Attorney Linda Tirelli Defines Robo-Signing for Clueless Steven Mnuchin

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/attorney-linda-tirelli-defines-robo-signing-for-clueless_us_59824797e4b0396a95c8747e

It seemed like the Treasury Secretary doth protest a bit too much as a Shakespearean drama unfolded at a July 27th meeting of the House Financial Services Subcommittee . Steven Mnuchin, like some wayward damsel in distress, took deep umbrage at Representative Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) suggestion that he was anything but an honest, ethical banker; albeit one who headed up the hyper-controversial OneWest Bank.

The ghosts of banking’s past seemed to surface with a vengeance when the term “robo-signing” — a foreclosure short-cut liberally used by OneWest — was hurled his way by the Congressman. This, in turn, proved too much for the normally passive Treasury boss who decided, like Network’s, Howard Beale, he was angry, really angry and wasn’t going to take it any more.

In prickly fashion he loaded up his blunderbuss and unloaded some lead balls Ellison’s way:

Do you even know what Robo-signing is?

The die was cast and the stage set for a few minute’s worth of parrying, ducking and sparring. Ellison, citing the documented work of OneWest robosigner Erica Johnson-Seck in helping to expedite the foreclosure process, was met by Mnuchin’s spiteful refusal to accept this truth.

Earlier on, and without any prompting from the committee, the Treasury Secretary had also surfaced a bit of Hamlet-style guilt; offering this pronouncement:

I take great offense to anybody who calls me the foreclosure king,

His anger towards Ellison was so palpable that Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) asked the Treasury Secretary to apologize.

Mnuchin refused to back down; instead, donning a Crown of Thorns, he portrayed himself as an innocent being lead to the slaughter.

I’m not apologizing to anybody because robo-signing is not a legal term and I was being harassed

This got me thinking: why not test the veracity of the Treasury Secretary’s statement by running it by an old acquaintance, Linda Tirelli, a bankruptcy attorney in White Plains, N.Y., who knows a great deal about the subject. In a 2012 post for American Banker I referenced her keen sense for sniffing out fraudulent foreclosure documents.

In my opinion — and in this realm — she ranks as a lawyer of Wonder Woman stature.

Seeing this as a teachable moment Tirelli graciously offered to respond directly to the Treasury Secretary:

Secretary Munchin: I do know what robo-signing is and while you don’t think it’s a “legal” term all you need to do is enter the term “robo-signer“ into a search engine and, lo and behold, discover it’s a widely used and accepted term found in legal documents, deposition transcripts, and judicial opinions throughout the country.

I’ve spent the last ten years of my legal career calling out the systemic fraud that is robo-signing; a practice that’s been adopted as a “business as usual model” by the largest financial institutions in our country.

Just for fun, Secretary Munchin, please Google “Linda Tirelli robo signer” and you’ll find no less than eight hundred and forty hits highlighting my work as a consumer advocate exposing the fraud that is robo-signing and document fabrication.

Next: Google “Steven Mnuchin robo signer” and you’ll come up with nearly the same number of results; essentially, pointing out your rationalizing the practice.

Some background: falsified documents are routinely robo-signed by low-income wage earners trying to make ends meet. In depositions (I dare you to ask me for transcripts) they freely admit that they aren’t the person whose name is on the document, be it the VP of CitiBank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo,Chase or any other financial institution, Many admit to signing or notarizing hundreds of documents per day.

In one case involving Bank of America I discovered three robo-signed documents purporting to assign a homeowners note and mortgage and it was signed by the same person, David Perez, on the same day, in front of the same notary; with the signatory claiming to be a Vice-President with authority to sign as an agent for three different banks. In fact — not mentioned in any of these assignments — was he was working for just one bank: the aforementioned Bank of America.

Linda Tirelli
David Perez, GFI Mortgage Bankers, Inc.

