the mess you are in. You can stay up all night and study law so you can go up against their high priced lawyers. You can take time off work and stay on the phone four hours a day trying to get through to their loss mitigation departments. You can re-send the same documents over and over again because mysteriously they keep losing your entire file more than once. That is right you can certainly do this all yourself.

    And the reason why you should go to the negotiating table all alone and without any backup is because they want to protect you from the big bad lawyers, mortgage auditors and loan modification companies who have the nerve to charge a fee for helping you! Imagine that. People actually want to make a living while providing a valuable service. What a crime.

    Is anyone with an IQ above 10 buying this nonsense? If you had a choice would you go to an IRS audit without a skilled CPA? Would you defend yourself in a criminal trial without the best lawyer money could buy? So why should negotiating with a bank be any different than negotiating with the IRS? Because bankers are more ethical than IRS agents? That must be it.

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