Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Traffic stop...

I'm a little too busy today for a proper blog post, in the mean time, enjoy this footage of a traffic stop by a Miami Beach Police Sergeant...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Michelle Spence-Jones charged again!

We've discussed former city of Miami commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones several times over the last year or so, things were looking up for here recently when the states star main witness against her, Barbara Carey-Shuler recanted the most damaging testimony against her, that is till now.  According to the court docket it looks like the state filed new charges against Spence-Jones on November 11, 2010...

From the Miami Herald article...

Miami official Spence-Jones faces another charge

Miami-Dade prosecutors added a grand theft charge to the bribery case of suspended Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.

Prosecutors on Monday added an additional grand theft charge to the bribery case against suspended Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones.
A grand jury originally indicted Spence-Jones in March after prosecutors said she illegally solicited a $25,000 bribe from mega-developer Armando Codina, who was awaiting a vote from the commission on an issue affecting a lucrative downtown development project.
Codina paid $12,500, and asked the project's chief developer, Ricardo Glas, to kick in another $12,500 to the Friends of MLK Trust, which Spence-Jones ran from her office, prosecutors allege.
In a statement to prosecutors, Codina claimed he paid the money because he did not want to ``poke her in the eye'' before the vote.
He said he paid the donation he believed was sponsoring an event honoring former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler.
In earlier court hearings, Miami-Dade prosecutor Richard Scruggs said Codina was duped because the money never went to the Carey-Shuler event -- and the Friends of MLK Trust didn't even exist until months later. That amounts to the theft of Codina's money, leading to the latest charge in addition to the bribery count, prosecutors said.
Spence-Jones, 43, who represented Liberty City and Overtown, is facing a Jan. 18 trial for soliciting the bribe from Codina. The additional charge was added after she admitted, in sworn court documents, that she solicited the money.
Her defense lawyer, Peter Raben, insists the solicitation was lawful and went to benefit the citizens of her district.
``There is no evidence that the purpose of the donation was to influence her vote,'' Raben wrote in earlier court documents. ``The donation was made to the Trust, and neither Commissioner Spence-Jones nor any member of her family received a private financial benefit, either directly or indirectly.''
A judge last month declined to dismiss the bribery charges against her, saying the issue was for a jury to decide.
On Monday, Raben would say only of the grand theft charge: ``I get to hear a jury say `not guilty' twice.''
She also faces an unrelated grand-theft charge stemming from 2005, before she became a commissioner. Prosecutors allege she illegally steered $50,000 in grants to a family-run business while a Miami mayoral aide.

What a mess.  Anyone notice line item #1 on the docket?

Despite the fact that Spence-Jones had several other criminal cases pending, she was still given the courtesy of surrendering herself.  For those of you following our blog, you know how we feel about that subject, even our very own State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle shares our views on the subject of surrendering...
 "She's going to be offered an opportunity, like everyone else, to surrender. Her lawyer has been contacted by our office to see if they want to make that surrender,"
Of course, that makes perfect sense unless you're a morally and ethically challenged assistant state attorney... 
Stay tuned folks, next week is going to get very interesting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's legal cause my lawyer said so!

At least that's what former president George Bush said when asked about the legality of water boarding.  It's all good cause his lawyer said so!  From the MSNBC interview with Matt Lauer...
Former President George W. Bush was asked during an interview last night why he believes waterboarding is legal.

"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."
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. 

Have I lost you yet?  What does waterboarding have to do with mortgage fraud?  Simple, say for instance you're involved in a real estate transaction but want to make some changes to the structure of the deal and the purchase contract but want to be 100% sure that you're on the right side of the law, what do you do?  The smart thing to do would be to consult with an attorney, if the attorney tells you the changes are OK, then it's got to be all good and on the up and up right?  What if the attorney even goes so far as to sign off on the documents that were modified for this real estate transaction?  Certainly it's got to be legal right?  Remember what former President Bush said...
"...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.  

This leaves me completely baffled, the poor people involved in this transaction are seeking the advise of their attorney so they don't get in trouble, in the mean time the attorney is working with the cops in order to get these people arrested.  Seems like a bit of a conflict, doesn't it?  Can anyone guess the name of the prosecutor who's behind this mess?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Have your civil rights been violated lately?

