Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wall Street Journal On Tenants Being Squeezed By Foreclosures

The Wall Street Journal recently reported:
  • The mortgage mess is claiming a new group of victims: renters. Across the country, a rising number of landlords are falling behind on mortgage payments, sending their properties into foreclosure, according to legal-services attorneys, local officials and financial experts -- and in many cases, their tenants are being forced out of their homes. Often, the tenants' first inkling of trouble occurs when they get a letter from the bank directing them to leave the premises.

For more, see Mortgage Turmoil Hits Renters (Tenants Face Eviction When Their Buildings Go Into Foreclosure).

For other stories on tenants unknowingly renting homes in foreclosure, go here, or here, or here. equity skimming unwittingly delta

Basic Protection Tips Against Contractor Liens For Florida Homeowners

For Florida homeowners looking for some basic tips when dealing with and paying home improvement contractors, as well as protecting against having mechanic's liens filed against your home when your contractor stiffs the subcontractors actually performing the work on your home and material suppliers providing the building material, see:

Ex-Homeowner Lobs Molotov Cocktails At Cops Before Taking His Own Life; Refused To Vacate Home Lost In Foreclosure

In Houston, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports:
  • A 12-hour standoff ended [last week] with a north Houston man lobbing Molotov cocktails at Houston Police before taking his own life rather than vacate a home he'd lost to foreclosure. James Hahn, a chemist, had told police he would not be taken from the home alive, said Capt. Bruce Williams, an HPD spokesman. "'You know what I do for a living and you know what I am capable of,'" said Williams, recalling one of the conversations police had with the man on Wednesday.

  • It would appear that Hahn had prepared for the standoff. He had nailed plywood over windows and doors and stuffed insulation into cracks. A cache of weapons and explosive devices were found in the home, along with a gas mask, chemical suit similar to those worn by Haz-Mat crew members. Williams said it explained why Hahn didn't vacate the house after police shot tear gas into the residence on three separate occasions in the hopes of bringing the standoff to an end. Williams said Hahn was recently divorced, depressed and struggled with financial problems and drug addiction.

For more, see Lengthy standoff ends in Spring with man's suicide (if link expires, try here).

Go here for other posts on foreclosures and suicide.

Go here for other posts on Police stories involving homes in foreclosure. SheriffDeputiesForeclosureAlpha suicide homeowner foreclosure zeta

Connecticut Lawyer Who Admitted Embezzling $700K From Clients Found Dead In Iowa

In Clinton, Connecticut, the New Haven Register reports:
  • Jonathan Hoyt, the once-respected lawyer who vanished in July after embezzling some $700,000 from his clients, has been found dead in a rented room in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, police report. Cedar Rapids police told Clinton police that Hoyt, 59, committed suicide with a combination of nitrous oxide and sleeping pills in the modest room he had rented under the name "Jim Bragg." [...] Hoyt, whose professional and personal life evidently was dissolving in what his son, Christopher, a partner in the Hoyt Law Group office in New York City, called a clinical depression, was last seen in his Clinton offices July 6. The next day, he wrote a letter describing in detail the embezzlement of money from his clients and accepting full and sole responsibility for the crime. Police estimate more than $700,000 was stolen from about eight clients as Hoyt helped himself to money deposited in his attorney’s trust account. One victim apparently was duped into a bogus investment scheme, police said.
For more, see Missing lawyer found dead in Iowa.

Go here or go here for other stories of theft of escrow / trust funds by account holders. sneaky slick escrow agents beta

Friday, November 02, 2007

Metropolitan Grapevine Mortgage Investment Program A "Ponzi Scheme" Says Court; Placed Into Receivership

The Maryland Attorney General issued a press release yesterday announcing the placement of Metropolitan Grapevine, Andrew H. Williams, Jr., and POS DH, LLC into receivership. An excerpt from the press release:

  • Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that POS DH, LLC, Metropolitan Grapevine, LLC, and Andrew H. Williams, Jr., have been placed in receivership, effective Monday, October 29, 2007. After hearing three days of testimony detailing the business activities of the Defendants, the Honorable Thomas P. Smith, Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, issued an order placing the companies into receivership and freezing their assets as well as those of an additional 18 entities that were shown to be affiliated with the Defendants’ business operations.

  • The court determined that over 1,000 people invested approximately $50,000,000 in promissory note and investment contract securities offered and sold by the Defendants, investments that are essentially without value. The court also determined that the Defendants’ businesses generated no significant income and that they are insolvent with liabilities of $200,000,000 to $300,000,000 and current assets of approximately $2,000,000. The court concluded that the Defendants were paying previous investors with funds received from new investors, and that the investment program was, in fact, a Ponzi scheme.

  • This court order now places the financial control of POS DH, LLC, Metropolitan Grapevine, LLC, and Williams, in the hands of the court-appointed receiver,” said Attorney General Gansler. “The receiver will now take all of the assets of the Defendants traceable to this investment scam and create a pool of money to be refunded to the investors and other creditors.”


  • The companies used a variety of business names, including POS Dream Homes, Metro Dream Homes, POS Café, Metro Grapevine, and other names as part of the overall scheme.

For more, see the Maryland AG Press Release - Court Places Laurel-Bsaed Mortgage Payment / Investment Program Into Receivership (Ponzi Scheme Accused of Securities Violations and Investment Fraud).

Go here for other posts & links to other stories on Metropolitan Grapevine / POS Metro Dream Homes.

Another Maryland Foreclosure Rescue Operator Tagged With Lawsuit

From the Office of the Maryland Attorney General:

  • Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that the Consumer Protection Division has filed a complaint in Baltimore City Circuit Court against a group of individuals and companies alleging they violated numerous laws in the course of providing services to homeowners who were facing foreclosure.

  • The complaint names Michael K. Lewis, Earnest Lewis, Cheryl Lynn Brooke, Winston Thomas, and two companies, In the House Technologies based in Upper Marlboro and Cornerstone Title & Escrow based in Laurel. The Division alleges that the defendants market their services to homeowners who are facing foreclosure or are in foreclosure, falsely promising that they can help save the consumers’ homes. Instead of helping homeowners retain title to their homes, the defendants attempt to take title and then strip the equity out of the properties by charging the homeowners numerous undisclosed fees.