Linda Tirelli
David Perez, Weichert Financial Services

Linda Tirelli
David Perez, Countrywide Bank, NA

I was also instrumental in uncovering the Wells Fargo Attorney Foreclosure manual. Have you read it Secretary Mnuchin? I’ve got twelve different editions if you’re interested and only one has been made public. It isn’t very long but it reads like a blueprint for fraud. There’s no provision in this manual that allows Wells Fargo lawyers to admit any wrong-doing no matter how legally defective they find the documentation to be. The manual simply white washes any notion that Wells Fargo may not have the right to enforce a mortgage lien or foreclose on a property.

I no longer count how many cases I see involving fraud against unsuspecting homeowners. Just to remind myself that a fraudulent document I’m reading is just that I went on-line and for $9.99 bought my own rubber stamp (with a red-ink pad).

What does it say? “WTF!” in big letters.

Now, before you dismiss me as a fanatic Hillary supporter, let me disabuse you of that notion. I don’t wear pussy-hat caps nor Birkenstocks and I don’t scarf down granola. I’m not a bleeding heart liberal. I’m a well educated lawyer and successful business owner who is also a registered Republican and Trump supporter. I call it like I see it and as I see it the Mega-Banks and servicers sold out and gave up any semblance of integrity. They went down the very wrong path of lies and deception and, in the process, wreaked havoc with Main Street. As a hard working conservative, I come from a place where I acknowledge a problem when I see it, and do whatever I can to fix it.

Secretary Mnuchin: pull your head out of the sand and admit the problem of robo-signing exists and persists. Stand up to those who want to give the financial services industry a free pass — like former AG, Eric Holder — allowing them to buy their way out of jail with some “settlement money.” As recent history demonstrates, that does nothing to fix the problem.

I encourage you to take a stand and hold the corporate blood sucking thieves accountable. I’m not a proponent of over-regulation because I believe it does hurt smaller local banks and credit unions. However, I do want the sleazy predatory Mega-Banks — the ones that continue to engage in practices like robo-signing — to be held accountable and, for Pete’s sake, let’s stop trying to emasculate the one Federal agency that is the consumer’s watch-dog: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

As far as taking offense at being called a “Foreclosure King?” Grow up. Your July 27th appearance before the House Financial Services Committee made you look like a pompous jerk.

Wipe the smirk off your face, roll up your sleeves and go do something to restore Main Street’s confidence in our financial institutions.

If you need further input and suggestions I might be able to find some time in my schedule.

Joel Sucher, along with Steven Fischler, is a founder of Pacific Street Films (note: check out the new website) and has written for a number of platforms including American Banker, In These Times, HuffPost and Observer. com. Sucher is currently working on a memoir, An Outsider’s Guide to Inside Goldman Sachs.

U.S. Starts Criminal Probe of Lender Processing Services Inc. Foreclosure-Data Provider

The case follows on the dismissal of numerous foreclosure cases in which judges across the U.S. have found that the materials banks had submitted to support their claims were wrong. Faulty bank paperwork has been an issue in foreclosure proceedings since the housing crisis took hold a few years ago. It is often difficult to pin down who the real owner of a mortgage is, thanks to the complexity of the mortgage market.

the majority of foreclosures go unchallenged, some homeowners have won the right to keep their homes by proving the bank couldn’t show, on paper, that it owned the mortgage.

[LPS a/k/a DOCX] produces documents needed by banks to prove they own the mortgages. LPS’s annual report said that the processes under review have been “terminated,” and that the company has expressed its willingness to cooperate. Ms. Kersch declined to comment further on the probe.

Editor’s Note: The executive branch is finally becoming involved. The foreclosure mills have been producing dubious and/or fraudulent, fabricated, forged documentation for 3 years or more. Some of these foreclosure mills are operating in the same office and owned by the law firms prosecuting foreclosures. Maybe sooner than later these unethical, illegal practices will stop and the people responsible will be prosecuted for criminal violations, civil fines, and administrative grievances in which their licenses will be revoked.

But in the end we still have millions of homes whose title is at least clouded, probably defective and will soon become unmarketable as title companies realize the issues presented by fraudulent foreclosures by entities other than the creditor.

