Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reports Of Rent Gouging Due To Southern California Wildfires

In Southern California, The San Diego Union Tribune reported about two weeks ago:
  • North County real estate agent Christine Richards described the race to find rentals in areas hit by wildfires as “a feeding frenzy.” “On Wednesday and Thursday, I probably had 60 phone calls,” said Richards, who handles rentals. “You see a lot people raising rents, unfortunately. The prices jump up a couple of thousand dollars in houses that don't rent for that much. If someone requested me to do that, I would cancel the listing.”


  • [The San Diego County Apartment Association] posted a notice at warning landlords that raising rents by more than 10 percent during a declaration of emergency is a crime punishable by a $10,000 fine and/or up to a year in jail. The rent restriction remains in effect for 30 days.

For more, see Rental hunt 'a feeding frenzy' (It might be hard to find places near burn areas).

Maryland Legislator No Stranger To Foreclosure Rescue Suits reports:
  • While his fellow delegates were in Annapolis Tuesday to work on the state's budgetary woes, Del. Tony McConkey made the trek downtown for another reason: The Severna Park Republican is being sued. Reginald D. Williams of Crofton reopened a 2005 lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that Mr. McConkey - who buys and sells homes in foreclosure - violated a previous court order and stole more than $12,500 from the sale of Williams' home. [...] Mr. Williams and his ex-wife, Deborah Ann Williams, first sued Mr. McConkey in July 2005, saying the delegate scammed them out of their house, according to court documents. The case was settled in January 2006 when Mr. McConkey agreed to sell the house, pay off the mortgage and pay Mr. and Mrs. Williams $12,516 each. But Mr. Williams, who originally hoped to keep the entire house, claims Mr. McConkey never sent him his $12,500 check.


Teresa Milligan, another disgruntled client, filed a lawsuit against Mr. McConkey in October 2006, also claiming the delegate tricked her out of her Pasadena townhouse. A year later, the lawsuit is still pending. Michael Gregg Morin, Ms. Milligan's attorney, said in court papers that Mr. McConkey has been involved in "years of effort" in "perfecting various schemes." He claimed the delegate approaches "susceptible and vulnerable consumers" and that he never told Ms. Milligan she was signing over her house.

For more, see Delegate faces suit (Former client says he was swindled out of $12,500) (link no longer available online).

For more on Tony McConkey, see:

  • Suit Against Maryland Delegate Reopened (WBAL Radio AM-1090 - 11-1-07) (link no longer available online),
  • Maryland Legislator Accused of Fraud ( - 12-1-06),
  • Delegate accused of fraud (The Examiner - 10-25-06),
  • Let Me Work For You, Specializing In Problem Properties - 17 Homes Saved From Foreclosure In 05 (link no longer available online).

See also, Maryland State Legislator Sued For Alleged "Foreclosure Rescue" Scam; Police Investigation Ongoing.

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.).

Oregon Jury Convicts Real Estate Con Artist On 28 Felony Counts

In Multnomah County, Oregon, The Oregonian reports:
  • After nearly 11 days of listening to Corey Jerry Pritchett talk about his innocence -- sometimes for hours at a time -- a Multnomah County jury Thursday found the Gresham pastor guilty of 28 felony counts of swindling low-income people out of an estimated $43,000. Pritchett, 44, represented himself as a successful real-estate investor who would use his clients' money to flip houses, promising 30 percent returns. Or he sold or rented them houses he didn't own. In one case, he sold two people the same house on the same day. Lisa Heinemann, 44, a single mother of five who was about to lose her Southeast Portland house in a foreclosure, testified that Pritchett took $1,000 from her.


  • Many of the victims encountered Pritchett through Craigslist, newspaper ads or by chance. Special prosecutors Simon Whang and Jason Weber said Pritchett told his victims he was a pastor and prayed with them. But investigators found earlier this year that his congregation had dwindled to his immediate family. While wooing clients, he failed to mention that he had filed for bankruptcy five times, had at least 40 civil judgments against him, and owed a few hundred thousand dollars, according to prosecutors.

For more, see Jurors find swindler guilty of 28 felonies (Flipping houses - Corey Jerry Pritchett promised 30 percent returns on real estate) (no longer available online).

Disgraced Florida Attorney / Ex-Sheriff To Fork Over $46K To IRS

The St. Petersburg Times reports:
  • Broward County's former sheriff has agreed to pay about $46,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service, federal court records show. The payments stem from Ken Jenne's guilty plea in September to tax evasion and wire fraud conspiracy for accepting thousands of dollars in hidden payments and favors while sheriff. Jenne resigned in disgrace on Sept. 4 after a nine-year tenure as sheriff.

Jenne, 60, also a former Florida state senator and a former partner at the high powered, Fort Lauderdale law firm formerly known as Conrad, Scherer & Jenne, is currently awaiting his scheduled Nov. 16 sentencing. He is looking at 18 to 24 months in prison. For more, see Former sheriff to pay $46,000 to IRS.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Story Updates On Alleged Florida Escrow Funds Theft, Pennsylvania Mortgage Investment Ponzi Scheme

Alleged Eastern Pennsylvania Ponzi scheme involving Wesley Snyder, OPFM, Inc., Image Masters:
  • A hearing scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg concerning the personal assets of bankrupt mortgage broker Wesley Snyder was delayed. For more, see Hearing for OPFM founder delayed (Lancaster Online - 11-9-07),
  • Broker’s assets frozen indefinitely (Lancaster Online - 11-9-07),
  • 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.

Alleged theft of escrow funds (estimated at approximately $4M) by Vero Beach, Florida attorney Ira C. Hatch and his now-defunct escrow company, Coastal Escrow Services:

Washington State Homeowner Sues To Void A "Charles Head-Orchestrated" Foreclosure Rescue Sale Leaseback

Andrews Publications reports:
  • A victim of a mortgage fraud scheme is asking a Washington state court to declare that title to her home was not transferred to Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. in a foreclosure action. Seattle homeowner Phyllis Reynolds wants the King County Superior Court to declare that the defendant bank's title to her home is void.