  • After the defendants purportedly take the title to the homes, they charge the homeowners rents that are substantially higher than their previous mortgage payments. As a result, the homeowners find it exceedingly difficult to rebuild their credit and save amounts sufficient to retain their homes. The scheme results in homeowners losing both their homes and the vast majority of equity they had accumulated.

  • The complaint seeks to stop the defendants’ unlawful practices and impose fines for violations of the Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act and the Consumer Protection Act. It also was filed to ensure that the original homeowners retain title to their homes and to provide restitution for homeowners who were harmed by the defendants’ actions.

Source: Maryland AG Press Release: Attorney General Files Complaint against Foreclosure Service Providers.


In an article in The Baltimore Sun, the story of one alleged victim of the foreclosure rescue plan is described, in which after the purported rescue, her monthly payments more than doubled, she ultimately defaulted on her payments, and felt compelled to move out because of a foreclosure action pending against one of Michael K. Lewis' straw buyers. The Maryland AG was able to halt the foreclosure, but the alleged victim said she is afraid to move back in. She has put her furniture in storage and is living with her sister.

An excerpt from the story:

  • Michael Lewis said he and [his brother] Earnest were lured into trying to help bail out credit-poor homeowners who were unable to refinance their loans. "This was a good deed gone wrong," Michael Lewis said. Lewis said he runs an office that helps clients straighten out their finances and get started running home-based businesses to boost their income.
For more, see State alleges home aid ruse (Complaint says foreclosure advice victimized owners) (if link expires, give this link a shot) (these links no longer available online).

Editor's Note: All this comes on the heels of federal agents seizing documents, papers and computers from Michael K. Lewis last week in what apparently is a separate investigation of his foreclosure rescue business (see Feds Seize Business Records Of Baltimore-Area Foreclosure Rescue Operator).

See also:


For more on equity stripping scams, generally,see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

OPFM (& Related Entities) Books Finally Opened; More Alleged Ponzi Scheme Victims Revealed

In two separate stories on the recently defunct Pennsylvania mortgage investment program that the Feds have called a Ponzi scheme, Lancaster Online reports:
  • A mortgage brokerage firm that has left more than 800 homeowners and investors on the hook for about $40 million finally opened its books Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Six companies related to Wesley A. Snyder's bankrupt Personal Financial Management Inc. reported assets of nearly $83 million and liabilities of about $122 million in debts. However, forensic accountants will take several days to break down and interpret the voluminous information, U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee Lynn E. Feldman said Thursday. [...] A class-action lawsuit, one of three separate court actions related to the bankruptcies, claims [Wesley A.] Snyder signed customers to "wrap-around" mortgages in which he secretly brokered larger mortgages in their names with outside banks.
Among Snyder's companies invloved in the alleged Ponzi scheme are Image Masters amd OPFM Inc. For more, see OPFM books finally opened (Show $39M deficit).
In another recent story on Lancaster Online:
  • [T]here's another, smaller group of victims, whose numbers were disclosed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents filed Wednesday. That group is the 31 individuals and couples, including three in Lancaster County, who funded $3.5 million in mortgages offered as investments by the company. With Personal Financial Management and its affiliates filing for bankruptcy liquidation, this group could lose every cent.

For more, including other recent developments in the case, see More victims of mortgage scam revealed.

Go here and go here for other posts and links to earlier media reports on the Pennsylvania Ponzi scheme involving Wesley Snyder, OPFM, Image Masters.

Mortgage Lender Refuses To Foreclose On Upstate NY 'Bat House'

In Conklin, New York, the Binghampton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports:
  • No one wants the house at 36 Stillwater Road. Steven Barker, whose name is on the mailbox, walked away from the house two years ago, thinking it was the bank's problem. It was an understandable assumption, considering The First American Corp. started foreclosure proceedings in 2005 and Barker's bankruptcy filing was discharged in March 2006.

  • In September 2006, Broome County Court issued a judgment of foreclosure against Barker. "I wasn't trying to contest that in any way," Barker said. But for reasons unknown to town officials, First American never sold the house following the foreclosure, and the house remains in Barker's name.

  • Now, as the foreclosure hangs in limbo, the town's attorney is trying to sort out who is responsible for the building known to neighbors as the "bat house" for the growing population of winged vermin that now call it home. "This is an unusual occurrence," said Mark S. Gorgos, Conklin's attorney. "Usually you have the (foreclosure) judgment, you have the sale and everybody moves on from there." As long as the property tax bills are paid, the county can't foreclose on it. According to the Broome County Office of Real Property, tax bills are sent to the bank and they are being paid.
For more, see Who owns Conklin's 'bat house'? (Foreclosure in limbo as house decays).

Foreclosure Rescue, Sale Leaseback Deals "An Unregulated Free-For-All" In Great Britain

In Great Britain, The Scotsman reports:
  • DEBT is increasing alarmingly fast and many people are being forced to take drastic measures to get out of their financial straits. Arising from this is the boom in "sale-and-lease-back" schemes, which involve selling your home to a company for less than its market value and then paying rent to continue living there. [While a viable option for some,] the problem is that the sale-and-lease-back market is currently an unregulated free-for-all.

For more, see Calls for FSA to step in and end lease-back 'free-for-all'.

See also, Over-sold, over-rated and over here (American-owned sub-prime mortgage lenders have been funding mortgage rescue schemes in the UK – leaving people homeless when the schemes collapse) (The Telegraph).

For more on equity stripping scams, generally,see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Cash Back" Arrangement Being Used To Purchase Central Florida Condos; Deals Raising Eyebrows Among Local Real Estate Pros

In Sarasota, Florida, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports:
  • As condo owners across the state bemoan a downward slide in values, an unusual situation is taking place at the Bermuda on Osprey condominium complex near downtown Sarasota. A group of Californians -- two of whom were arrested in March on charges of running a brothel in the Anaheim area -- have been snapping up units at prices that are hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than those paid during the boom. The buyers, led by John Edward Couch of San Clemente, say they will convert the 46-unit complex into a senior-living center complete with a luxurious clubhouse, communal dining room and limo service.

Reportedly, the California group has purchased 15 units out of the 46 units in the two-story walk-up building built in 1969 in transactions in which the complex owners claim to have received a little more than half of the stated price, with the balance (ie. the "cash back") being placed in an "amenity fund" controlled by the buyers to be used for future improvements. Representatives of the seller of the units claim that the amenity fund was clearly defined and disclosed to the mortgage lender on the closing statements so that there is nothing improper about the sales.