We all remember the Rodney King beating from back in the early '90's right?  Pretty hard to forget watching that poor defenseless man getting the shit beat out of him by several uniformed cops while the cameras were rolling.

This past Halloween we had the displeasure of watching a similar scene unfold here in Coconut Grove, Florida.  Take a look...

Amazing how all those other cops stood by as a small handful repeatedly pummeled the poor guy in the face.  The one thing that all the media outlets keep repeating is how the mans "Civil Rights" were violated by the cops that were beating the crap out of him.  While I don't disagree about the cops violating the suspects "Civil Rights", it wasn't the first thing that popped into my mind while watching the cops going to town on this guy's face.  When I think about "Civil Rights" violations, I think of cops fabricating evidence or prosecutors hiding evidence, I guess at the end of the day whether your getting the shit physically beat out of you by law enforcement or being prosecuted by a dirty cop or prosecutor, it's all the same.

Friday, November 19, 2010

We have readers north of the border and a public information request done right.

It looks like our public information request story from last Friday caught the attention of Bob Norman from the Broward/Palm Beach edition of the New Times, from his article yesterday...
-- 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.
Well, I'm not a governmental entity. After the jump, see how much the PD said it would cost to retrieve those emails.
Answer: $484,218.46.
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.
Brilliant, thanks for the mention Mr. Norman.

Now, we've mentioned Al Crespo of the Crespo-Gram report before, Mr. Crespo seems to  have a much better handle of the Florida Sunshine Law and public information requests than we do.  Recently Mr. Crespo submitted a public information request for emails from City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff's personal email accounts, at first he was turned down then today we're told that he just received 8,533 emails as a result of his public information request.  

What gives?  We ask for what can't be more than a dozen or so emails and are nailed with a nearly $500,000 bill and Mr. Crespo gets 8,533 emails at no cost?  Looks like we're not done with this public information request business and we'll certainly be taking up Mr. Crespo on his his offer on how to submit them and get results.

Till Monday folks, have a great weekend...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Foreclosure fraud super villain David J. Stern defaults on a $12 million dollar loan...

Talk about karma, a unit of the law firm at the heart of the current foreclosure fraud mess, The Law Offices of David J. Stern, specifically DAL Group LLC has defaulted on a $12 million dollar revolving line of credit.  From the Bloomberg story...

Stern's DAL Enters Forbearance Agreement With Bank of America Over Credit

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.
No matter though, David J. Stern seems to be doing fine himself
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...

And his newest acquisition which was rumored to be a 130'+ yacht named "Su Casa Es Mi Casa".  

Oh, the irony of the foreclosure king finding himself in default.  We're waiting on some documents to come in on the Hilda Cardelle case, more tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another mortgage fraud prosecution lead by Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski goes down in flames...

Last December we made mention of the Hilda E. Cardelle mortgage fraud case while we were on a search to find a single mortgage fraud prosecution that ended with jail time.  

As we noted back then, the first charge of mortgage fraud was dropped in less than a month after Ms. Cardelle was charged leaving only the first degree Grand Theft charge...

Based on what we saw on the docket at time, we were lead to believe that the case was going to be plead out, it turns out in fact that the case went to trial and guess what?  Ms Cardelle was acquitted by the court, in other words, the case never made it to jury, the judge dismissed the remaining charge citing lack of evidence of any wrong doing by Ms. Cardelle!  

You have to wonder, how did a case like this make it to trial when the judge herself determined that there was no evidence to prove any wrong doing on the part of the defendant?  Anyone want to guess who the prosecutor was that put this case together?

Oh boy.  We're going to have to take a closer look at this one.  Congratulations to Ms. Cardelle and her defense attorney for bringing another Kostrzewski helmed mess to an end.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Florida Sunshine law, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG JACKASS!

Here in the great state of Florida we have something called the "Sunshine Law", it goes something like this...

The "Sunshine" Law

119.01 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.

This is a fantastic law that opens up the governments files to the public, I've watched over the last several years as several different scandals have unfolded as a result of the people being allowed to go through these public records, most recently, I've watched first hand as Al Crespo of the Crespo-Gram Report has unearthed several sensitive documents regarding the shenanigans at the City of Miami through just such a public information request.  I figure, it's time to make a public records request, I started off by asking for some emails between the lead Detective in the Barrera Mortgage fraud case, Jorge Baluja and the assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case, Bill Kostrzewski.  Here's what I got back...