  • Reynolds sued Deutsche Bank, its agent Northwest Trustee Services Inc. and escrow company First American Title Insurance Co. after learning that the loan she took out to refinance her mortgage was fraudulent. The suit also names as defendants Donald and Linda Theriault, a married couple whose identities were allegedly stolen and used by con artist Charles Head to defraud Reynolds. Head is not named in the lawsuit.


  • Reynolds says that since she was not a Deutsche Bank customer and was the victim of a scam, the bank's title to her home is void and the foreclosure conducted by Northwest Trustee Services is a nullity. Reynolds also says any transfer of the title to the Theriaults is void as well. She seeks a declaration that title to the property belongs to her. Reynolds is also seeking unspecified damages from First American on the grounds that the company breached its fiduciary duty when serving as the escrow agent during the fraudulent loan closing.

Charles Head entities that are allegedly involved in this case are Funding Foreclosures (aka FundingForeclosures), Nations Property Management, and A-One Investment Management Inc. For more, see Woman Sues to Keep Home After Mortgage Scam.

Case Filing Information: Reynolds v. Theriault et al., No. 07-2-29304-3, complaint filed (Wash. Sup. Ct., King County Sept. 6, 2007).

Go here for other posts on foreclosure rescue operator Charles Head, Head Financial, and related companies.

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.).

Equity Stripper Ordered To Return Deed To Home To New Jersey Resident; Status Of Existing Mortgages Up In The Air

In Ocean County, New Jersey, the Asbury Park Press reports on a local homeowner who found herself unwittingly signing away her home in another bogus Charles Head-orchestrated sale leaseback deal:
  • Marie Citarella said she never wanted to sell her house. But land records show Citarella signed a "warranty deed" to Michael and Deanne Mattice of Colorado Springs, Colo., transferring the property for nothing, and thus paying no real estate transfer taxes. The Mattices, in turn, took out two mortgages on the property for a total of $204,250, according to documents. Neither the Mattices or their attorney could be reached for comment. However, a letter to Citarella from the Mattices' attorney said the couple was working with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento, Calif.,which is leading the investigation, and expressed the couple's intention to return the property to her.

Citarella said that Charles Head, a principal in FundingForeclosure (aka Funding Foreclosure), attempted to evict her in June 2007, but an attorney representing Head dropped the case after reviewing Citarella's paperwork. The attorney said he no longer represents Head or his companies and declined to comment further.

The home went into foreclosure, and while the local judge in Toms River, New Jersey ordered the Mattices to reconvey the title to the home to Citarella, it appears that the foreclosure action is continuing, though the judge did give Citarella a 30 day stay. For more, see Defrauded woman fights to stay in house she didn't intend to sell.

Go here for other posts on foreclosure rescue operator Charles Head.

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.).

Financially Strapped Orlando-Area Homeowner Unwittingly Signs Over Deed To Home In Sale Leaseback, Rescue Deal

In Orlando, Florida, a story by the Orlando Sentinel that came out in June reported on another Charles Head sale leaseback deal gone bad:
  • If you're not careful, homeowner Arthur Washington warned Wednesday, your house may be the next to go. [...] Washington, 59, said he was surprised how easily he was persuaded to give up the title to his home. When he and his elderly mother moved here from Massachusetts, Washington said, he wanted the kind of house often showcased in glossy magazines. But when his mother spotted the coffee-colored three-bedroom house on Montague Place in Pine Hills, she fell in love. The pair bought the home in 2003. Then the 2004 hurricanes hit, bringing water damage and a long wait for insurance money. In early 2005, bankruptcy and foreclosure loomed briefly but were avoided. But Washington was never quite able to catch up financially.Washington, who has poor credit, found a loan he thought would help keep him afloat. A lender told Washington he would hold the title to the home if Washington paid $600 a month in rent for one year. When the year was up, Washington could refinance his home. It didn't work out that way. Instead, in 2006, the lender sold Washington's home to an investor, who was unaware of the situation. Washington is still living in the house.

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation already is looking into the actions of Charles Head, the lender who dealt with Washington. Meanwhile, Washington is searching for a lawyer to help him regain ownership of his home.

For more, see Foreclosures fly through roof, or go here for the same story.

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 The Metropolitan Grapevine / Metro Dream Homes "Ponzi Scheme"

The Laurel Leader (Laurel, MD) reports on last week's Prince George's County Circuit Court ruling placing Laurel home- mortgage company Metropolitan Grapevine under receivership and freezing the company's assets:
  • Judge Thomas P. Smith took the action against POS Dream Homes, also known as Metropolitan Grapevine, following a three-day trial that ended Oct. 31. [...] "The only income that the defendants have shown of any significance is the investments of each succeeding generation of investors," Smith wrote in his ruling. "Investments are not income ... because they have to be repaid." Smith not only froze POS' assets, effective Oct. 29, but also those of 18 other entities affiliated with the company.


  • "The examiner wasn't able to do a thorough investigation because at times the office was closed, and (when he did get in he) found computers and files missing," said Raquel Guillory, spokesperson for the state attorney general. The examiner did determine that the company only had $150,000 in cash assets and 50 cars, including numerous S-Class Mercedes Benzes, Corvettes, Escalades and other high-end vehicles. Those vehicles, along with 14 real estate properties in Laurel, Virginia and the District, totaled $2 million, according to court documents.


  • "The only method of the defendants paying older investors was to obtain new investors in a classic Ponzi scheme," Thomas ruled.

For more, see Judge freezes assets (Payoff plan seen as 'classic Ponzi scheme').

See also, Maryland Shutters 'Investment Firm' Amid Fraud Charges (Victims lost more than $50 million in Ponzi scheme) (Consumer Affairs - 11-6-07).

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

Virginia Judge Stripped Of Robe For Courtroom Antics

The New York Post reports:
  • A family court judge in Richmond, Va., was removed from the bench after several kangaroo-court moments, including flipping a coin to decide a custody case. James Michael Shull was unanimously stripped of his robe by the state's Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, which also found the jurist guilty of calling a teen a "mama's boy" and a "wuss" as well as telling a woman to marry her abusive boyfriend.

