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2008 Legal Memo at BKR Conference
Cautions Banks and Lawyers Against Lying About Ownership
A legal compendium of cases published by the American Bankruptcy Institute establishes a pattern of conduct by Ameriquest, Wells Fargo and Chase dating back before 2008 in which these and other banks have intentionally misrepresented themselves to the court as owners of the note, entitled to foreclose and seeking to lift the automatic stay in bankruptcy court under “color of title” arguments. The link to the entire article is below.
What I see is not just wrongful conduct in court but a continuous pattern of lying, fabricating, forging and cheating that has left millions of homeowners without possession of their rightful homes. The ONLY REMEDY in my opinion is to restore these homes to the bankruptcy estate and that the debtor’s be allowed to assert claims attacking the supposed mortgage liens that were based upon false identification of the lender, false and predatory figures used in borrowing and servicing and a large shroud thrown over the entire fictitious securitization process as a place to hide an illegal scheme to issue multiple securities in which the borrower was the issuer of the promissory note under false pretenses and the REMIC was carefully constructed to issue bogus mortgage bonds.
In both cases, the issuer and the investor were dealing with participants in the securitization chain who had no intention of allowing them to keep or recover their investment. In both cases, the instrument was a security that did NOT fall under the exemptions previously used to protect the banks. The borrower as issuer was induced to enter into a securities transaction in which he purchased a loan product under the false assumption created and promoted by the Banks that the real estate market never went down and would always go up, thus allaying the borrowers’ fear that the loan was not affordable. In fact that loan was not affordable and would violate the affordability guidelines in TILA and RESPA if it was classified as a residential mortgage loan. The REMIC that issued the bonds did so without any assets, and even though the disclosure was in the prospectus buried in parts where one would not be looking for that risk, that fact alone removes the REMIC issuance as a REMIC under the Internal Revenue Code, and removes the issuance of the mortgage bond from the cover of exemption under the 1998 Act.
We have all seen Wells Fargo, BOA, Chase, US Bank, Ameriquest and others banged repeatedly fro misrepresenting themselves in court as the owner of the loan when in fact they were not the owner of the loan, never loaned the money to begin with and never purchased the loan obligation from anyone because no money exchanged hands. Even if they tried, the only party who could sell or release claims to the receivable from the “borrower” (issuer) would have been the partnership or individuals or as a group pooled their money into leaky, fictitious entities created for the express purpose of deceiving the pension funds and other investors.
The bottom line is that when it suits them (when they want the property, in addition to the unearned insurance payments, proceeds of credit default swaps and proceeds from other credit enhancements and federal bailouts) these banks assert falsely that they are the creditor, claiming the losses that trigger payments to them rather than the investor. When it does not suit them, like when they abandon the property, or are subject to imposition of fees, sanctions or fines or attorney fees, then they finally fess up and state that they are not the owner of the loan in order to avoid paying appropriate costs, fines, fees, penalties and fees.
Here are some of the notable quotes from the piece written by Catherine V Eastwood, Esq., of Partridge, Snow and Hahn, LLP. At some point the lawyers must be subjected to the same sanctions knowing in the public domain that these practices exist as a pattern of conduct. see Consumer_Sept_2008_NE08_Messing_Mortgages_Cases
QUOTES FROM ARTICLE:
Make Sure Your Pleading Contains Accurate Information Regarding The Identity Of The Real Party In Interest
[AMERIQUEST FINED $250,000, LAW FIRM FINED $25,000, WELLS FARGO FINED $250,000 FOR A TOTAL OF $525,000] On April 25, 2008, Judge Rosenthal issued an memorandum of decision regarding an order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed in the matter of Nosek v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company, 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 1251 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2008). Ameriquest had maintained throughout a prior adversary proceeding and bankruptcy case that it was the “holder” of the note and mortgage. When the debtor filed a second adversary proceeding requesting trustee process from two Chapter 13 Trustees to collect payment on the judgment issued in the prior case, Ameriquest argued that it was merely the servicer of the loans and that it was not the owner of the funds sought to be collected. The court noted that Ameriquest and its attorneys had made misrepresentations to the court throughout the prior proceedings regarding its status as noteholder. Wells Fargo, NA as Trustee for Amresco Residential Securities Corp. Mortgage Loan Trust, Series 1998-2 was the real holder of the note. The Court issued a Notice to Show Cause why sanctions should not be imposed
Make Sure Your Pleading Contains Accurate Financial Information or Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011 May Be Imposed: Judge Bohm asked counsel why a motion from relief from stay was being withdrawn. The lawyer’s answer resulted in the judge issuing two show cause orders in In re Parsley, 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 593 (Bankr. S.D. Texas 2008). The real answer should have been that the motion for relief was filed in error on account of an erroneous payment history. Unfortunately, counsel misrepresented to the court that it was a “good motion” and that set off an explosion, leading to evidence of other misrepresentations…. Testimony also revealed that the payment histories were prepared by paralegals and were not reviewed by any attorneys. Countrywide did not review the loan histories either. No one was catching the errors under this system. Judge Bohm wrote “what kind of culture condones its lawyers lying to the court and then retreating to the office hoping that the Court will forget about the whole matter.”
[$75,000 Sanction against Law Firm] In an earlier matter, also in the Southern District of Texas, the Court sanctioned a law firm in the amount of $75,000 for filing an objection to plan and subsequent withdrawal of the objection that was deemed to be “gibberish.” In re Allen, 2007 Bankr. LEXIS 2063 (Bankr. S.D. Texas 2007). It was clear to the Court that the pleadings were not being reviewed by an attorney after being generated by a computer as the objection listed reasons that were completely unrelated or blatantly opposite of the contents of the Chapter 13 plan filed by the debtor.