Ok, I'm a fair person, no one works for free and after all, it'll take a few minutes to go ahead and access the email accounts I requested, search the emails and put them together in a new email or even print them, put them in an envelope and send them out to me, no problem.  So I get to the next page in order to see how much I have to send the county for these records and I get this...


FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED EIGHTEEN DOLLARS AND 46 CENTS?!  I knew things were bad over at the county but HALF A MILLION DOLLARS to produce some emails?  That's just for seven months of emails between a cop and a prosecutor on ONE CASE!  Can you imagine if I asked for two years worth of emails?  Honestly, anyone can do the work required for this public information request in less than 15 minutes, what the hell is going on here?  Looks like it's time to lawyer up!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We present former Florida assistant attorney general Frank J. Ingrassia, our new moron of the week.

Just when you think you've heard it all, of all things, a former assistant attorney general and now foreclosure defense attorney Frank J. Ingrassia forging judges signatures on bogus lawsuit settlements, from the Miami Herald article...

Lawyer accused of forging foreclosure documents

A Coral Springs lawyer is facing three felony charges relating to the alleged forgery of court documents in a foreclosure case.

A Coral Springs lawyer forged the signatures of two Miami-Dade judges while lying to a client about a bogus lawsuit settlement, authorities said Wednesday.
The lawyer, Frank J. Ingrassia, who was working with a disgraced foreclosure rescue company called Outreach Housing, was arrested last week in Broward County and charged with three felonies involving the forgery of court documents.
Ingrassia, who was disbarred last month for the misconduct, drew headlines in 2008 after he began preemptively suing banks for providing allegedly fraudulent mortgages. Aventura businessman William Klein hired Ingrassia to sue his bank after reading a Miami Herald article about the attorney's efforts.
According to an arrest affidavit released Wednesday, Ingrassia presented Klein with paperwork showing a $1 million settlement signed by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maxine Cohen Lando, and a foreclosure dismissal order signed by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ronald Dresnick.
But neither judge had signed any such legal documents, and they were never filed in court, according to an arrest affidavit by Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Michelle Bufalino.
Klein said Ingrassia even recounted to him detailed and ultimately bogus tales of dramatic courtroom hearings. Klein is still engaged in a legal battle to keep his Aventura condo.
Ingrassia ``performed a two-year charade,'' Klein said.
``He set me back to the point where I don't know what my future is going to be. I have to litigate all over again.''
Ingrassia, a former Florida assistant attorney general, did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
The 51-year-old lawyer was arrested after FDLE seized his computer from his Coral Springs office, where the forgeries allegedly took place.
The forgeries appear to be isolated, authorities said.
``At this time, there is no evidence he did this to anyone else,'' said Broward Assistant State Attorney David Schulson, who is prosecuting the case.
Jeeze.  Looks like Frank J. Ingrassia has unseated our former moron of the week, attorney David Alschuler, Mr Ingrassia's behavior definitely takes the cake.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Doing the job that Detective Baluja and Prosecutor Kostrzewski never did, more fun with checks regarding the Barrerra mortgage fraud.

In case you guys haven't noticed, I've become rather obsessed with the Barrera Mortgage fraud case.  I'm not exactly sure why, if nothing else perhaps because of the tremendous amount of ineptitude exhibited by the lead detective that was investigating the case, Jorge Baluja and his master, Assistant State Attorney Bill Kostrzewski.  In their haste to throw together a case we've seen them both break laws, violate people's civil rights, fabricate evidence, etc, yet just when I think I've seen the worst of it, something else pops up and leaves me floored.

A week or so ago, I was rereading the original arrest affidavit that was signed by Detective Baluja and I believe authored by none other that ASA Kostrzewski when I came across this bit...

That part about no payments being made that I underlined in red really seemed strange to me...
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.