Source: Weird But True. Go here for other stories on naughty judges. naughty judges

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ohio Feds Squeeze Plea From Upfront Fee Foreclosure Rescue Operator

In Ohio, (The Enquirer) reports:

  • A Springboro man faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud for falsely promising help to Cincinnati and Dayton homeowners concerned about foreclosure. Operating under the name American Foreclosure Group LLC, Randall Webb promised to negotiate with lenders for strapped homeowners in exchange for a $600 to $700 fee. Instead, he filed bankruptcy on behalf of clients, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.

  • Gregory G. Lockhart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said that Webb's business was similar to other foreclosure-rescue scams that promise desperate homeowners help but instead pocket upfront fees. [...] Prosecutors say Webb did little for his distressed customers and, in at least one case, pocketed money from a client that was intended to fund a new payment plan. His clients remained in the dark, in part because he instructed them not to contact their lenders.

For more, see Foreclosure scam triggers plea.

See also, Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud.

For press release announcing the initial indictment, see Springboro Man Indicted In "Operation Truth Or Consequences" National Action Bankruptcy Fraud.

Connecticut Homeowner Slaps Foreclosure Rescue Operator With Federal Lawsuit

In New Haven, Connecticut, the New Haven Independent reports on a foreclosure rescue deal involving a homeowner facing foreclosure and local real estate agent Alex Ortner and his investors, operating through the Whittier Road Land Trust and the Temperly Investment Group LLC:
  • Arthur and Joanne Taylor were days away from losing their Westville home to foreclosure when a man came knocking on the door. He had a plan to save them. Alex Ortner and his real estate company ended up making at least $25,000 off the family in a buy-back scheme now being challenged in New Haven U.S. District Court. After getting slapped with a lawsuit filed in October by attorney Gary Sklaver, Ortner said he won't be making the same offer to desperate homeowners anymore.


  • Sklaver considers Ortner's transaction was not just a sale with buyback option, but a "disguised loan" with an exorbitant interest rate. In this case, investors advanced $36,000 towards the mortgage and were repaid $78,583 a year later, Sklaver calculated - that's a 120 percent interest rate.

  • Sklaver contends the Taylors' home sale falls under the Truth In Lending Act, which requires disclosure of certain information including the interest rate and an option to rescind. Since no such information was disclosed, his clients should be able to rescind the transaction they unwittingly fell into ... , Sklaver argued.
  • Ortner said he's been sued once before by homeowners in a similar buyback case. He agreed to pay a settlement, because "our paperwork wasn't clear for our case." This time, with the Taylors, he said he made sure "everything was made clear." [...] Though Ortner didn't agree he had done anything wrong, he did say the lawsuit has forced him to change his ways. When he knocks on the doors of soon-to-be-foreclosed homes, he said he no longer offers owners to buy back the house: "I can't do that anymore, because people seem to want to sue me if I do that."

For more, see Suit Reveals Foreclosure Rescue Scam.

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.).

Bankrupt Lenders Prohibited From Wiping Out Borrowers' Right To Sue

A statement has recently been filed with Congress on behalf of the United States Trustee Program in connection with their mission of promoting the integrity and efficiency of the United States bankruptcy system.

Among other things, the statement reports that The Program has been active in enforcing a provision of the bankruptcy statute (11 U.S.C. § 363(o)) , which, in the context of credit transactions to which the Truth in Lending Act applies, prohibits bankrupt lenders from selling off their loan portfolios or other interests “free and clear” of the rights of their customers to assert claims or defenses provided under applicable laws. According to the statement:
  • The United States Trustee’s role to enforce [the statute] is paramount because consumer borrowers may not receive notice of the intended sale of their loans. Even if they receive notice, they may not have the financial means to object to the sale or request the sale provisions contain [legally required] safeguards to preserve their rights. To date, United States Trustees have filed pleadings to enforce [this statute] in at least a dozen cases in which bankruptcy sales by lenders did not provide the required and appropriate consumer protection.

(What I guess this means is that, among possibly other things, home mortgage lenders are prohibited from making mortgage loans that violate (blatantly or otherwise) homeowners' rights under consumer protection or other laws, and then file bankruptcy, using the bankruptcy process to (1) wipe out those homeowners' legal rights that the lenders' violated when making the mortgage loan, and (2) subsequently sell off their mortgage loans to other investors, free of the homeowners' ability to enforce those violated legal rights through a lawsuit against a subsequent purchaser of those mortgages.)

Source: The United States Trustee Program: Watchdog Or Attack Dog? (page 5).

Sacramento Feds' Nationwide Investigation Of Charles Head Foreclosure Rescue Scam Largest Current Case In Office

Earlier this week, reports from the Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, NJ) stated that the FBI is currently investigating a nationwide foreclosure scam allegedly mastermined by Charles Head of FundingForeclosure (also of Head Financial) affecting 256 properties stretching from Maine to Hawaii. A report indicates that the case is currently being investigated by the FBI office in Sacramento, California and that it is the largest case currently under investigation by that office. The report also indicates that of the 256 properties listed in a warrant to search the offices of FCO Inc., Costa Mesa, Calif., which is believed to be part of owner Charles Head's financial operation, at least 69 properties are in California. Reports also indicate that Charles Head's whereabouts are currently unknown. For more, see:
For examples of Charles Head's online solicitations and personal profile, see:
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.).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mortgage Elimination Scheme Results In 68 Count Criminal Complaint Against 10

In Stanislaus County, California, The Modesto Bee reports:
  • The Stanislaus County district attorney's office last month filed a 68-count criminal complaint against three real estate agents and seven alleged accomplices from Modesto, Ceres, Waterford, Turlock and Stockton. They are accused of stealing more than $2 million from lenders by filing false documents with the county clerk-recorder's office, indicating that loans to three properties had been paid so straw buyers could get new loans, then cash out the proceeds. [...] Authorities think Eric Charles Braun, 29, of Modesto did most of the legwork by meeting with lenders and managing the paperwork. His attorney, Bruce Perry, said Braun cooperated with authorities once they had a paper trail in hand, something that could help limit his culpability.