[Chase required to pay legal fees of debtor] On April 10, 2008, Judge Morris, a bankruptcy court judge for the Southern District of New York, issued a decision in the case of In re Schuessler, 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 1000 (Bankr. S.D. NY. 2008) regarding an order to show cause why Chase Home Finance, LLC should not be sanctioned for submitting pleadings that were misleading and that had no factual support.
Standing Challenges: Make Sure The Company Bringing The Action Has The Legal Right To Do So
[RELIEF FROM STAY DENIED RETROACTIVELY ON DEBTOR'S MOTION] In re Schwartz, 366 BR 265 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2007) that parties who do not hold the note or mortgage and who do not service the mortgage do not have standing to pursue motions for relief or other actions arising out of the mortgage obligation. In Schwartz the creditor was seeking relief to pursue an eviction action following a foreclosure sale. The assignment of mortgage into the foreclosing mortgagee was executed four days after the foreclosure sale took place. The Court stated that while the term “mortgagee”, as used in M.G.L. c. 244 §1, “has been defined to include assignees of a mortgage, there is nothing to suggest that one who expects to receive the mortgage by assignment may undertake any foreclosure activity.” Id. at 269. The motion for relief was denied.
While not a bankruptcy court case, a United States District Court case worthy of inclusion in this section is In re Foreclosure Cases, 2007 WL 3232430 (N.D. Ohio 2007). The District Court issued an order covering numerous foreclosure cases that were pending in the state. The creditor was ordered by the Court to produce evidence that the named plaintiff was the holder and owner of the note and mortgage as of the date the foreclosure complaint was filed. The court dismissed the foreclosure complaints when the lenders were unable to produce the assignments.
How Many Times Can A Lender Continue a Foreclosure Sale?
In re Soderman, 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 384 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2008). In Soderman the court recited the “one-time” postponement blessing in order to seek relief from stay but that repeated continuances may be a violation of the automatic stay. The repeated continuances will be deemed a violation of the stay if the postponements are made in order to harass the debtor, gain an advantage for the creditor or renew the financial strain that led the debtor to file for bankruptcy protection. Id. One month after the decision in Soderman was released, Judge Hillman also ruled that repeated continuances of a foreclosure sale was a violation of the automatic stay. In re Lynn-Weaver, 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 1101 (Bankr. D. Mass 2008).
Challenging the Assessment of Mortgage Fees to a Loan and the United States Trustee’s Office’s Investigation of Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
In an unprecedented move, Judge Agresti of the Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Court, in April 2008, approved the Justice Department’s further investigation of Countrywide due to widespread allegations that the lender is filing false or inaccurate claims, misapplying funds, assessing unreasonable fees to borrowers’ accounts or ignoring the discharge injunction and other court orders. Countrywide Homes Loans, Inc. f/k/a Countrywide Funding Corp., 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 1023 (Bankr. W.D. PA. 2008).
This matter was precipitated by a Standing Chapter 13 Trustee in Pennsylvania originally filing for sanctions against Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. due to her experience with the lender
The Pennsylvania matters have led the United States Trustee’s Office to file similar suits in Georgia1 and Ohio2 seeking to investigate the servicing practices of Countrywide. Various subpoenas have also been served by the United States Trustee’s office upon Countrywide in Florida regarding the assessment of fees on borrower’s accounts.
1 The United States Trustee’s Office filed a complaint on February 28, 2008 styled as Walton v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.,08-06092-mhm in the Northern District of Georgia. The related bankruptcy case is In re Atchley, 05- 79232-mhm. In Atchley, the homeowners eventually sold their home to avoid foreclosure but believe the payoff amount cited by Countrywide contained excessive fees and that Countrywide continued to accept trustee payments after the loan paid off.
2 The United States Trustee’s Office filed a complaint on February 28, 2008 styled as Fokkena v. Countrywide Homes Loans, Inc., 08-05031-mss in the Northern District of Ohio. The related bankruptcy case is In re O’Neal, 07- 51027. In O’Neal, Countrywide filed a proof of claim and objection to plan when it had already accepted a short sale on the property prior to the bankruptcy filing.
ALL LENDERS ARE FAIR GAME
[Forensic Audits Suggested --- $10,000 damages, $12,350 Legal Fees, Wells Fargo sanctioned $5000] in the matter of In re Dorothy Stewart Chase, Docket 07-11113, Chapter 13 (Bankr. E.D. LA 2008), Judge Magner issued a 49 page decision on April 10, 2008 which ordered Wells Fargo to audit every proof of claim it filed in the district since April 13, 2007 and to provide a complete loan history on every account. If the audits reveal additional concerns, the judge reserved the right to appoint experts to do forensic accountings at the expense of Wells Fargo. She also ruled that Wells Fargo was negligent in the loan servicing of Ms. Chase’s loan and assessed damages of $10,000, legal fees of $12,350 and sanctioned Wells Fargo $5,000 for filing a consent order that did not reflect the agreement of the parties and for filing erroneous proofs of claim.
[Wells sanctioned $67,202.45] The decision in Chase was on the heels of Judge Magner’s earlier decision in In re Jones, 2007 Bankr. LEXIS 2984 (Bankr. E.D. LA. 2007). In Jones, Judge Magner sanctioned Wells Fargo $67,202.45 for violating the order of confirmation and the automatic stay by improperly assessing the debtor’s loan with fees in the amount of $16,852.01 and diverting payments made by the Chapter 13 trustee and the Debtor to satisfy fees that had not been authorized by the Court. The judge stated that the Jones case would provide guidance in the post-petition administration of home mortgage loans to a degree that, until this decision issued, had been lacking in the industry.
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