So where did that leave me?  Well, the first step was to go through all the case files again and see if there was any evidence of payments being made on the Barrera mortgage for the home located at 3390 Oak Avenue, no dice.  In fact everything in the files suggested that there had never been a single payment made which jives with what the state had presented.  Something still didn't seem right to me though.  My next step was to figure out a way to get access to records from Citibank aka Citimortgage which funded the loan in the Barrera mortgage fraud.  I realized that I had a Citibank Visa card so I went down to my local Citibank branch and decided to talk to someone in customer service, after befriending an employee at the bank, I asked whether or not they could answer some questions for me regarding a home mortgage that was in default.  Before we start, let's take a look at the good faith estimate for that mortgage to refresh our memories...

Bernardo Barrera Good Faith Estimate From Citi Mortgage for Oak Avenue Home

There you have it, the good faith estimate for the home located at 3390 Oak Avenue which was financed by CitiMortgage loan number 002005062091 with a mortgage payment of $2,900 without escrows and $2,979.58 with escrows for Hazard insurance, the same house that was at the center of the Barrera Mortgage fraud case.  So the lovely young customer service rep tells me she'll get back to me in a few days if she finds any information regarding the payment history of this loan, lo and behold a few days later I get these three gems via email...

Would you look at that?  Those three checks total $2,900 which just happens to be the amount of the mortgage payment for the Oak Avenue home's mortgage and all three check numbers have the handwritten loan number on them the matches the loan number for the Oak Avenue's home mortgage.  What a coincidence? 

The question that I'm left with after discovering the existence of these checks is WHY THE FUCK AM I DOING THE WORK THAT THE STATE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO?  If indeed the states goal was to find the man who "allegedly" stole Bernardo Barrera's identity for the commission of this crime, then why didn't the state obtain this critical evidence which would have lead directly to the people behind this case of grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and identity theft?!

For fucks sake Detective Dipshit, I'm some jackass with a blog on the last page of the internet and I've done a better job investigating this case than you have.  Detective Baluja and ASA Kostrzewski, are you going to make me go to the bank and get the surveillance videos and find out who purchased these checks as well or do you guys think you can handle that?!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More on that critical evidence we discussed last week, did the state have that check in their possession or not?

We left off last week discussing a critical piece of evidence that the state used to manipulate their key in the Barrera mortgage fraud case.  Rather than show their key witness, the witness whose highly manufactured testimony was used as the cornerstone of the states case, a copy of a cashiers check with the witnesses handwriting all over it, the state chose to present the witness with a clean copy of the cashier check as it was given to them by the issuing bank.  We also commented how there were startling similarities between the way this key piece of evidence was handled and how the state handled a similar piece of evidence in the Michelle Spence-Jones case.  In both instances a key witness wasn't shown copies of documents that had their handwriting on it, in the Spence-Jones case we gave the prosecutor and the police the benefit of the doubt and attributed this oversight to the document in question being buried in the voluminous case file, but what about the cashiers check in the Barrera mortgage fraud case that we've made such a stink about?  The same cashiers check that the state showed their key witness who then supposedly said after seeing said check:
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.
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.  

The question that begs to be asked then is why did the Prosecutor Kostrzewski and lead Detective Jorge Baluja show the witness this copy of the check knowing that the testimony wouldn't be reliable?  Perhaps the state didn't have a copy of the check with the witnesses handwriting?  Maybe it was buried in the case file like the Carey-Shuler letter in the Spence-Jones case?  Or maybe they had the check with the handwriting all along and chose not to use it?  That would be pretty shitty now wouldn't it?

Enough with the games, let's take a look at what Detective Jorge Baluja tells us during one of his depositions regarding said check...

No kidding?  The good detective tells us during this deposition that months before the arrests were made he couldn't find a copy of the check in his file (more like he didn't feel like going through the file) and he asked the attorney he arrested to fax him over a copy of the check as it appeared in her file, in essence he's admitting that he's had a copy of the check with his star witnesses handwriting on it for months before he made the arrests in the Barrera mortgage fraud case.  If that's the case then why the hell did the state use the clean copy of the check to influence their witnesses testimony?  Wasn't it bad enough that the state scared the shit out of the witness before she gave her statement, now to add insult to injury they show her evidence that they KNOW IS DEFECTIVE!  

The question that remains is why.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We've arrived at a new low in the real estate meltdown...