According to Braun (who, once he got nailed by authorities, appears to have wasted no time spilling his guts on his confederates to save his own hide), he downloaded legitimate deeds from a public access computer in the Stanislaus County clerk-recorder's office, which were then used to create fraudulent documents then filed with the same office. He also said he purchased notary stamps from a supply store, so the group could forge the names of Modesto-area notaries onto the phony documents. He also claimed that a fictitious mastermind given the name of "Seth Davis" was created and upon whom the blame for the fraud would be ultimately placed when the scheme was planned to end.

In addition to Braun (63 felonies), others charged were:
  • Noah Adam Yates, 29, of Modesto (53 felonies), Jearod Miles Robinson, 34, of Ceres (18 felonies), Doug Eugene Wallick, 32, of Waterford (15 felonies), Darin Eric Abell, 41, of Turlock (9 felonies), Dawna Lea Abell, 38, of Turlock (9 felonies), Elizabeth Marcela Ayhens, 24, of Stockton (2 felonies), Nicholas Matthew Ayhens, 24, of Modesto (2 felonies), Arnold Vergara Rodriguez, 32, of Modesto (2 felonies), Brian William Heytz, 32, of Ceres (1 felony).
Richard Morris, the loan originator whose suspicions and tip-off to authorities prompted the investigation, commented: "If they wouldn't have been so greedy, they might still be in business."

For more, see 3 accused of mortgage fraud (DA charges more than $2M stolen from lenders using false documents).

Homeowners In Foreclosure Being Clipped For Illegally Inflated Legal & Appraisal Fees, Says Lawsuit

In a class action lawsuit originally filed in a Delaware Federal Court in September, with an amended complaint filed yesterday, two Missouri homeowners accuse Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS"), a home loan registration system allegedly controlled by an all star team of nine big time nationwide mortgage lenders, of overcharging borrowers for legal services in foreclosures. MERS reportedly charged borrowers for "attorney fees" of as much as $1,200 - $2,000 and upwards (see Lawsuit - page 18, paragraph 49) while MERS is only charged $400 - $500 by the attorney actually handling the foreclosure (see Lawsuit - page 15, paragraph 36).

The lawsuit also accuses MERS of charging borrowers appraisal fees ranging from $300 to $500 for appraisals that are (1) often times not done at all, or (2) done but some times are nothing more than "drive by" appraisals where the appraiser never actually gets out of his or her automobile (see Lawsuit - page 19, paragraph 52).

In addition to MERS, the lawsuit names as additional defendants the following all star lineup of mortgage lenders who are allegedly the controlling shareholders of MERS:
  • Citigroup, Inc., Countrywide Financial Corporation, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GMAC-RFC Holding Company, LLC, (doing business as GMAC Residential Funding Corporation), HSBC Finance Corporation, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Washington Mutual Bank, and Wells Fargo & Company.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that "MERS is grossly undercapitalized to cover the potential liability stemming directly from its role as primary mortgagee on tens of millions of Mortgage Notes." Because of this, the homeowners / borrowers also seek to hold the above listed all star lineup of mortgage lenders jointly and severally liable for damages as well as MERS (see Lawsuit - page 8, paragraphs 9(l) and 9(m)).

Representing the homeowners are Carmella P. Keener, Wilmington, DE, Jeffrey M. Norton, New York City, and Matthew S. Chase, University City, MO.


To view the lawsuit, see Trevino v. Merscorp Inc., et al..

For a media report which makes reference to this lawsuit, see Borrowers Face Dubious Charges in Foreclosures (subscription required; if no subscription, try here).

Go here , go here , and go here for posts on questionable mortgage servicing practices. questionable mortgage servicing practices tactics yak

Mortgage Servicer's Law Firm, Foreclosure Rescue Operator Hammered By U.S. Trustees In Bankruptcy Cases

On the TPMCafe blog, Warren Reports on the Middle Class reports:
  • [In bankruptcy cases] Seeing a few [U.S.] trustees step up to discipline mortgage lenders and servicers is a heartening development. [R]ecent examples (PDF) of activism by Trustees include an action in Pennsylvania against a firm that promised to save homes from foreclosure, but actually provided almost no services in exchange for its fees. In Texas, a Trustee is moving against a large mortgage servicer. Trustee involvement has already led to a $75,000 sanction against the mortgage servicer’s law firm for making inaccurate representations to the court.

Source: Bankruptcy Trustees Taking Action Against Dishonest Lenders.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Questionable Mortgage Servicing Practices Coming To Light In Bankruptcy Cases

The New York Times reports:
  • As record numbers of homeowners default on their mortgages, questionable practices among lenders are coming to light in bankruptcy courts, leading some legal specialists to contend that companies instigating foreclosures may be taking advantage of imperiled borrowers. Because there is little oversight of foreclosure practices and the fees that are charged, bankruptcy specialists fear that some consumers may be losing their homes unnecessarily or that mortgage servicers, who collect loan payments, are profiting from foreclosures.

  • Bankruptcy specialists say lenders and loan servicers often do not comply with even the most basic legal requirements, like correctly computing the amount a borrower owes on a foreclosed loan or providing proof of holding the mortgage note in question.

  • Regulators need to look beyond their current, myopic focus on loan origination and consider how servicers’ calculation and collection practices leave families vulnerable to foreclosure,” said Katherine M. Porter, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa.


  • Questionable practices by loan servicers appear to be enough of a problem that the Office of the United States Trustee, a division of the Justice Department that monitors the bankruptcy system, is getting involved. Last month, It announced plans to move against mortgage servicing companies that file false or inaccurate claims, assess unreasonable fees or fail to account properly for loan payments after a bankruptcy has been discharged.


  • [O. Max Gardner III, a Shelby, N.C., consumer bankruptcy attorney said,] “Somebody files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they make all their payments, get their discharge and then three months later, they get a statement from their servicer for $7,000 in fees and charges incurred in bankruptcy but that were never applied for in court and never approved.