According to the story:

  • the entire complex was sold in March, 2005 for about $109,000 per unit to a tax felon now awaiting extradition from Italy on money laundering charges connected to a cocaine deal,
  • the complex was then resold nine months later to Warren Hickernell, a condo converter, for about $222,000 per unit, involving a $9.4 million loan from the Bank of Commerce,
  • the Bank of Commerce loan subsequently went into default and was bought out of its interest in the complex by an investor with prior ties to Hickernell,
  • since November, 2006, the California group has purchased 15 units at an average price of about $566,000, with about $300,000 going to the complex owner and about $250,000 or so going into the amenity fund.

Not surprisingly, eyebrows are being raised among Sarasota-area real estate observers. For more, see In Sarasota, an unusual condo deal (Group snapping up units at prices higher than during boom).

Go here for a related story on this California "investor" group.

With One Company Forced Into Bankruptcy, Virginia Real Estate Operator Soliciting Investors For New Venture

In Hampton Roads, Virginia, The Virginian-Pilot reports:
  • Even as he faces questions about millions lost in his company's investment program, CM Development President Cary McEntee is soliciting investors for a new housing business. McEntee has been posting advertisements on online classified sites, ... . The ads are similar to the newspaper listings he used to find investors for CM Development, a housing company that owned or managed more than 250 properties before it collapsed amid allegations that McEntee had failed to pay mortgages, hadn't maintained the properties and had falsified at least one bank loan. Investors forced McEntee and CM Development into bankruptcy in July.
McEntee reportedly used what sounds like a "straw buyer - house flipping" arrangement in financing his last real estate venture; The Virginian-Pilot describes the arrangement as follows:
  • [CM] Development paid investors flat fees to gain access to their credit, and used the money to buy properties in all seven of Hampton Roads' largest cities. It sold the houses repeatedly among investors, taking out bigger loans each time. About three dozen people put their names on loans for the business, with the promise that CM Development would make mortgage payments, collect rents and maintain the houses.
McEntee is reportedly soliciting investors for his new venture, looking to hit them up for $175-200K a pop for a 1 year loan offering 12-13% interest, and is utilizing Craigslist web sites in Norfolk, Richmond, New York, Raleigh, Atlanta and Detroit to communicate his requests for new cash.

To date, there have been no reported criminal charges brought by law enforcement authorities or investigations by Virginia state regulators against McEntee for running potentially improper straw buyer, property flipping arrangements or unregistered promissory note programs. Based on a prior report, equity skimming was also involved in the mess currently in the bankruptcy court as rent was reportedly being collected and pocketed by CM Development without applying those funds to the mortgage payments, real estate taxes or water bills due on the homes titled in the straw buyers' names, thereby allowing homes to go into foreclosure. Many of the units were rented through the federal Section 8 program, which helps pay rent for low-income residents. Also, tenants have complained about their inability to get back their security deposits, according to a prior report.

For more, see Head of failed real estate firm trolling for investors.

For other Virginian-Pilot coverage on CM Development and Cary McEntee, see:
Go here for other posts on CM Development and Cary McEntee.

Cops Looking To Supplement Retirement Benefits Duped Into Real Estate Flipping Scam, Says Lawsuit

In South Bend, Indiana, the South Bend Tribune reports:
  • A local real estate investor and his son, already fighting separate mortgage fraud lawsuits from African immigrants, face a new suit filed by three South Bend police officers and a former officer. The officers, Jack Stilp, James Aters, Kris Hinton and James Turnbo III, say they were looking for investment income to supplement their pensions when they decided to buy rental properties through Michael Sheneman and his son, Jeremie Sheneman, in 2003 and 2004. Instead, two of the men have filed bankruptcy.

  • Months after buying the properties, many in the same blighted neighborhoods the officers patrol on midnight shift, the officers say they learned some alarming things: The properties were worth less than what they had paid for them; the houses were in worse shape than the Shenemans had led them to believe; and the tenants already living in the houses weren't actual tenants, but rather, were paid by Michael Sheneman to pose as good tenants until the transactions were complete, their lawsuit claims.

Reportedly, the officers' lawsuit accuses the Shenemans, their company, and six other individuals of violating Indiana's racketeering law. Attorney Charles Lahey has agreed to represent them on a contingency fee basis, meaning he will only charge them a fee if he recovers damages. Lahey told The Tribune he and a paralegal researched the case for about nine months before filing the suit. For more, see South Bend officers allege mortgage fraud in lawsuit (They say they were conned while trying to supplement their retirement benefits).

For an earlier story describing others who claim to have been scammed by the Shenemans in real estate investments scams, see Mortgage maelstrom (Scheme appears to target African immigrants).

More On Wesley Snyder, Image Masters, OPFM Scandal

For those following the the media reports on the "Equity Slide / Wrap Around Mortgage" investment scandal involving Wesley A. Snyder, Image Masters, OPFM and other entities, below are links to two recent media reports related to the story:

Go here and go here for other posts and links to earlier media reports on the Pennsylvania Ponzi scheme involving Wesley Snyder, OPFM, Image Masters.

Copper Thieves Wreaking Havoc On South Florida Apartment Complexes; Theft Of 28 Backflow Preventers Reported In Last Two Weeks

In Broward County, Florida, WPLG-TV Channel 10 reports:

  • Police in Lauderhill and neighboring Lauderdale Lakes said there have been more than two dozen thefts of devices used to direct the flow of water from city pipes into apartment buildings. A total of 28 backflow preventers have been stolen from apartment complexes during the past two weeks, including eight taken from various apartments in Lauderhill during the night Tuesday. Without the devices, residents are left without water in their buildings. It also causes flooding around the pipe. Police are unsure how the devices are being removed, but they do have a few ideas as to why. "Two theories: One, they could be reselling the preventers for plumbing, maybe new construction or retrofitting, whatever projects they might be working on, but more than likely they're probably selling the metal because they're made of copper," said Lauderhill police Lt. Rick Rocco. The cost to replace the backflow preventers is between $150 and $400.

Source: Thieves Steal Water Devices From Apartments (28 Backflow Preventers Stolen In Past 2 Weeks).

Go here for WPLG-TV Channel 10 video report.