Just when you thought you've heard everything, now we have foreclosure defense attorneys putting second mortgages on homes that are in foreclosure.  From the New York Times article...
Taking 2nd Mortgage to Pay the Foreclosure Lawyer  

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.’ ”

Fantastic.  They'll put a second mortgage on your home but if you don't pay  they say:

“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?!

This can't be right.  I've been hearing about these types of deals where the lawyers tell you "don't pay your mortgage, pay me $____ per month and I'll keep you in your house."  Can this possibly be legal? 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Coincidence or a disturbing pattern of behavior regarding prosecutors handling of sensitive and perhaps exculpatory evidence.

Over the last few weeks we've discussed in detail how the the prosecutor and police detectives responsible for the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud prosecution sat on sensitive evidence which would have radically changed the way their key witness testified against the people who were ultimately charged.  This key witness was shown a clean copy of a cashiers check that was used as the down payment for the purchase of the home at the center of the alleged identity theft and mortgage fraud, a copy from the bank that issued the check...

The witness after being mirandized and scared shitless by the detective and the prosecutor tells them what they want to hear after being confronted by this check, she tells them that she had never seen the check before.  Months later after the arrests were made, this same witness was shown a second copy of the same check during a deposition...

After seeing this copy of the check with her handwriting her memory is suddenly jarred and she remembers handling the check as well as processing it.  Funny how testimony has a way of changing when your not under threat of being arrested and the fact that your handwriting is all over the check!

Our contention is that the State Attorneys Office and the Miami Dade County Police Department have had a copy of the check with the handwriting all over it since day one but chose not to show the witness the check on purpose.  Does any of this ring a bell for our readers?  Does this scenario sound vaguely familiar?  Everyone remember the Michelle Spence-Jones case right?  At the heart of the states allegations against Spence-Jones was that she forged a letter from Barbara Carey-Shuler authorizing the release of $50,000 to Spence-Jones, when Carey-Shuler was shown a copy of the letter she told prosecutors that she had not written it or signed it, here's a copy of that letter as it was shown to her by the state...

Damn!  But then months later, the states key witness against Michelle Spence-Jones, Barbara Carey-Shuler, is shown another copy of that damning letter that she said she never wrote or signed during a deposition...

Coincidentally this copy of the letter has Carey-Shuler's handwriting all over it.  After being shown this copy of the letter, Spence-Jones defense attorney Peter Raben asks...
"Whose handwriting is that?" Raben asked Carey-Shuler. "It's mine," she replied. 
When Raben quizzed her if the final version -- the one prosecutors alleged was a forgery -- was "genuine," Carey-Shuler said: "That's correct."
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.

So what about prosecutor Kostrzewski and Detective Baluja not showing their star witness in the Barrera mortgage fraud case the copy of the cashiers check with her handwriting all over it?  Unfortunate mistake or an intentional manipulation of the evidence and coercing their witness to say what they needed her to say?  Perhaps the second copy of the check with the witnesses handwriting all over it was buried in some box in the state attorneys office?  Perhaps they never had a copy of the check with the handwriting until after the arrests were made?  Or maybe they had a copy of the check with the handwriting all over it faxed over to them before the arrests were made and they conveniently decided to bury it so they could make their bullshit case and affect the arrests?  YIKES!  I can only imagine what the repercussions of something like that could be.  God forbid something like that actually happened...

So what do you think about these strange instances of key evidence being omitted from the states star witnesses when the states putting together a case?  Coincidence or just another day for a corrupt, inept morally and ethically challenged prosecutor? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It only costs $70,000,000 to become governor...

Let's get to work I guess.

Is this the best we could do? I guess it's only fitting that the man whose company was responsible for the biggest Medicare fraud in history gets elected FloriDUH's governor.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Get out and VOTE! Possibly the greatest campaign ad ever.

I can't say that I'm too happy about the way things look here on the eve of election day for some of our local politicians.  Regardless of our governor's sexual orientation, I really don't think he's that bad of a guy, in fact, I've met him several times, click here for a photograph of me and governor Charlie Crist.  If the polls are correct, it looks like the orange man has no chance against republican Marco Rubio.  Oh well. 

Keeping with the election day theme, take a look at what I think is the best campaign ad ever created by Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz's opponent.  Simply brilliant.

Sam Katz Not For Mayor

Now, you aren't going to vote for a guy who kicks kids in the face now are you?