Included among the examples of questionable practices by mortgage servivcing companies is a reference to a class action lawsuit filed against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (aka "MERS"), a home loan registration system which oversees more than 20 million mortgage loans and is reportedly owned by Fannie Mae, Countrywide Financial and other large lenders. MERS is accused of overcharging borrowers for legal services in foreclosures. According to Jeffrey M. Norton, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, it pays its foreclosure attorneys a flat fee of $400 or $500 but charges the borrowers three or four times that amount. The plaintiff's mortgage loan is reportedly owned by Washington Mutual, and went into foreclosure in 2006.

For more, see Borrowers Face Dubious Charges in Foreclosures (if link expired, try here).

For another lawsuit accusing a mortgage servicing company of questionable practices, see Ellington Credit Fund, Ltd. vs. Select Portfolio, Inc., et al. (Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint - 19 counts - 52 pages, 2.35 MB approx.) - available online courtesy of Michael Dillon and

Go here , go here , and go here for posts on questionable mortgage servicing practices. questionable mortgage servicing practices tactics yak

Attorney Meets With Victims Of Eastern Pennsylvania Alleged Mortgage Investment "Ponzi Scheme"

Lancaster Online reports on an informational meeting held by attorney Joseph O'Keefe with about 430 property owners who face significantly higher mortgage bills due their involvement with local real estate operator Wesley Snyder and his companies, OPFM Inc. and Image Masters, among others. O'Keefe filed a class action lawsuit in September to void mortgages held by 25 lenders. In all, they hold about 800 disputed notes brokered by Wesley A. Snyder's OPFM Inc. and Snyder's other businesses.

Among other things, despite a temporary mortgage payment arrangement ordered by the Federal judge presiding over the case, O'Keefe states that some lenders have ignored that agreement, telling customers they must make the full loan payment. O'Keefe said his team has received a litany of complaints lodged by customers of one lending company and urged those customers to testify in federal court against the lenders.

Some at the meeting were upset at how easily the case was moved out of the area (a Berks County, Pennsylvania state court) where OPFM president Wesley A. Snyder operated his businesses. The case is now in a Philadelphia Federal Court. For more, see Creditors play tough on OPFM mortgages (Lawyer says judge sees case’s urgency).

Go here to view WFMZ-TV Channel 69 News coverage and comments from attorney Joseph O'Keefe and some of the victims of the alleged Ponzi scheme, or here to read the Channel 69 online report.

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.

Feds Investigating Nationwide Foreclosure Rescue Scam

A national foreclosure rescue scam has ensnared hundreds of victims in 27 states, including at least 17 homeowners in New Jersey, according to a story in the Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey). Among the New Jersey victims who unwittingly signed away title to their homes in purported sale leaseback arrangements are two mothers in Ocean County and a widow in Middlesex County. A disabled Vietnam veteran in Delaware also claims to be among the defrauded. According to the story:
  • An IRS search warrant obtained by the Press lists 256 affected properties stretching from Maine to Hawaii. The warrant identified 106 homeowners as victims and 99 third-party, or straw, buyers, who may have unwittingly propelled the fraud forward. Two dozen companies are also named, but it is unclear what their roles were in the investigation. An FBI spokesman and an IRS agent last week confirmed the investigation into the companies and people behind what had been touted as a way for small investors to save financially strapped homeowners.

  • "It is a large and significant case," FBI spokesman John Cauthen said. "We're investigating with the full force and weight of the FBI." Cauthen said no charges have been filed. Nonetheless, the FBI has sent letters to homeowners and investors to inform them they are victims.

  • Those letters identified Charles Head, operator of the now-defunct, as the focus of the investigation. Head could not be reached for comment. Private attorneys representing the victims said Head, believed to be from Florida, cannot be located.

Reportedly, the FBI letters have been helpful to some in that a couple of the victims have successfully used the letters to convince judges to postpone ongoing foreclosure proceedings. For more, see Victims of scam face losing homes.

For related stories on two of the New Jersey victims, see:

Go here for an earlier report from Hawaii on the Charles Head FBI investigation.

Go here for other posts on foreclosure rescue operator Charles Head.

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.).

Minnesota Equity Stripping Victim Now Suing Foreclosure Rescue Operator

Minnesota Public Radio reports the story of Anita Nunn, a Minneapolis-area resident who lost her home more than a year ago in a foreclosure rescue deal. She lived in her South Minneapolis home since 1999 until the onset of her financial problems triggered by a job loss when her job at a call center was transferred to India. She was unable to find another job until after her unemployment ran out, at which point she was already behind on her mortgage. When the offers of "help" started pouring in, she responded to one that resulted in a foreclosure rescue transaction involving The Ordway Group. The story describes what happened next:
  • The company and an outside investor bought Nunn's house, bringing it out of foreclosure. They then rented it back to Nunn. Under the agreement, she could eventually buy the house back. But her monthly rent payments were several hundred dollars higher than they were when she owned the house, and Nunn was soon unable to keep up.

  • If she had sold her house instead of taking the deal, she could have walked away with approximately $50,000 in home equity. Instead, she lost that equity, and in 2004, she lost the house. The company evicted her so they could resell it.

  • Nunn is now suing The Ordway Group, alleging the company misrepresented a deal that offered hope that she would keep her home but instead doomed her to losing it. "I think they took away her options," says Nunn's attorney Bryan Battina. He says the deal preyed upon her hope that she could stay in the house. "Just the simple fact that they talked her into this agreement that was basically set up to fail, they in turn took away any other opportunities she had," Battina says.
For more, see Equity-stripping scams could rise as foreclosures increase.

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.).

"Quick Flips" Transform Luxury Estate Homes Into Public Nuisances

In Tampa, Florida, The Tampa Tribune reports on the fate of five luxury homes that were bought and sold on the same day (with simultaneous closings) by real estate operator Atlantic Coast Investments to straw buyers with questionable backgrounds:
  • Once they were dream homes, with views of the golf course, a marble-floored music room, servants' quarters and a taste of the good life behind the gates of some of Tampa's most posh communities. Now, they sit abandoned, with overgrown lawns, leaky roofs and deep-green, algae-filled pools. They are empty and overpriced. All are in foreclosure. One has been declared a public nuisance by Tampa Code Enforcement and two others have active cases against them. All were bought sight unseen by a South Florida investor who is suing his former business partners and lawyer for fraud and identity theft.

