MERS Can’t Kill Pa. Deed Recorders’ Class Action

MERS Can’t Kill Pa. Deed Recorders’ Class Action

Law360, Philadelphia (April 22, 2014, 7:02 PM ET) — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Monday upheld the constitutionality of a statute requiring the registration of deeds, in a ruling that keeps alive a class action brought by Pennsylvania counties alleging that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. violated the law.

U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner ruled in favor of the counties’ deed recorders, rejecting MERS’ claims that the state law that obligates it to record all mortgage assignments with county deed offices and to pay the attendant recording fees was too vague. 


Family’s foreclosure fight could bring changes in law

Family’s foreclosure fight could bring changes in law

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bob Rabatoy’s family is fighting in court to keep their home.

“It ain’t the beautiful-est house in the world, but it’s ours,” he says.

His fight could lead to changes in city foreclosure practices.

If you don’t pay your property taxes, your local government can foreclose on it and auction off your property to pay the back taxes, often amounting to thousands of dollars. That happens everywhere.

But in the City of Buffalo, you can lose your home – as the Rabatoys did – over garbage user fees, which in most cases, are only a few hundred dollars.

The case has turned into a call for foreclosure reform in Buffalo, after the city auctioned the family’s home out from under them over $442 in unpaid garbage user fees. Bob and his wife Lillian are now facing the threat of eviction.

“It is going to be very tough,” Bob said. “Where are you going to find a place in the middle of the month?””

The Rabatoys are now in court to keep the New Jersey man who bought the house on Esser Avenue from taking it. A judge has issued an order allowing the family to stay in their Riverside home.

Buffalo attorney Michael Risman is representing the Rabatoys, and their daughter Dawn Gonzales, who owns the Esser Avenue home, with her husband Jose.


IRS gave bonuses to employees who didn’t pay their taxes

IRS gave bonuses to employees who didn’t pay their taxes

The Internal Revenue Service handed out $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary issues—including more than $1 million to employees who didn’t pay their federal taxes, a watchdog report says.

The report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said 1,146 IRS employees received bonuses within a year of substantiated federal tax compliance problems.

And the bonuses weren’t just monetary. Employees with tax problems received a total of 10,582 hours of paid time off—valued at about $250,000—and 69 received permanent raises through a step increase, the report said. The report looked at bonuses in 2011 and 2012.

Employees’ tax problems included “willful understatement of tax liabilities over multiple tax years, late payment of tax liabilities, and underreporting of income,” the report said.


Grandmother evicted from HUD home for cigarettes

Grandmother evicted from HUD home for cigarettes

Beulah Toombs started smoking a long time ago. She isn’t sure exactly when, but she was young. Maybe it was 1935, the year Babe Ruth quit playing baseball. Or maybe 1939, the year “The Grapes of Wrath” was published. But it was definitely before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Beulah – her friends call her Billie – is 89 years old, and she is still smoking. For a woman smoking since the Roosevelt administration, she is remarkably healthy. But now she has a problem. A little more than a year ago, her apartment building in Milford went smoke-free. She had one year to quit, but she just could not do it. Or maybe she never tried.

The apartment building, the AHEPA 127 Apartments, started keeping track of her smoking transgressions. Eventually, management deemed Beulah “non-compliant.”

They gave her one last chance to quit, and Beulah made her decision.


REFILE-Ex-Bank of America employee avoids punishment in bid rigging case

REFILE-Ex-Bank of America employee avoids punishment in bid rigging case

(Reuters) – A former senior vice president at Bank of America Corp who became a cooperating witness in the U.S. government’s probe of bid-rigging in the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market avoided prison time or other punishment at his sentencing on Tuesday.

Douglas Campbell, who marketed investment agreements and other municipal financecontracts while working in the bank’s New York office, in 2010 pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to restrain trade, conspiracy and wire fraud.

At a hearing in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood issued a sentence that included no jail time, probation or monetary penalty. She said Campbell deserved leniency for cooperating with federal investigators for more than eight years.

“He helped the government shape the case and led the government to other cooperators,” Wood said.

Campbell, 48, became the seventh person to plead guilty in connection with the antitrust investigation, which has since resulted in numerous convictions and $743 million in settlements with Bank of America, UBS AG, General Electric CoJPMorgan Chase & Coand Wells Fargo & Co.


Government Is Now a Protection Racket for the 1%

Government Is Now a Protection Racket for the 1%

new report shows that top CEOs were paid 331 times more than the average US worker in 2013. At the same time, the poorest fifth of Americans paid an average tax rate of 11 percent while the richest one percent contributed half that rate at state and local levels. In this essay, Bill reflects on the forces that are causing inequality to skyrocket, why it matters and where we’re headed in the future.

Government Is Now a Protection Racket for the 1%

The evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting. According to “Working for the Few,” a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.”

Our now infamous one percent own more than 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of the country is in debt. Just this past Tuesday, the 15th of April — Tax Day — the AFL-CIO reported that last year the chief executive officers of 350 top American corporations were paid 331 times more money than the average US worker. Those executives made an average of $11.7 million dollars compared to the average worker who earned $35,239 dollars.


National Mortgage News on Mortgage Settlement: Paid by investors and incentive for banks

National Mortgage News on Mortgage Settlement: Paid by investors and incentive for banks

(sub req):

The settlement was structured to give banks more incentives to write down principal on loans they owned themselves, with fewer incentives for modifying loans held in securitized trusts. For example, servicers received a dollar of credit for every dollar of principal writedowns on mortgages they owned themselves but 45 cents’ credit for every dollar in reductions on investor loans.

But those incentives apparently were not strong enough for Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM). In a report last week, Goodman (Laurie Goodman, the director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute) wrote that the two banks took advantage of the opportunity to reduce their own losses. Investors paid for $3.7 billion of the relief credited under the settlement to Bank of America and $1.2 billion to JPMorgan Chase.

By contrast, Citigroup (NYSE:C), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Ally Financial’s former Residential Capital unit used a negligible amount of investor loans to earn their credits, providing virtually all of the principal reductions to loans held in their own portfolios.

“Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase were able to gain some settlement credit without taking the loss themselves,” Goodman wrote.

In all, B of A earned 39% of its credits on the backs of investors and JPMorgan Chase earned 29%, Goodman found.

B of A and JPMorgan did not respond immediately to requests to comment. Joseph Smith, the monitor for the settlement, was unavailable for comment, hisoffice said, but in a statement he confirmed that only 76% “of total credited relief under the National Mortgage Settlement was related to loans owned by servicers rather than serviced for other investors” — meaning investors ate the other 24%. 

It can be argued that principal reductions and loan modifications are also in the best interest of investors because the loans become more affordable and resume performing, and the losses tend to be less than those taken when a borrower goes into foreclosure.