Daily Archives: January 9, 2013

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Class action: JP Morgan accused of foreclosing on homes without owning the notes and mortgages

Class action: JP Morgan accused of foreclosing on homes without owning the notes and mortgages

CLEVELAND – JP Morgan Chase forecloses on homes without owning the underlying notes and mortgages, a class action claims in Cuyahoga County Court.

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Lesbian Couple Alleges Bank Of America Discriminated Based On Sexual Orientation

Lesbian Couple Alleges Bank Of America Discriminated Based On Sexual Orientation

In the early spring of 2012, Patty Snyder and her partner Shelley (who asked to use only her first name) went house hunting in South Daytona, Fla. They found their dream location: A four-bedroom home with a new roof, a back porch and a fenced-in yard where they could help take care of their nieces and nephews. Better yet was the price: It was only $89,000.

To buy the house, Snyder applied for the $90,000 loan with Bank of America and used Shelley’s mother — whom she calls her mother-in-law — as a co-signer. For most loans, mortgage co-signers do not need to be related to the buyer, leading the couple to believe there would be no problem in getting approved. Shelley was not on the loan as she was unemployed at the time.

But the day before the couple was scheduled to close, the bank denied the loan, saying the relationship between Snyder and Shelley’s mother was not approved, according to Snyder. “I was furious,” Snyder told The Huffington Post in a phone call. “All along, [the loan officer] told us there were no issues to the loan … they told us to schedule the closing.”

Snyder and Shelley felt the case was clear discrimination by Bank of America because they are a same-sex couple, and they sent their case to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The government’s housing watchdog agency took up their case as evidence of a violation of new anti-discrimination laws, and — unbeknownst to the couple — came to its first enforcement decision against Bank of America. Under a new rule enacted by HUD last year, lenders cannot use sexual orientation as criteria for loan eligibility.

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UBS fires eighteen over Libor-rigging scandal

UBS fires eighteen over Libor-rigging scandal

he scale of dismissals was revealed by the chief executive of the bank’s investment arm, Andrea Orcel, as he insisted to a sceptical Banking Standards Commission he was “recovering the honour” of the shamed institution.

Mr Orcel, who was grilled by the commission alongside chief risk officer Philip Lofts and global head of compliance Andrew Williams on the practice of Libor-rigging at the bank, maintained the scandal stemmed from a small subset of traders, and top management was unaware.

“I believe a limited number of people are responsible for what happened at UBS,” he said.

“People were appalled, upset and angry that their reputation was dragged down by the actions of others.”

The trio of top executives said the 18 sackings were of traders found guilty of “reprehensible behaviour” who were still employees of the bank when the scandal broke, but did not put a figure at how many of the 40 culpable staff identified by the FSA remained at the bank.

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Dimon’s Leaves N.Y. Fed Board of Directors; No Successor Named

Dimon’s Leaves N.Y. Fed Board of Directors; No Successor Named

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has left the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, more than six months after lawmakers called for his resignation because of JPMorgan’s multibillion-dollar trading scandal.

Dimon departed when his term expired Dec. 31, a New York Fed spokeswoman said. Its board members customarily step down after serving a maximum of two three-year terms, as Dimon did, she said.

The New York Fed’s nominating committee still has to recommend Dimon’s replacement, she said. No deadline has been set.

Dimon was one of three Class A directors, who are elected by member banks to represent their interests. The board’s other six directors represent the public.

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MARSHALL WATSON FORECLOSURE MILL SHUT DOWN AFTER GUILTY PLEA AND CONSENT TO JUDGMENT, CHANGES NAME TO CHOICE LEGAL GROUP

MARSHALL WATSON FORECLOSURE MILL SHUT DOWN AFTER GUILTY PLEA AND CONSENT TO JUDGMENT, CHANGES NAME TO CHOICE LEGAL GROUP

Cross posted from the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen

The foreclosure mill, Law Firm of Marshall Watson, has been shut down after the owner, Marshall Watson, pled guilty to unlawful and unethical practices at his firm.   It appears that the firm hopes to have a smooth transition to a new law office, Choice Legal, headed by Marshall Watson’s brother, John Watson.  In 2010, John Watson, apparently playing both sides of the crisis, in more than one instance represented a property owner against the very same financial institution that he also represented, in at least some capacity, in other foreclosure cases.

In March 2011, Marshall Watson paid two million dollars to settle a Florida Attorney General investigation into questionable foreclosure practices and suspicious document execution policies.  However, that settlementdidn’t clean up Watson’s practices enough to fend off a new set of accusations by the Florida Bar.  The Bar has just released a 12-page guilty plea for consent judgment with Marshall Watson.  This is the Florida Bar’s third regulatory action against  foreclosure mill owners.