Reportedly, two of the straw buyers (who together purchased four of the homes) have outstanding court judgments against them for more than $600,000. For more, see Questionable flips leave upscale homes derelict.

Florida Homeowner Stiffed By Unlicensed Contractor

A recent reader of The Miami Herald Action Line asks:
  • My wife and I live in New York and have a house in Palm Beach. On April 30, we gave North Star VP Shutters $6,474 -- a 50 percent deposit -- to purchase hurricane shutters. The company never delivered, and, according to the building department, never applied for a permit. The last we heard, in August, they were ''walking through'' the permit, whatever that means. [...] Can Action Line help us get our money back?

Action Line responds:

  • Unfortunately, there's a lot more wrong with this picture than you think. As you found out, North Star VP Shutters hasn't applied for a permit for your house, and with good reason; it's not licensed to do such work. It had you sign an application for an owner/builder permit (a major red flag of unlicensed contracting), which has gone nowhere.

Among other questionable paperwork the homeowner received from the company was a ''contract'' with no license number on it (illegal); a copy of another company's state license; a copy of a liability insurance certificate, which, according to state records, was canceled.

Action Line further informs:

  • Unlicensed contracting [In Florida] is a felony unto itself; accepting deposits without a license for jobs that require one constitutes grand theft. [...] In addition to all this, North Star VP filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Oct. 22. However, this doesn't protect its principals from any potential criminal prosecution.

For more, see North Star VP shutter company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. (if link expires, try here).

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mortgage Industry Balks At Proposed Changes In Bankruptcy Law To Help Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

The Wall Street Journal reports:
  • Some major U.S. banks are concerned an effort by Democrats to help mortgage borrowers avoid foreclosure could lead lawmakers to scale back tough bankruptcy overhauls adopted two years ago, when Republicans were in power. To help address defaults and foreclosures on subprime mortgages, lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to rework the terms and conditions of loans. Consumer groups have gotten behind the effort, and caught the ear of some Republicans from districts seeing mortgage problems.


  • The new bill, sponsored by Reps. Brad Miller (D., N.C.) and Linda Sanchez (D., Calif.), would allow bankruptcy judges to change the interest rate and length of a mortgage for borrowers in bankruptcy, in an effort to avoid foreclosure. It could also potentially allow judges to change the balance of a loan. For example, if a borrower near foreclosure owed $125,000 on a house now worth $100,000, the judge could mark $25,000 as "unsecured debt," which would make it much harder for the bank to recover that portion.


  • [House Judiciary Committee Chairman John] Conyers said his panel could vote on the bill as early as this week. That could set the stage for action this month by the full House, where its scope possibly could be broadened. Sens. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) are working on a related bill in the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee may take it up early next year, according to a panel aide.

From: Banks Fear Democrat Bids To Aid Mortgage Borrowers (may require subscription; if no subscription, try here or try here).

More On Central Florida Foreclosure Rescue Operator Peter Porcelli

The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports on how Central Florida foreclosure rescue operator Peter J. Porcelli did business. Porcelli formed Safe Harbour Foundation, which billed itself as a nonprofit group even though it never registered with the IRS for nonprofit status, and used the entity to allegedly arrange usurious loans to homeowners facing foreclosure as a way to save their homes from repossession. As part of the loan arrangement, the homeowners agreed that, in the event of a default on the loan, the lender would be able to exercise an option to buy the financially strapped person's home at below fair market value, an apparent attempt to bypass the foreclosure process and rip off the owner's home equity at the same time. Excerpts from the story:
  • [Six] homeowners who used Safe Harbour have filed a $40 million federal lawsuit against the company, accusing the Safe Harbour Foundation, Porcelli and 15 other individuals and companies of stealing their property through illegal loans. [...] "In every case, the title of the homes have been lost or is threatened by foreclosures," said attorney Michael Wasylik, who is representing the homeowners, four of whom are from Sarasota County. "If nothing else, we're confident this lawsuit will restore these people's homes to them."

In an unrelated case, Porcelli was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison last week for wire and mail fraud charges in Illinois in a separate scam. For more, see Desperate to avoid a foreclosure, homeowners say they were scammed.

To view a copy of the lawsuit, see Heise, et al. vs. Porcelli, et al.

Go here for other posts on Peter Porcelli.

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.).

First American Issued Phony Appraisals, Charges NY AG; Execs Knew It & Allowed It Anyway, Says Suit

(original post 11-2-07; modified 11-13-07)
The New York State Attorney General's Office announces:

  • Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo [Thursday] announced that he is suing one of the nation’s largest real estate appraisal management companies and its parent corporation for colluding with the largest savings and loan in the country to inflate the appraisal values of homes. In a scheme detailed in numerous e-mails, eAppraiseIT (“EA”), a subsidiary of First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF), caved to pressure from Washington Mutual (“WaMu”) (NYSE: WM) to use a list of preferred “Proven Appraisers” who provided inflated appraisals on homes. The e-mails also show that executives at EA knew their behavior was illegal, but intentionally broke the law to secure future business with WaMu.

  • The independence of the appraiser is essential to maintaining the integrity of the mortgage industry. First American and eAppraiseIT violated that independence when Washington Mutual strong-armed them into a system designed to rip off homeowners and investors alike,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The blatant actions of First American and eAppraiseIT have contributed to the growing foreclosure crisis and turmoil in the housing market. By allowing Washington Mutual to hand-pick appraisers who inflated values, First American helped set the current mortgage crisis in motion.”
For more, see New York AG Press Release - NY Attorney General Sues First American And Its Subsidiary For Conspiring With Washington Mutual To Inflate Real Estate Appraisals.

To view the New York AG's lawsuit, see Cuomo vs. First American Corporation and First American eAppraiseIT.