See also:

Go here for other stories on copper theft. copper metal theft zebra

Vacant Homes Make Up One-Third Of "For Sale" Residential Market In Metro Phoenix

In Phoenix, Arizona, The Arizona Republic reports:
  • At least one out of every three homes for sale across metropolitan Phoenix is empty, and owners are motivated to cut prices to sell. Many empty houses are owned by investors who can't find renters and need to sell. Others are owned by people who moved to other houses in the Valley or elsewhere and can't afford two mortgages. Some empty homes for sale are new houses that home builders are offering deals on. And a growing number of vacant houses are owned by lenders that foreclosed on the properties and want to cut their losses by selling them quickly and often cheaply. About 36 percent of the Valley homes posted on the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service are empty. That's almost 20,000 of the record 55,000 houses for sale now.

(Hopefully, the copper thieves and the squatters don't catch wind of all these vacant houses.)

For more, see Of Valley homes for sale, a third sit empty (20,000 vacant homes pushing prices lower).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Homeowner Who Never Missed A Payment Threatened With Foreclosure; Another Mortgage Lender Screw-Up (Forced-Placed Insurance) To Blame

In a letter to The Miami Herald Action Line, a homeowner writes:
  • Even though we've never missed -- or been late with -- a payment on our $78,000 mortgage, my wife and I are being threatened with default and foreclosure.
    The loan holder, EverHome, in Jacksonville, isn't telling us why; it simply says we owe $1,695.33. As best we can tell, EverHome is claiming that the money is owed for an escrow account. In August, it refused our September payment and, instead, sent us a default notice. Although we've called and sent it certified mail, it isn't responding. [...] If we can't sort this mess out, we could lose our home. Can Action Line assist us?

Action Line's response:

  • We can; your home is safe. We asked EverHome to investigate; within a couple of hours of our e-mailing it, someone from its head office called you. ''EverHome is still working through the details,'' spokeswoman Kari Scott said via e-mail a few days later. EverHome had to go back to Crown Bank to figure things out.

  • What it learned is that Crown Bank had forced-placed you with a flood insurance company. You never paid the premium because, first, Crown Bank never told you about it, and second, you don't live in a flood zone and had declined such insurance when you took out the loan. (Even if you had requested the insurance, it should have cost a fraction of $1,600.) When EverHome assumed the loan, it also assumed the nonexistent debt. In the end, it took EverHome less than two weeks to sort out what never should have happened in the first place.
Source: Mortgage payments never late, but foreclosure still looms (if link expires, try here).

Scammer Gets 13 Years In Credit Card Scam; Civil Suit & Criminal Investigation In Unrelated Alleged Foreclosure Rescue Scam Continues

The St. Petersburg Times reports:
  • Peter J. Porcelli, who made a fortune with direct mail and telemarketing and took his Tampa Bay Smokers fast-pitch softball team to two world championships, was sentenced to 13 years in prison Monday for his part in a credit card scam that victimized tens of thousands of credit-poor consumers nationwide. Porcelli, 55, of Oldsmar [, Florida] was also ordered by a federal judge in East St. Louis, Ill., to pay restitution of $11,886,317. [...] The government sought a sentence of at least 15 years, 8 months, but Porcelli was given leniency for his cooperation with a federal grand jury investigation into his lending operation in the Tampa Bay area and for his testimony against executives who ran part of the credit card fraud in Utah and Nevada.


  • Investigators are now looking at another possible credit scam that targeted down-on-their-luck consumers. U.S. postal inspectors and the Florida Department of Financial Services are investigating a nonprofit group called Safe Harbour Foundation and a mortgage company called Silverstone Lending that Porcelli operated out of the same Clearwater office. The nonprofit sought out desperate homeowners facing foreclosure and referred them to Silverstone for high-risk, short-term loans that appear to violate state laws.

  • Two weeks ago, a group of homeowners who say they were victimized by the predatory lending operation filed a $40-million federal lawsuit against Porcelli, his companies and associates, claiming they were duped by the nonprofit's misrepresentations into signing for bailout loans with illegal fees and interest rates as high as 500 percent.

For more, see Judge sends $12-million message (That's the restitution an Oldsmar man must pay for a credit scam, plus 13 years in prison).

Go here for other posts on Peter Porcelli.

Oakland Investors Return Foreclosed Home To Parkinson's Disabled Homeowner

In Oakland, California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
  • An Oakland home lost in a foreclosure auction this month is being returned to the family that bought the house 15 years ago. The lender who foreclosed on the home and the investors who bought it said they will give back the house because they were moved by the homeowner's plight as reported in The Chronicle and by the reaction of more than 200 Chronicle readers. Hong Zhang Lin, 44, who is disabled from Parkinson's disease and speaks only Chinese, was up to date with his primary mortgage but evidently fell behind on a $135 monthly payment for a $20,000 home equity loan. Countrywide Financial, the lender on both loans, sold the Fruitvale district bungalow at a foreclosure auction earlier this month. Lin, who owed only $94,000 on a home worth $500,000, was faced with losing his equity as well as his home.

  • Lin's family said he had not realized he was behind on his loan payments, did not know about the foreclosure and was shocked when he received an eviction order from the new owners - the only Chinese-language notice he received about the sale. Countrywide said it had followed standard procedures of calling and sending letters about the missed payments and foreclosure sale. On Tuesday, Countrywide and the foreclosure investors who bought the house said they will unwind the sale, returning the house to the Lin family. They said pressure from the media - and Chronicle readers who responded online to an article Saturday about the situation - helped inspire the solution.

Reportedly, after reviewing the media coverage in The Chronicle and on KGO-TV, the investors who bought the home at foreclosure decided to return the house for the $190,300 they had paid plus expenses and a small profit. Countrywide will refund the companies' money and pay for the expenses and profit. For more, see Foreclosed Oakland home returned to family.

For the original San Francisco Chronicle story, see Face of foreclosure crisis - Chinese-speaking Parkinson's sufferer.

