Dear Florida Supreme Court: OMG.
1 day ago
Former President George W. Bush was asked during an interview last night why he believes waterboarding is legal.No kidding? So since your lawyer says it's legal, it must be legal? Fair enough, I think we all would agree that's why we seek the advice of an attorney, if they say it's Kosher, then we move forward, if not then we don't.
"Because the lawyer said it was," Bush said. "He said it did not fall within the Anti-Torture Act. I'm not a lawyer, but you gotta trust the judgment of people around you and I do."
"...you gotta trust the judgment of people around you and I do."We've come across a very unusual mortgage fraud prosecution, one where the purchase price of the home was increased before the closing, done so at the instruction of the attorney who advised his clients that doing so was completely legal. Turns out though while this attorney was advising his clients that increasing the purchase price and putting a second mortgage on the home was completely legal he was working with the police and was instructed by the cops to go ahead and have his clients close this deal that he knew was going to get them arrested.
-- Have you ever tried to get public records from your government? Florida's Sunshine Law dictates that your wonderful and dedicated public servants should be reasonable and timely in supplying you the information. But that's not the way it works. The awful and terrible School Board, for instance, almost always tries to hit the public up with several hundred dollars in costs, especially stuff that people don't want to let out. It's just another sign of arrogance. But few compare to a recent case involving a Miami blog. The Straw Buyer requested from the Miami-Dade Police Department emails between a prosecutor and a detective in a well-publicized mortgage fraud case. Simple enough, it would seem, with one sender and one recipient. I could find that information on my email account in about 12 seconds.Brilliant, thanks for the mention Mr. Norman.
Well, I'm not a governmental entity. After the jump, see how much the PD said it would cost to retrieve those emails.
That's right, nearly half a million dollars to find emails between one prosecutor and one detective involving one criminal case.
So how did they break that incredible cost down?
Using who knows what algorithm, Lt. Kathi Miller of the Economic Crimes Bureau determined that it would take 194 days to find the emails. The cost per day to "retrieve mailbox data": $2,495.97.
Multiply those two numbers and it comes to $484,218.46.
See, it all makes sense after all.
No matter though, David J. Stern seems to be doing fine himself,
Stern's DAL Enters Forbearance Agreement With Bank of America Over CreditBy Dawn McCarty - Nov 15, 2010 7:51 AM ET
A business run by David Stern, the Florida foreclosure lawyer who is under investigation by the state’s attorney general, entered a forbearance agreement with lender Bank of America NA.
The bank agreed not to take action in the period ending Nov. 26 over a default on a revolving line of credit by DAL Group LLC, a unit of Stern’s foreclosure-processing company, DJSP Enterprises Inc., according to a regulatory filing. The credit line, entered into in March, has an outstanding principal balance of about $12 million, DAL said.
Jeffrey Tew, Stern’s lawyer, said earlier this month that Stern’s law firm and DJSP cut about half of their staff after mortgage-financing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ended ties with Stern. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said he is investigating Stern’s law firm because it appears to be submitting “false and misleading” documents in foreclosure cases.
Stern’s businesses continue to operate and have a total of between 400 to 500 employees, Tew said on Nov. 4. DAL received a notice of default from Bank of America on Nov. 5, according to the regulatory filing.
Stern owns a $15 million mansion on an island in Fort Lauderdale, a $6 million beachfront condominium in the city, and a $6 million home in nearby Hillsboro Beach, according to property records...Cars registered under Stern’s name in Florida include three Ferraris, four Porsches, a Rolls-Royce, a Cadillac and the Bugatti, according to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. He also owns a yacht..."Well, not just one yacht, but several, two of these...
The "Sunshine" Law119.01 General state policy on public records -
(1) It is the policy of this state that all state, county, and municipal records are open for personal inspection and copying by any person. Providing access to public records is a duty of each agency.
No payments whatsoever have been made on the loan.Something just didn't seem right about that part, I mean after all, the people involved in this fraud who made away with over $400,000 in ill gotten gains were far too smart to not make payments on the loan at least for a year in order to escape suspicion of being a fraudulent transaction. So why would a sophisticated con man make such a simple mistake and almost certainly guarantee that his nefarious scheme was going to be found out even if the man whose identity they used for the fraud never claimed his identity was stolen? Something seemed haywire here.