Go here to view E-Mail Excerpts in eAppraiseIT Case.

For CBS News coverage, see N.Y. AG: Appraisers Inflated Home Values (Real Estate Appraisers Colluded With Banks To Inflate Mortgage Values, Andrew Cuomo Says).

For an earlier story on the NY AG investigation of eAppraiseIT, which reportedly appraises up to 15,000 homes a year in New York, see New York Subpoenas First American Appraisal Unit (

11-12-07 supplement:

For a recent story on inflated appraisals, see Banks bullying appraisers to boost values bad news (Kenneth Harney syndicated article).

Go here for other posts on the NY AG's investigation of First American / eAppraiseIT. Cuomo OFHEO Fannie Mae Freddie Mac

Lawsuit Filings By Condo Buyers Seeking To Back Out Of Purchase Contracts Picking Up Steam In South Florida

The Miami Herald reports:
  • Brooklyn housekeeper Rita Dobrer was swept up in South Florida's real estate frenzy, using $600,000 from a jury award as deposits on six condominiums in two Miami projects in 2005. Dobrer said she never had the intention, let alone the financial ability, to buy the six condos -- which cost about $3 million. Rather, she claimed she was enticed by the developer's verbal guarantees that she could reap $600,000 in profits by selling the units without ever taking ownership.

  • Dobrer's hopes for a windfall, though, have cratered in the ailing residential real estate market. Unable to flip the units, Dobrer joined 35 other Russian immigrants in New York, New Jersey and Florida who on Friday sued Miami developer The Related Group for the return of the deposits on units in [two of Related's construction projects].

Reportedly, one buyer seeking to recover her deposit claimed that the developer wooed buyers with buffet dinners at a fancy Russian restaurant in New York and that the the sales rep told her she could make $100,000.

Among the allegations made against the developer is that it needed to register its condominiums as investments before pitching units to New York buyers, as required by New York state law. The purpose of the law is to ensure prospective buyers have detailed information to make a reasoned judgment about whether to buy.

For more, see Condo-buyer lawsuits mount (Lawsuits filed by would-be condo buyers wanting out of purchase contracts continue to increase as projects near completion).

Go here for other stories on real estate speculators looking to back out of purchase contracts.

Go here for other posts related to the Miami condo market problem. zebra

Twin Cities-Area Home Builder, Others Plead Guilty In Massive Straw Buyer Scam

(original post 11-2-07)
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
  • The principal players behind a giant mortgage fraud conspiracy that beset several southern Twin Cities suburbs and cast a pall over the area's housing market pleaded guilty to felony charges today in U.S. District Court. Michael Parish, 62, president and owner of Parish Marketing and Development Corp., admitted to constructing the wide-ranging conspiracy that bilked lenders on nearly 200 properties that the company had built in New Prague, New Market and Lonsdale over the past few years.

  • The company, which also pleaded guilty in the case, made at least $25 million on $100 million in loans that Parish and his co-conspirators had obtained by using "straw buyers" to purchase the homes. In its plea agreement, the company admitted to using the money to keep building homes, to make payments on some of the mortgages, and to keep the scheme going.


  • His wife, Ardith, 61, admitted to playing a minor role in the conspiracy as a company's officer and its bookkeeper. She faces a maximum term of five years in prison plus 2 or 3 years of supervised release and restitution. Christopher Troup, 39, is a son-in-law of the Parishes who acted as a straw buyer on 60 properties, helped recruit other straw buyers, and created bogus documentation to qualify borrowers for larger loans and to substantiate inflated property appraisals. Troup pleaded guilty to conspiracy and one count of money laundering. The government estimates his recommended sentence at 9 to 111/4 years, plus 2 or 3 years of supervised release and restitution.

For more, see 3 defendants in mortgage fraud case plead guilty (A couple and their son-in-law in the wide-ranging scheme face from five to 14 years in prison).

See also, Developers plead guilty in Minn. mortgage fraud case (The Associated Press).

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

Institute For Foreclosure Legal Assistance (IFLA) Formed To Aid Families Facing Foreclosure

From a Joint Press Release from the Center for Responsible Lending and the National Association of Consumer Advocates:
  • As the nation's foreclosure epidemic continues to worsen, the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) has formed the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance (IFLA) to support groups giving legal representation to families facing foreclosure and financial ruin because of abusive subprime mortgages. The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) will manage the project, which recognizes that one of the biggest barriers families face to avoid losing their homes is the lack of access to quality legal services. The Institute, launched with a $15 million grant from investment management firm Paulson & Co. Inc., will provide funding and training to organizations that help homeowners negotiate alternatives to foreclosure.

  • The majority of the funds will be grants to support direct legal assistance to borrowers in 10 or more states to fight foreclosure, predatory lenders and abusive loan servicers. It will do this primarily by providing money to top non-profit legal-aid groups and law school clinics.
For more, see Press Release - Helping Americans Keep Their Homes: Center for Responsible Lending Establishes New Institute to Help Homeowners Threatened by Subprime Lending Crisis (Institute to Provide Legal Assistance to Families Facing Surge in Foreclosures).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Foreclosed Home Loaded With Toxic Mold; Note Left By Former Owner Tips Off Unwitting Buyer

WYFF-TV Channel 4 reports the story of a Greenville, South Carolina home that was so loaded with toxic mold and that made one of the then-homeowners and her two young daughters so sick, doctors told them to leave the home immediately. After discovering the toxic mold and after what the doctors told them, the family, with no money in savings to have the mold removed, stopped paying their mortgage and let the home go into foreclosure.

Prior to the bank taking ownership of the home, and under the belief that some unwitting homeowner down the road would end up in the same shoes he found himself in, homeowner George Leventis wrote a note warning of the mold problem contained in the home and left the note inside "a secret room" behind a bookshelf in the hope that the note would be found by a new homebuyer.
  • "I put it in the room because I didn't want anyone to find it if it was left out in the house. I figured if someone else who had another interest or a stake in the house found it, they would just throw it away or they wouldn't tell anyone," Leventis said.
As fate would have it, the note went undetected by the foreclosing lender, who took ownership of the home in foreclosure, or the real estate brokerage and sales agent who sold the home to the new homebuyers, also parents with a young child, who ultimately discovered the note after taking title to the home.