Wall Street Journal

April 3, 2010

U.S. Probes Foreclosure-Data Provider

Lender Processing Services Unit Draws Inquiry Over the Steps That Led to Faulty Bank Paperwork

By AMIR EFRATI and CARRICK MOLLENKAMP

A subsidiary of a company that is a top provider of the documentation used by banks in the foreclosure process is under investigation by federal prosecutors.

The prosecutors are “reviewing the business processes” of the subsidiary of Lender Processing Services Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., according to the company’s annual securities filing released in February. People familiar with the matter say the probe is criminal in nature.

Michelle Kersch, an LPS spokeswoman, said the subsidiary being investigated is Docx LLC. Docx processes and sometimes produces documents needed by banks to prove they own the mortgages. LPS’s annual report said that the processes under review have been “terminated,” and that the company has expressed its willingness to cooperate. Ms. Kersch declined to comment further on the probe.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the middle district of Florida, which the annual report says is handling the matter, declined to comment.

The case follows on the dismissal of numerous foreclosure cases in which judges across the U.S. have found that the materials banks had submitted to support their claims were wrong. Faulty bank paperwork has been an issue in foreclosure proceedings since the housing crisis took hold a few years ago. It is often difficult to pin down who the real owner of a mortgage is, thanks to the complexity of the mortgage market.

During the housing boom, mortgages were originated by lenders, quickly sold to Wall Street firms that bundled them into debt pools and then sold to investors as securities. The loans were supposed to change hands but the documents and contracts between borrowers and lenders often weren’t altered to show changes in ownership, judges have ruled.

Related Documents

Documents processed by LPS that said an entity called “Bogus Assignee” owned the mortgage:

That has made it hard for banks, which act on behalf of mortgage-securities investors in most foreclosure cases, to prove they own the loans in some instances.

LPS has said its software is used by banks to track the majority of U.S. residential mortgages from the time they are originated until the debt is satisfied or a borrower defaults. When a borrower defaults and a bank needs to foreclose, LPS helps process paperwork the bank uses in court.

LPS was recently referenced in a bankruptcy case involving Sylvia Nuer, a Bronx, N.Y., homeowner who had filed for protection from creditors in 2008.

Diana Adams, a U.S. government lawyer who monitors bankruptcy courts, argued in a brief filed earlier this year in the Nuer case that an LPS employee signed a document that wrongly said J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. had owned Ms. Nuer’s loan.

Documents related to the loan were “patently false or misleading,” according to Ms. Adams’s court papers. J.P. Morgan Chase, which has withdrawn its request to foreclose, declined to comment.

Linda Tirelli, a lawyer for Ms. Nuer, declined to comment directly on the case.

Ms. Kersch said LPS didn’t actually create the document and that the company’s “sole connection to this case is that our technology and services were utilized by J.P. Morgan Chase and its counsel.”

While the majority of foreclosures go unchallenged, some homeowners have won the right to keep their homes by proving the bank couldn’t show, on paper, that it owned the mortgage.

Some lawyers representing homeowners have claimed that banks routinely file erroneous paperwork showing they have a right to foreclose when they don’t.

Firms that process the paperwork are either “producing so many documents per day that nobody is reviewing anything, even to make sure they have the names right, or you’ve got some massive software problem,” said O. Max Gardner, a consumer-bankruptcy attorney in Shelby N.C., who has defended clients against foreclosure actions.

The wave of foreclosures and housing crisis appears to have helped LPS. According to the annual securities filing, foreclosure-related revenue was $1.1 billion last year compared with $473 million in 2007.

LPS has acknowledged problems in its paperwork. In its annual securities filing, in which it disclosed the federal probe, the company said it had found “an error” in how Docx handled notarization of some documents. Docx also has processed documents used in courts that incorrectly claimed an entity called “Bogus Assignee” was the owner of the loan, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Ms. Kersch said the “bogus” phrase was used as a placeholder. “Unfortunately, on a few occasions, the document was inadvertently recorded before the field was updated,” she said.

Write to Amir Efrati at amir.efrati@wsj.com and Carrick Mollenkamp at carrick.mollenkamp@wsj.com

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