Housing Authority Forcing Doctor To Sell Home; Her "Affluence" Violates Deed Restrictions

In Aspen, Colorado, The Aspen Times reports:
  • An Aspen doctor will appeal a recent court order to move out and sell her Ritz-Carlton Club affordable housing unit, her attorney said [last week]. The appeal comes after [a recent] decision by 9th Judicial District Judge Daniel Petre, who ruled in favor of plaintiff Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. The ruling states that Dr. Amanda Tucker must sell her deed-restricted unit by Nov. 9. The Housing Authority sued Tucker in March 2006 in Pitkin County District Court, claiming that she didn’t meet the criteria to own the cut-rate housing. All the while, Tucker has continued to live at the townhouse, which she bought for $179,000 at a foreclosure auction in 2005.
The deed restrictions for the affordable housing unit bought by the doctor puts a $91,000 cap on yearly earnings for owners with two dependents. Additionally, their net assets cannot exceed $150,000. For more, see Doc fights to keep housing unit (Appeal expected in eviction case).

County Trust Fund Established To Fight Mortgage Fraud, Despite DA's Claim That Local Mortgage Fraud Is Non-Existent

In Bakersfield, California, CBS 29 / FOX 58 reports:
  • Concerned that the continuing rise of foreclosures in Kern County could be fraud related, [the County Board of] Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution establishing a trust fund to investigate and prosecute real estate fraud. The plan calls for imposing a $2 fee on certain public real estate filingswith the County Recorder's office. It is expected it would raise between $230,000 and $280,000 a year.

A mortgage fraud battle in Kern County appears to be currently fought, not by local law enforcement against the bad guys, but by State Senator Dean Florez and local real estate appraiser Gary Crabtree (who say that local mortgage fraud is running rampant) against Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels (who believes local mortgage fraud is practically non-existent). While Jagels is reported to be in favor of establishing the trust fund from which money can be drawn as fraud cases are investigated and filed, he recently expressed his position against forming a specialized real estate fraud-fighting unit within his office, reportedly saying "There is nothing more poisonous to morale [among prosecutors] than having what is in effect a grant-funded unit with nothing to do." For more, see County creates trust fund to crack down on real estate fraud.

Go here for other posts on this story.

Cleveland-Area Cops Welcome Training In Mortgage Fraud Investigations

Buried in a recent article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer was this blurb on local law enforcement receiving training in mortgage fraud investigations:
  • Mortgage fraud and related crimes have run rampant in the Cleveland area and fed the region's foreclosure mess. Federal, state and local investigators have launched a host of joint investigations. Solon [, Ohio] police, who have become schooled in the subject, are checking into as many as 50 possible cases, said Lt. Christopher Viland, head of the detective bureau.

  • Other police departments are still getting up to speed, so the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office and state attorney general's office conducted a seminar for officers, city prosecutors and other officials Friday at the Main Library in Cleveland.

  • Shaker Heights Police Chief Walter Ugrinic welcomes the task force's help. "This is a new world for police," Ugrinic said as he left the seminar. "If we are really going to go after these, we need people who are trained to spot that stuff."

Source: Solon builder leaving construction business due to mortgage fraud connections (Admits similar schemes involving 38 properties).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Alleged Bangladeshi Scam Artist Cons Countrymen

In New York City, The New York Times reports on how a Bangladeshi immigrant operating a Jackson Heights, Queens mortgage company allegedly scammed his fellow countrymen, many of whom on financially unstable footing, in real estate investment and mortgage scams. Milton was recently arraigned in Queens on several counts, including identity theft, scheming to defraud and grand larceny involving at least four people. Prosecutors also charged Nira Niru, another Bangladeshi immigrant, with helping Mr. Milton in his activities, at the Jackson Heights mortgage office. An excerpt from the story:
  • Since the initial complaint against Mr. Milton and Ms. Niru, about 30 people, most of them Bangladeshi, have come forward to accuse Mr. Milton of defrauding them, according to Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney. Prosecutors say that they are not surprised and that the case underscores an all-too-common trend, of immigrants who prey on their own. “I think it is indeed prevalent,” Mr. Brown said. “I think it’s a case of the victims trusting individuals who share the same backgrounds and the same ethnicity as they do. These are people that they feel comfortable with.” [...] The latest prosecution follows two other cases in which people from Bangladesh have been accused by prosecutors in Queens of stealing from their countrymen, for whom Jackson Heights, with its many Bangladeshi stores and restaurants, is a cultural center.

For more, see Bangladeshis in Queens Say Their Trust in a Countryman Cost Them.

Go here for other posts on Jacob Milton.

Metropolitan Grapevine Now $300M In Debt, Operated Pyramid Scheme, Says Maryland Judge

The Free Lance-Star reports:
  • Investors hoping Metropolitan Grapevine would soon resume paying their mortgages had those hopes crushed yesterday. A Prince Georges County judge said the company, which has an office in Spotsylvania County, was operating a pyramid scheme and is $300 million in debt. In his opinion, Circuit Judge Thomas P. Smith also said that Metropolitan Grapevine President Andrew Williams, his company and a subsidiary, POS Dream Homes LLC, both of which are based in Laurel, Md., were operating an unregistered promissory-note investment program under the guise of a mortgage payment plan.

For more, see Little hope for Dream Homes' buyers (Metropolitan Grapevine was running a pyramid scheme, according to a Maryland judge).

Go here for other posts & links to other stories on Metropolitan Grapevine / POS Metro Dream Homes.

South Florida Feds Charge Trio In Straw Buyer Mortgage Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, Florida announced last week that Hugo Rodriguez, 52, Ronald Gordan Lichte, 65, Connie Marie Cullifer, 58, and John C. Kelly, 67 were charged for their alleged participation in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud conspiracy. Defendant Rodriguez is a Miami real estate investor; Lichte (licensed mortgage broker), Cullifer (Lichte's loan processor), and Kelly (a straw buyer) are all from Tampa. According to a press release:
  • According to the charges, the defendants were involved in a scheme in which Rodriguez would locate luxury condominiums and residential properties that were available for purchase. Rodriguez and Lichte would then recruit and pay straw buyers, including defendant Kelly, to use their names, credit histories, and signatures on mortgage loan documents to obtain financing to purchase the properties. Rodriguez, Lichte and Cullifer would then prepare fraudulent mortgage loan applications for the straw buyers. [...] The applications also included HUD-1 settlement statements that falsely stated the straw buyers were using their own money to cover the closings. In fact, however, the straw buyers were not using their own funds to cover the closing.

For more, see U.S. Attorney's Press Release.

See also, Local investor charged in mortgage fraud (South Florida Business Journal).