The new homeowners filed a lawsuit against the real estate brokerage, the sales agent, and the mortgage lender, Fannie Mae. Reportedly, Fannie Mae agreed to buy back the home for the original selling price of $75,000 and will be dropped from the lawsuit. The litigation against the brokerage and the sales agent continues. For more, see Hidden Room, Hidden Danger.

Go here to view the WYFF-TV Channel 4 video report.

Go here to read the mold warning note left by the prior homeowner.

Copper & Metal Theft Stings Around The Country

Honolulu, Hawaii: Hawaii recyclers seized in stolen-copper sting (Two metal recyclers became the first people arrested under a new state law designed to choke off the market for stolen copper by increasing the amount of documentation needed for scrap metal transactions.).

San Leandro, California: Sting nets nine in theft of metal (Nine people were arrested in a follow-up sting for Operation Hotwire to catch metal thieves. It was a follow-up to an operation in which 23 people were arrested in three days. The more recent sting ran from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at AlCo Iron and Metal, a metal recycling company. "We did a follow-up because the problem is so big with burglaries of wire and copper from buildings that are sold for cash," said San Leandro Lt. Tom Overton. ).

Austin, Texas: APD arrests 11 in undercover sting (The Undercover Operation was conducted due to the increasing problem of theft of copper and items that contain copper such as wire and cable. This investigation targeted scrap metal dealers who purchase stolen copper or copper materials.).

Chattanooga, Tennessee: Sting nets several charged in metals thefts (Chattanooga police cooperated with a local business to arrest several alleged metal thieves in a recent undercover sting. The sting operation helped authorities catch several people who reportedly have been stealing metals in and around the Chattanooga area. Assisting was Commercial Metals of Chattanooga, which furnished 124 pounds of copper, 23 pounds of steel and 20 pounds of brass.). copper metal theft zebra

More Copper Theft Stories

Yakima, Washington: State strikes back at copper thieves (Faced with copper wire thefts that disable warning signs, weather monitoring stations and traffic cameras through Snoqualmie Pass, state road crews are welding shut electrical junction boxes along I-90).

Fort Smith, Arkansas: Man Found Electrocuted In Warehouse (A man was electrocuted in Fort Smith while possibly attempting to steal copper from a former furniture factory. “I’m not sure this gentleman had a legal reason to be there, but copper theft is a definite possibility,” an investigator said.).

Macon, Georgia: Copper theft knocks radio station off the air (A central Georgia radio station was knocked off the air after someone stole copper from the station's transmitter. "They basically stripped the entire site,'' said James Gay, engineer for rock station Q106. "Pretty much everything that keeps us on the air is removed.'' The thief or thieves stripped copper from the air conditioner, generator, transfer switch and took all the electronics, Gay said. Equipment also was damaged, he said. The station was reported off the air about 9 a.m. Monday, and wasn't back on until 4:30 p.m. It was the third time in two months the station has been hit by a copper theft, Gay said.

Chicago, Illinois: Rising scrap prices fire up thieves (Copper pipe, catalytic converters high on list). When an electrical crew arrived at a construction site on a recent Monday morning, the workers made an unwelcome discovery: Thieves had plundered the unfinished building during the weekend, using ladders and electric saws to expertly cut copper piping out of the structure's ceiling. "It was already in place," site manager Jim Senderak said of the stolen copper piping. "They took cordless saws, cut everything out and left," Senderak said. Material thieves don't stop at construction sites, either. In September, two men swiped at least 60 copper or bronze vases from a cemetery in Oakbrook Terrace, and, if the duo had not been caught, the theft could have netted them $8,000. From 2002 to 2006, the price of copper more than quadrupled, from 75 cents per pound to $3.20 per pound, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

California: Unusual Culprits Cripple Farms in California (Copper thieves have been stripping the copper wires out of irrigation systems throughout California. The rampant thefts have left farmers without functioning water pumps for days and weeks at a time, creating financial loss and occasional crop devastation in a region still smarting from a spectacular freeze last winter. Theft of scrap metal, mostly copper, has been fueled largely by record-level prices for copper resulting from a building boom in Asia. Common in developing counties, metal theft is now committed in nearly every state, largely by methamphetamine users who hock the metal to buy drugs, the authorities say.). copper metal theft zebra

Firefighter In Foreclosure Charged With Stealing $43K From Fire Company Till

In Halfmoon, New York, WTEN-TV Channel 10 (Albany, NY) reports that 50-year-old Lee Lussier - a firefighter in the Town of Halfmoon, who was originally accused of stealing more than $8,000 from the Mansfield Hose Fire Company in the West Crescent Fire District, actually took about $43,000, according to a recent report by the State Comptroller. They also say his wife, who was responsible for collecting money paid for renting the fire hall, took nearly $19,000 herself. Both were arrested in August. At the time, Lussier was the treasurer of the fire company. He allegedly told fire officials he was desperately trying to save his home on Crescent Road from foreclosure. Source: Halfmoon Firefighter Accused of Stealing $43K from Department.

Elderly Couple Facing Foreclosure Commits Suicide

In Prineville, Oregon, the Statesman Journal reports:

  • [Last week], Crook County sheriff’s deputies went to the home east of Prineville after neighbors called with concerns that they were not answering their door, and their dogs were missing. They walked up the driveway and smelled gas. Inside the attached locked garage, a 1981 Cadillac Eldorado sat empty, its engine running. Then they entered the house. They found the bodies of Raymond Donaca, 71, and three golden retrievers. Upstairs they discovered the bodies of Deanna Donaca, 69, and a fourth dog. [...] Court records show that the couple lost the home in Central Oregon this summer following a court battle after more than a decade of financial trouble.

For more, see Oregon couple facing foreclosure commits suicide (if link expired, try here).

See also, KTVZ-TV Channel 21 reports:

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