At the time of the settlement with the Florida AG, Marshall C. Watson, president and chief executive of firm, said in a statement that he was “pleased” with the settlement. “With our firm’s tight controls now in place we are setting a high bar for the mortgage law provider industry, and our clients recognize and value the positive steps we are taking.”  One of those “positive steps”, a brilliant PR move, was to hire the Broward County Chief Judge Victor Tobin, who resigned from the bench on June 30, 2011 and started his employment at Marshall Watson’s foreclosure factory one day later.  Questions remain over when Tobin negotiated his employment terms and if the questionable career change violated the edict that sitting judges must avoid the appearance of impropriety.  Tobin who, once held the highest Broward County judgeship, set court policies for all cases including foreclosures as well as adjudicating foreclosure cases himself when the court was short staffed.  Now, less than two years later, despite Watson’s “tight controls” and the hiring of Tobin, the Florida Bar has extracted a guilty plea from Watson for failing to develop foreclosure policies in line with the rules of professional ethics for Florida attorneys and also for routinely filing documents in Florida courts that were illegally executed and/or notarized.  Kim Miller who broke this story in the Palm Beach Post wrote, “Charges against Watson in the Bar’s 12-page ‘conditional guilty plea for consent judgment’ include that an attorney contracted by the firm was paid $1 each for signing approximately 150,000 fee affidavits.”  According to the Consent Judgement and guilty plea, an undetermined number of affidavits in order to secure fees were signed outside the presence of a notary public and then later notarized, a clear violation of the law, and in numerous instances, an attorney was given only the signature page of an affidavit to sign.  Affidavits require the signer to swear under oath that they have personal knowledge of what the facts stated therein.  However, that’s not possible if the signer doesn’t even see what the text of what he or she is signing!

Besides the Office of the Florida Attorney General and the Florida Bar, a Florida lawmaker has voiced serious concerns about Marshall Watson’s foreclosure mill.  In October 2011, Senator Darren Soto, former Florida state representative (D-49) and newly elected to the Florida state senate (D-14), called for a formal investigation, possibly criminal related, Marshall Watson’s possible violations of the settlement agreement with the Florida Attorney General.

There was at least one additional investigation into Marshall Watson’s practices.  Former Monroe County state attorney Dennis Ward opened an investigation into Marshall Watson’s mill, focusing on a Watson attorney,Patricia Arango, whose apparent signature appears on thousands of legal documents, some clearly improper, filed in official records across the state. At the time the investigation was covered in the media, Ward stated, his  “ultimate concern is protecting the integrity of the legal system and land title records.”

The Bar has been slow to act against rampant crimes related to the prosecution of foreclosure cases but there are two previous Florida Bar regulatory actions against a disgraced former foreclosure mill owner, David J Stern, whose now defunct firm went down in flames in 2011 after widespread media stories exposed illegal and unethical practices at his mill.  Nevertheless, Stern remains a lawyer in good standing with the Florida Bar despite numerous citizen complaints filed over the past decade in addition to the Bar’s own 2002 and 2011 complaints.  The Bar also issued a detailed ethics opinion on January 11, 2011 explaining a process to be implemented by foreclosure mill attorneys who have knowledge of illegal and unethical practices in specificforeclosure cases by their bank clients.

Shapiro, Fishman, Gauche was exposed for submitting documents to Florida courts that bore the signature of an attorney who had left the firm months prior.  The attorney herself was outraged when she discovered that her signature was being used on Shapiro, Fishman, Gache’s legal filings. Previously, in 2010, a judge wrote in an order dismissing a foreclosure case, “The Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that WAMU, Chase, and Shapiro & Fishman committed fraud on this Court.”

Ben Ezra Katz was another, now defunct, foreclosure mill that self-imploded after it’s owner, Marc Ben Ezra admitted to “execution issues” in foreclosure proceedings.  Marc Ben-Ezra remains a lawyer in good standing with the Florida Bar.   Interestingly, Florida Default Law Group, now Ron Wolfe and Associates, and Smith Hiatt Diaz, now SHD Legal, have both changed their foreclosure mill firm names recently.

After the foreclosure fraud story broke in the national media, the Office of the Inspector General for the FHFA, the regulator for Freddie and Fannie, audited Freddie and Fannie’s oversight of their foreclosure attorney network.  On September 30, 2011, the Inspector General issued a report concluding that Fannie Mae and its regulators—including FHFA—had been alerted repeatedly as early as 2003 to serious problems with the legal firms in the retained attorney network (RAN), but failed to take corrective action.  The Inspector General also reported that “FHFA did not begin to act on foreclosure abuse issues involving Fannie Mae’s RAN until mid-2010,” despite “multiple indicators of foreclosure abuse risk prior to 2010 that could have led FHFA to identify and act earlier on the issue.”

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Welcome to Congress

Welcome to Congress

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/call-time-congressional-fundraising_n_2427291.html

Foreclosure settlement with investment banks could be coming

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS) and two other banks may agree as soon as this week to settle claims over botched foreclosures in an accord similar to one reached with 10 other loan servicers, two people briefed on the discussions said.

The agreement, also involving HSBC Holdings Inc. (HBC) and Ally Financial Inc. (ALLY), would end case-by-case reviews of foreclosures under earlier accords with the biggest mortgage servicers, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The Federal Reserve-led discussions specified at least $1.5 billion in cash and assistance for borrowers, one of the people said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-08/goldman-sachs-said-to-be-part-of-fed-led-foreclosure-settlement.html