That's the testimony the witness gave after being shown a clean copy of the check, months later at deposition, the same witness is shown a copy of the check with her handwriting after which she recants her testimony.She had no knowledge that an unrelated third party named Michael Martinez had provided the cashier's check for $123,530.56 as earnest money. If she had been made aware of Michael Martinez' role in the transaction and that he had provided the cashier's check for $123,530.56 as earnest money, she would have not completed the closing and would have notified the lender. She was never made aware that the cashier's check for $123,530.56 used as earnest money was not obtained until February 21, 2008, 2 days after the closing.
Taking 2nd Mortgage to Pay the Foreclosure Lawyer
By DAVID STREITFELD
Published: November 6, 2010
For some Florida residents, the price of getting out of foreclosure will include taking on a second mortgage — payable this time to their lawyers. “We’re not money lenders,” said Peter Ticktin, a foreclosure lawyer who devised a “pay later” plan for troubled homeowners. Thomas Ice and other foreclosure lawyers in Florida typically receive a few hundred dollars a month from each client. The new mortgage, which takes effect only if the foreclosure is dismissed and the homeowner’s debt to the bank is reduced, is controversial among defense lawyers, some of whom call it “creepy” and “crass.” Yet even they acknowledge it offers a solution to a vexing question: How do they get paid?
After recent revelations that banks were sloppy in processing many foreclosures and in some cases lack standing to seize a house, potential clients seeking to challenge their lenders are flocking to lawyers. But while these distressed homeowners might have a case, they generally lack the resources to pay legal fees. Being in foreclosure usually means being broke.
“We thought, ‘Why don’t we use a bit of ingenuity to find an affordable way to represent them?’ ” said Peter Ticktin of the Ticktin Law Group in Deerfield Beach, Fla. “It’s a new model, a new paradigm.”
Foreclosure defense is a new legal specialty whose strategies and techniques are still being worked out. Mr. Ticktin, who has some 3,000 foreclosure clients, says his plan to collect fees by taking another mortgage on his clients’ properties has already been copied by other firms.
The Ticktin mortgages resemble the loans that the clients originally got from Countrywide, GMAC and other lenders. Each will be a contractual obligation with the law firm, labeled as a mortgage and structured like one, too, with the client paying a certain sum every month and using the house as collateral.
Unconventional payment structures are becoming popular in the foreclosure hotbed of Florida. Whether they yet have caught on elsewhere is unclear. Certainly, Mr. Ticktin is far from the only lawyer being forced to innovate.
“We can put in $100,000 of our time but over the length of a case be paid only $6,000 in monthly fees,” said Thomas E. Ice of Ice Legal in Royal Palm Beach.
Mr. Ice, Mr. Ticktin and many other Florida foreclosure lawyers typically receive a few hundred dollars a month from each client. To supplement that, they seek legal fees from the banks they successfully challenge as well as contingency fees.
Contingency fees are standard in cases in which the client has little money but there is the possibility of a large payout. A slip and fall on a store’s wet floor or a medical malpractice claim are classic contingency cases. If the plaintiff wins, insurance companies ultimately foot the bill.
In foreclosure cases, however, the client pays the contingency fee. While such an approach is sometimes used in commercial litigation, this is a first for consumer cases, said Lester Brickman, a professor at Cardozo Law School in New York.
“For a lawyer to supplement or replace the banks as a long-term mortgage creditor of homeowners leaves me a little queasy,” said Mr. Brickman, an expert on contingency fees. “It’s an invitation for the public to say, ‘There go the lawyers again.’ ”
If the Ticktin lawyers — there are 19 now and will be two more soon — cause the original mortgage to be nullified or reduced because of the bank’s misdeeds, the client must take out a new mortgage for 40 percent of the savings.
For instance, if the mortgage was $500,000 and is reduced by the bank to $200,000, the client would owe Ticktin 40 percent of $300,000, or $120,000, minus any legal fees paid by the losing bank as well as any monthly sums paid to the law firm.