Cleveland-Area Builder Cops Plea In Mortgage Fraud; Admits Participation In Scam Involving 38 Homes; Agrees To Leave Construction Business

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
  • A Solon builder who has been tied to mortgage fraud has agreed to get out of the construction business as part of his punishment. Edward Emery Jr. pleaded guilty Thursday to submitting a false loan application for a woman who bought a $490,000 home on Sedge Circle in Solon that he built. Emery also admitted to similar schemes involving 37 homes that he built in Solon and Glenwillow.

  • Eloise Anderson of Richmond Heights pleaded guilty to using bogus job and income information to buy the Solon house, two houses in Cleveland and another house in Pepper Pike -- closing more than $1.3 million in deals over a five-month span in 2005. Emery was not connected to Anderson's other homes, Assistant Prosecutor Michael Jackson said. [...] She planned to quickly dispose of the homes under rent-to-own deals, Jackson said.

A title company owner, a mortgage broker and two officials from another mortgage company also face charges in the case. For more, see Solon builder leaving construction business due to mortgage fraud connections (Admits similar schemes involving 38 properties).

Atlanta Man Gets 15+ Years In Federal Pen; Bilked Lenders Out Of $15M

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that Jeffery Alan Teague, also known as Jeffrey Allen Bryant, was sentenced Oct. 26 in an Atlanta, Georgia Federal Court to 15 years and eight months in jail and was ordered to pay $7.8 million in restitution for his role in two builder-based mortgage fraud schemes that bilked lenders out of $15 million. According to the story:
  • From 1999 to 2001, [Teague], using the name Jeffrey Alan Bryant and operating as the builder/seller Quantum Builders and Premium Property Management, defrauded mortgage lenders by obtaining more than $10 million in loans to buy non-existent and incomplete houses in Rockdale County from Bryant/Quantum Builders. The loans were obtained in the names of unqualified straw borrowers, using fraudulent appraisals with photographs of completed houses and false Certificates of Occupancy provided by Teague. After investigators found out about the scheme, Teague moved to Maryland.

  • Teague returned to Atlanta in 2006, using the name "Jeffery Alan Teague" and The Pacific Group Inc. doing business as Value Homes Ltd., and again began to arrange mortgage loans for the purchase of incomplete houses, this time in Forsyth County. Teague secured the loans from Teague/Value Homes in the names of California, New York, and Florida "investors" by providing false Certificates of Occupancy stating the houses securing the loans were "completed to code" and "suitable for occupancy," supported by fraudulent appraisals containing photographs of completed houses. Later in 2006, Teague also collected "investor" money for property he did not own in subdivisions in Fayette and Fulton counties.

For more, see Teague gets jail time for mortgage fraud.

Go here for U.S. Attorney Press Release - Teague Sentenced To Federal Prison For Sale Of Non-Existent/Partial Houses In Two Counties.

New Form Of 'Foreclosure Stripping' Scam Rearing Its Head?

KGET-TV Channel 17 in Bakersfield, California reports:

  • There's a new problem with real estate foreclosures as some residents have resorted to stripping everything from appliances to door-knobs from foreclosed homes before the houses go back to the bank.

  • A neighbor said she took digital pictures on Labor Day of a male trio backing up a red truck into the home's driveway and securing a $4600-Viking stove to a flatbed trailer. [T]he lender took [the home] back two days after the pictures were taken. [...] The agent now trying to sell the home said more than $20,000 in property has been taken.

For more, see Taking everything but the kitchen sink from foreclosed homes.

Go here to view the KGET-TV Channel 17 video report.

For a story update, see No criminal charges in case of stolen appliances (Last week, 17 News told you about a police crime report filed regarding appliances taken from a home once owned by Crisp and Cole real estate agent Jeriel Salinas. Police have since determined it was a civil matter and will not be pursuing criminal charges. The current real estate listing agent said a $4,600-Viking stove was taken from the home, along with a microwave and dishwasher.).


For a story on a homeowner in foreclosure being criminally charged for "endangering a security interest" for removing appliances, cabinets, lighting fixtures, door knobs and other items with an estimated value of more than $25,000 from a foreclosed house, see Homeowner In Foreclosure Charged For Trashing House Days Before Public Auction (the foreclosing mortgage lender held a security interest in the stolen items, according to the arrest warrant application).

Editor's Note: Assuming a home mortgage contains a standard "assignment of rent" provision, a mortgage lender likewise holds a security interest in any rent that may be collected from a tenant and pocketed by a landlord in foreclosure. A landlord pocketing rent in this manner without applying the money to the mortgage loan (ie. equity skimming or rent skimming) could potentially be also subject to criminal charges for theft of a security interest.

Go here for other posts on foreclosure fixture stripping. foreclosure fixture stripping apple David Crisp

Florida Bar Expresses Concern About Increases In Title Closing Attorney Involvement In Mortgage Fraud

In Miami, Florida, the South Florida Daily Business Review reports:
  • The Florida Bar has joined the fight against mortgage fraud in South Florida. “There’s no doubt there are more instances of title attorneys being involved in mortgage fraud,” said William Mulligan, Bar counsel for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. “Those frequently are situations where they have a title company or have a nonlawyer working for them doing the closings.”

For more, see Mortgage Fraud (Bar confronts an expanding crisis).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Feds Seize Business Records Of Baltimore-Area Foreclosure Rescue Operator

In Baltimore, Maryland, WBAL-TV Channel 11 reports:

  • The WBAL TV 11 News I-Team has learned that state and federal investigators have seized property of a Maryland man who claims he can help reduce your debt. Michael K. Lewis advertises on television, and he said in his ads that his mission is to help people get you out of financial debt. But he's currently under investigation, and one of his former network members said that she recruited others but quit because she didn't make any money. Court records show that federal agents seized documents, papers and computers from Lewis last week. Lewis was accused of illegally filing bankruptcies for clients -- an accusation he denies.

  • In July, 11 News aired a story about Claretta Taylor and her fight to keep her home. She said she called Lewis after seeing his TV ad, and she got on his MKL financial diet that includes paying bills on time and monitoring spending. To stay out of foreclosure, Taylor said she agreed to sell her Baltimore city home to Lewis' brother, Earnest. Lewis told her that in a year, when her cash flow improved, she was to buy back the house. That didn't happen.
For more, see Feds Seize Alleged Shoddy Businessman's Belongings (Former Network Member Says She Made No Money).

Go here to view WBAL-TV Channel 11 video report (link no longer available).

Go here for other posts on Michael. K. Lewis.

For more on equity stripping scams, generally, see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

More On Foreclosures Forcing Tenants From Homes; Section 8 Tenant Rights Being Violated

Recent stories on the problems facing tenants as a result of their landlords being foreclosed on:

Minnesota - Minneapolis Star Tribune - Wave of foreclosures hits renters (When landlords face foreclosures, tenants often lose their housing. Rights and leases can extend for months after a sale, but many families are scrambling and some are finding themselves homeless).

Massachusetts - Boston Herald - Foreclosures hit tenants (Activists: New owners trample on renters’ rights). Activists are warning about “cash for keys” and other schemes designed to trick Section 8 subsidized housing tenants into moving out of homes recently sold at foreclosure auctions. Under federal law, Section 8 tenants with proper leases can’t be immediately tossed out of their units because of a change in ownership, experts say. “Federal laws trump state laws, so (Section 8 tenants) can stay,” said Rafael Mares, an attorney at Harvard Law School’s WilmerHale Legal Services, which is helping tenants during the current foreclosure crisis. Even if a tenant’s Section 8 lease has expired, federal law requires that property owners must prove they’re being economically harmed by having a tenant remain in a building, said Mares.

For other stories on tenants unknowingly renting homes in foreclosure, go here, or here, or here. equity skimming unwittingly delta harvard legal aid bureau

Minnesota Builder Reportedly Stiffing Subs; At Least 4 Have Six-Figure Claims Against Parish Marketing

(original post 10-28-07)
Part of the fallout of the collapse of Twin Cities-area homebuilder Parish Marketing and Development, owned by Michael Parish, is the devastating effect it is having on the subcontractors who did work for Parish who are owed significant sums, but are now in the process of being royally stiffed by the builder. Up until now, media articles have reported that homebuyers purchasing vacant Parish homes under land contract and "rent to own" arrangements have been stiffed in that Parish reportedly pocketed all their money without applying any of it to the mortgages on the homes they were purchasing.

Now, according to a recent story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, at least four contractors are owed six-figure sums for construction work they did for Parish and the chances of recovery of even some part of the amounts owed are not good. Excerpts from the story:
  • The Parish case, one of a string of mortgage-fraud schemes surfacing across the Twin Cities area and the nation, highlights the extent of much damage a single builder can create. For example, [Brian] Jones [owner of North Oak Enterprises Inc. of Wyoming, Minn., an interior trimming contractor], who says he's owed $45,000, expects to lay off his three employees next month -- his first layoff in 17 years of business. And Kyle Elfering, the owner of a small framing business in Stacy, Minn., said he's already laid off half his workforce since Parish stopped building. He's seeking $230,000 in back pay from Parish.

  • [Brad] Alness [owner of Phase Electric in Bloomington] said it will take years to recover the $298,000 in unpaid bills from Parish. "That represents more than all of our profits for the entire year," he said. "It's huge." Twice this past year, builders have failed to pay Pamela Jewison, co-owner of Allied Excavating, for work on area homes. Her unpaid bills: $155,000. Her complaints to the Minnesota attorney general's office have been unanswered, she said. "We're talking about people's lives here," she said. "There are people out there who won't be able to survive this."

  • Several contractors said they were lured by promises of steady work as other builders were scaling back. In just four years, Parish built 125 homes at "Prague Estates," a project in New Prague. Most of those homes are in foreclosure, according to Le Sueur County officials. Brian Jones, the trimming contractor, recalls a meeting last year with [Parish son-in-law, Christopher] Troup. "He said, 'I'll have 100 houses a year for you guys to do,'" Jones said. "In this market, that was salvation."

  • At least four contractors said Parish owes them six-figure sums. Minnesota Concrete Structures said in a recent lawsuit that Parish failed to pay it $692,484.65.
For more, see Parish collapse leaves contractors stuck with unpaid expenses (It may take years for some contractors to recover from the state's largest case of mortgage fraud).

Go here for other posts on Minnesota homebuilder Parish Marketing and Development.

Massachusetts AG Takes Action On Foreclosures

Earlier this summer, Attorney General Martha Coakley unveiled a multi-faceted plan to tackle the foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, homeowners facing foreclosure often find themselves in a vulnerable position and may become targets for foreclosure rescue schemes and dishonest lenders. The Attorney General's plan includes steps to stop foreclosure rescue schemes, stop deceptive mortgage practices, and provide assistance to residents facing foreclosure.

Go here for links to recently issued regulations targeting foreclosure rescue operators (940 CMR 25.00: Foreclosure Rescue Transactions and Foreclosure-Related Services) and to the new regulations targeting brokers & lenders (940 CMR 8.00: Mortgage Brokers and Mortgage Lenders).

Go here for Pro Bono Foreclosure Assistance Hotline.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Maryland’s System For Home Foreclosures Tramples Due Process, Argues Appeal

From Public Citizen Litigation Group, the litigating arm of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen:

  • Maryland resident Joyce Griffin lost her house in a foreclosure sale because she never received notice until it was too late for her to save her home. Her case is a stunning example of how predatory subprime lenders, high-volume foreclosure mills, and a hands-off legal system can combine to wreak havoc on people's lives.

  • Griffin's mortgage company, the now-defunct Ameriquest, tricked her into refinancing the home she owned, when, after her fiancé died, she'd simply wanted to have his name taken off the mortgage. When the single mother could no longer make the increased mortgage payments, a "foreclosure mill" law firm representing Ameriquest quickly began foreclosure proceedings. After they made a bare-bones and unsuccessful effort to notify her of any pending action, Griffin lost her home when it was literally auctioned off on the courthouse steps. She never learned that her home had been sold until the new owner tacked a note on her door.

  • Griffin immediately hired a lawyer to block the sale, arguing that the notice procedures violated her constitutional right to due process, but the court upheld the lender's actions. Public Citizen and Baltimore-based Civil Justice Inc. are appealing that decision. We argue that the 2006 decision in Jones v. Flowers — a case that Public Citizen argued in the U.S. Supreme Court — means that additional reasonable steps must be taken to notify a property owner if a foreclosure notice is returned as unclaimed by the post office. But the lawyers who conducted the foreclosure of Ms. Griffin's house say they can ignore undelivered letters and do not have to make any effort to follow-up before selling someone's house.