Clients would be attracted to this arrangement because they might save nearly $200,000 and avoid foreclosure. They can either stay in their house or — after another legal hurdle — sell it.
Mr. Ticktin conceded there were potential problems with this “pay later” plan, starting with the uncertainty over whether the clients could and would pay the debt over a period of many years and what Mr. Ticktin’s response would be if they did not.
“We would never enforce the mortgage and foreclose,” he said. “We’re not in that end of the game. We’re not money lenders. We’re charging a small amount of interest” — four percent — “just to make it legal.”
For any of this to happen, of course, he has to win his cases. Successful foreclosure litigation can take years, and even if the banks are under fire few believe they will go out of their way to make it any easier. But even if people in foreclosure never win a settlement from a bank, they could stay a few more months in their homes by filing a lawsuit.
The Ticktin firm is growing rapidly, adding three clients a day. If all 3,000 clients ended with mortgages payable to the firm, Mr. Ticktin said, “that would be wonderful, but realistically I’m expecting fewer.”
So far, he said, he has mortgages on the homes of five clients. None were available for comment.
Other lawyers said they were still puzzling over how to proceed. Roy Oppenheim is a veteran foreclosure defense lawyer, which means he has been doing it two years.
“Until recently, foreclosure defense would have been considered the lowest of the low — below the divorce guys, below ambulance chasers,” said Mr. Oppenheim, who practices in Weston, Fla. “The idea was inconceivable that you might have legitimate defenses when your client did not pay the bank that had lent them a sum of money.”
Then foreclosure lawyers started deposing bank employees, who admitted that their behavior in preparing court documents was negligent. That was quickly followed this fall by freezes imposed by some of the lenders. All 50 state attorneys general have joined forces to investigate and reshape banks’ foreclosure practices.
Mr. Oppenheim now has 500 clients, twice as many as a year ago, all whom are paying $500 a month. “I’m happy and thrilled to wake up in the morning and be a real estate attorney in Florida,” he said. “We’re starting to look at what the definition of exemplary representation would be.” That would allow them to charge higher fees.
Some foreclosure lawyers have a more traditional approach, starting with a firm grip on clients’ expectations.
“Any time someone calls me and says, ‘I want to keep the house and get my mortgage gone,’ I say, ‘That’s not realistic or fair,’ ” said Margery E. Golant of Boca Raton, a former executive at the lender Ocwen.
She takes foreclosure clients who can afford to pay as they go; there are a few. “I don’t want to be my client’s creditor,” she said. “I want to be on their side.”
Counting on clients to shoulder a large legal bill after the case is over can be fraught with conflicts, said Mr. Ice, the Royal Palm Beach lawyer.
In some cases, he said, the best a client might be able to do was get a mortgage modification. But the client might reject a bank’s offer if it did not allow him enough every month to pay Mr. Ice as well.
“It’s touchy,” the lawyer said. “I don’t ever want to have a client say, ‘I’m not taking the deal because I can’t afford to pay you.’ ”
“We would never enforce the mortgage and foreclose”Oh, ok then, it's just a mortgage for shits and grins. Even better:
Mr. Oppenheim now has 500 clients, twice as many as a year ago, all whom are paying $500 a month. “I’m happy and thrilled to wake up in the morning and be a real estate attorney in Florida”No shit Captain Obvious? Who wouldn't be delighted to get up every morning knowing that you're making $8219.18 A DAY?!
"Whose handwriting is that?" Raben asked Carey-Shuler. "It's mine," she replied.WHOOPS! Now, in this case the state alleges that this copy of the letter with Carey-Shuler's handwriting all over it was buried in a box somewhere in the prosecutors office. Some excuse huh? The state can't take enough care before ruining someones life, career and reputation to search through every single document in their possession before pressing charges, that's rather careless isn't it? Is this the kind of care and caution that a prosecutor uses before making such a high profile case? I can't speculate as to what exactly happened in the Spence-Jones case or why the state do a thorough investigation into their own files before showing this letter to their star witness against Spence-Jones, for the sake of this argument, let's just say this was a tragic oversight on the part of the prosecutor.
When Raben quizzed her if the final version -- the one prosecutors alleged was a forgery -- was "genuine," Carey-Shuler said: "That's correct."