  • If Griffin had been a defendant in a small-claims case, a property tax foreclosure, a federal tax foreclosure, or even a tenant in an eviction proceeding, the law would have required that the documents be served in person, sent via restricted certified mail (complete only upon delivery) or be posted by mail-and-nail notification in which the mailed documents are also posted directly on a dwelling's door. Even in a routine debt collection action, Ameriquest's mishandling of Griffin's case would have violated her constitutional rights. The Constitution demands more when someone's home is at stake.
Source: Description Of Pending Case in Griffin v. Bierman, et al. in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

In a separate press release, Public Citizen attorney Deepak Gupta noted:

  • People are waking up to the reality of predatory subprime mortgages, but what they may not yet realize is the one-two punch of shifty loans and shiftier foreclosure firms that can knock them right out of their homes.
For the entire press release, see Homeowners Facing Mortgage Foreclosures Denied Constitutional Right to Proper Notification.

To view the appellate brief in this case filed last week on behalf of the homeowner, see Brief - Griffin v. Bierman, et al.

Representing the homeowner in this case are: Deepak Gupta, Micahel T. Kirkpatrick, and Brian Wolfman, with Public Citizen Litigation Group (Washington, DC); Phillip Robinson, with Civil Justice Inc. (Baltimore, MD); and Scott Borison, with Legg Law Firm, LLC (Frederick, MD).

For background information on this story from The Washington Post (12-21-07), see The Pain of Foreclosure (For Joyce Griffin and Thousands of Others Who Face Losing Their Homes, Sadness and Uncertainty Overshadow a Season of Cheer).

Go here and go here for other posts on foreclosures involving faulty notifications to property owners. foreclosure faulty notice

OPFM, Image Masters Collapse Claims Victims All Over Eastern Pennsylvania

For those following the Wesley A. Snyder, OPFM, Image Masters mortgage investment scandal, there is a another story on it today in the Allentown Morning Call. An excerpt from the story:
  • The devastation in the wake of the collapse of the company and five affiliated businesses is being documented all across eastern Pennsylvania. The majority of the borrowers are from Berks and Lancaster counties, but dozens also live in Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, Carbon and Schuylkill counties.
For more, see Valley borrowers caught in Berks firms' bankruptcy (Collapse left some with mortgage payments 70 percent higher).

Go here and go here for other posts and links to earlier media reports on the Pennsylvania Ponzi scheme involving Wesley Snyder, OPFM, Image Masters.

Non-English Speaking Parkinson's Sufferer Loses Home In Foreclosure Of $20K Home Equity Loan

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
  • Hong Zhang Lin lost his home in Oakland's Fruitvale District in a foreclosure auction this month. The 44-year-old former construction worker, who is disabled by Parkinson's disease, can barely believe it. He's not a subprime borrower, he has a huge amount of equity in the home, and he has made all his mortgage payments on time. The four-bedroom house, which Lin and his two brothers bought in 1992, is worth about $500,000; he only owes $94,000 on the mortgage. But he evidently stopped making the $135 monthly payments on a $20,000 home-equity loan. The loan was with the bank division of Countrywide Financial, the same lender that carries his primary mortgage (Editor's Note: Lin was current on his primary mortgage). Countrywide initiated foreclosure proceedings and sold the house to investors for a bargain price of $190,300 at an Oct. 2 auction on the Alameda County Courthouse steps.

For more, see Face of foreclosure crisis - Chinese-speaking Parkinson's sufferer.

For story, see Foreclosed Oakland home returned to family.

Editor's Note: The problem here may be, in large part, due to the apparently miserable notice requirements that exist in California in connection with foreclosing mortgage lenders' obligation to provide notification to homeowners of pending foreclosures. The foreclosure notification requirements in the state of Maryland, a state with arguably the most homeowner hostile foreclosure process in the country, are currently in the process of being challenged in a Maryland appeals court by the Public Citizen Litigation Group, as being in contravention of a policy set forth by a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that dealt with the constitutionality of notification requirements in foreclosures sales (see Due Process Being Trampled By Maryland’s Home Foreclosure System, Argues Appeal). Given the situation that happened in this story with the Parkinson's disabled homeowner (and given that no "red flag" went up at Countrywide, which held both mortgages on the home - one of which was current), maybe someone should make an assessment of the constitutionality of the California foreclosure notice requirements, which would allow a case like this to happen.

Some Central Florida Pet Shelters "Bulging At The Seams" From Foreclosures

In Central Florida, the Charlotte Sun-Herald reports:
  • A little known part of the fallout from the record pace of foreclosures of homes has been the impact on pet owners. "For the last two months, we've received an unprecedented number of telephone requests and e-mails from people pleading for us to take their dogs and cats," said Elise M. Matthes, president of Sarasota in Defense of Animals. "It is heart-wrenching. Most of those who contact us are losing their homes and moving into rentals, where pets are prohibited. They are severely distraught people because there is no "no-kill" shelter or sanctuary in the county that will take pets," Matthes said. "Most area shelters are bulging at the seams with excess dogs and cats."

For more, see Pets becoming mortgage foreclosure victims.

Go here for more on pets and foreclosures.

Another Judge In Hot Water

In Broward County, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:
  • The Judicial Qualifications Commission filed formal misconduct charges against Broward County Judge Terri-Ann Miller on Wednesday accusing her of misleading voters to think that she was an incumbent judge when she successfully ran for election last year. The commission accused Miller, in documents filed Wednesday, of distributing campaign materials "calculated" to wrongly imply she was a sitting Broward judge when she was not. Her campaign material included a photo of her wearing a judicial robe and using words that implied she was the incumbent, the commission charged. [...] The state watchdog agency said Miller "made a continuing deliberate effort to misrepresent your qualifications for office ... which cumulative misconduct constitutes a pattern and practice unbecoming a candidate for and lacking the dignity appropriate to judicial office, with the effect of bringing the judiciary into disrepute."

For more, see Broward judge accused of misconduct.

Go here to view Notice of formal charges against Judge Terri-Ann Miller.

For a quick summary on some of the problems Broward County, Florida judges seem to have avoiding perceptions of impropriety, see the Postscript after the post, Egregious Conduct By South Florida City In Violation Of State Homestead Exemption Laws Threatens Loss Of Home.

Go here for other posts on naughty judges. naughty judges