Front Page Palm Beach Post – “Deadbeat” Gets Revenge

Brandon Kruse/Palm Beach Post
Lisa Epstein talks with guests at E.R. Bradley’s Thursday afternoon, October 14, 2010, during a meeting of the Foreclosure Hamlet. Epstein is a local nurse who started the monthly happy hour group for people dealing with foreclosure to talk to one another and to speak with lawyers about their case.

By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH — This deadbeat took on Wall Street, and Wall Street was cowed.

Lisa Epstein, a 45-year-old cancer nurse, mother to a 3-year-old girl, and prolific blogger, has spent the past year growing a grass-roots foreclosure-fighting coalition that is partly credited with forcing the nation’s largest banks to take a step back and review their home repossession machines.

She got tangled in the system herself when she was served with foreclosure papers last year, lost her top credit rating and was slapped with the deadbeat label.

But along with fellow local blogger Michael Redman, 35, Epstein fought the machine. The duo have combed through Palm Beach County court records; posted suspicious foreclosure affidavits online; written to judges, politicians and attorneys; and attracted a rock-star-like following of thousands nationwide.

The mounting evidence found by the group of citizen investigators couldn’t be ignored, and by late September the nation’s colossal financial institutions were on the spot to explain and fix their faulty foreclosure efforts.

“We used to be the wacko fringe; now we’re cutting-edge,” Epstein said. “Finally, my questions are being asked by reporters and attorney generals nationwide.”

Each month, Epstein draws a small crowd to her Foreclosure Hamlet happy hour at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon.

Divorced, sick, laid-off or self-employed in an economy on the rocks, attendees gather for support and to share information, attracted by a feisty nurse in a cute pink scarf who refuses to surrender.

Chris Immel, an attorney with the foreclosure defense firm Ice Legal in Royal Palm Beach, said Epstein has been instrumental in providing information and evidence to the public so people could fight on their own. As more people have challenged the allegedly forged signatures, backdated documents and questions of loan ownership, it’s been harder to sweep the issues under the rug.

“She went in and looked at individual cases, spent time in the courtroom and courthouse reviewing the files, and she provided the knowledge,” Immel said.

In September, Ally Financial Inc., formerly GMAC, said it was freezing foreclosure evictions and sales after depositions of an employee were widely circulated in which he admitted to signing off on 10,000 foreclosure affidavits a month and swearing to personal knowledge on each.

Using so-called “robo-signers” was an industry practice, some experts have said. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Litton Home Loan Servicing and PNC Financial Services Group soon followed Ally’s lead.

Bank of America announced Monday it was restarting foreclosures in 23 states, including Florida, and will resubmit affidavits where necessary.

Epstein’s road from full-time nurse to foreclosure fighter began when she started hearing her cancer patients talk about their mortgage woes.

In the summer of 2009, a patient with brain cancer was being evicted from her home. Epstein examined the court records and found that the foreclosure was scheduled for a summary judgment hearing – a quickie court trial requested when the banks argue that the foreclosure facts are irrefutable.

Epstein helped the woman write a letter to read to the judge and went to court with the woman on her lunch break. Neither could determine the true owner of the woman’s loan, and when the bank’s attorneys didn’t show up at the hearing, the judge canceled the summary judgment.

“I believe nobody, and I mean nobody, knows who owns what anymore,” Epstein said. “We as borrowers didn’t create that situation.”

When Epstein found herself unable to get a loan modification on a condo she was trying to sell but couldn’t, she ended up in foreclosure. Her 800 credit score tumbled.

She said she started hanging out at the courthouse, talking to attorneys, sifting through foreclosure filings and sitting in on trials.

Oddly, she said she was an introvert before her foreclosure – so quiet, she joked, that she was afraid her daughter wouldn’t learn to talk.

But in October 2009, she started A month later, she held her first foreclosure happy hour.

“This has been an amazing amount of support for me, and knowledge,” said Jensen Beach resident Nicole West, who said she was “bait and switched” into a predatory loan that she can no longer afford.

“The banks beat you up for so long that you want to just give up,” said West, who attended Thursday’s happy hour. “But these people here, they are a very rare breed who are willing to fight.”

Redman, who runs, got involved in researching court documents when a family member went into foreclosure.

“I started looking into the public record and none of it was adding up,” he said. “I’m a very logical thinker and nothing about this was logical.”

Redman and Epstein have left their full-time jobs to focus on the foreclosure fight. Redman, previously an online automobile consultant, gets some support for his website from  a foreclosure defense attorney. Epstein expects to go back to full-time nursing soon.

Although last week’s happy hour was the first since the banks began reviewing their foreclosure work, Epstein said she didn’t feel triumphant.

“This is a devastation to the whole of America’s economy,” she said. “Yet they’ve made us feel marginalized. I’m as reliable as I was before the foreclosure, but my credit score now says I’m a deadbeat.”

Now get over to the post and get involved in the comment section…

Too much “Deadbeat” bashing going on…

Let’s educate them…

Click here to post a comment…


5 Responses to “Front Page Palm Beach Post – “Deadbeat” Gets Revenge”
  1. incognito123 says:

    There is still LOTS, but thanks to many in this battle, we are gaining SOME ground – but we need to TAKE BACK AMERICA!!! Thanks Mike & Lisa for all your hard work!! ANd the many others that have helped me along the way including James M, Pirates, StopGOVwaste, Walt, Ron, and many others that have been a tremendous help!!

  2. RAMONA says:

    When the top doesn’t abide by the “Rule of Law”, then why are we..”THE DEADBEATS” abiding by the law? Who is really civilized here?

  3. PJ says:

    Congrat’s to you both… 4CF &FH!

  4. Anonymous Atlanta says:

    “I am a Dead Beat Home Owner” (not), 22 years in Dec. 12, 2010, (purchased home place in 1998 with a long line of ownership dating back to 1832.) Father of 3 adult children, former small business owner, credit score 798 average from the big (3) prior to entering in to a contract with Countrywide. Yes this started in 2005 just after Katrina, property values around my property resembled a flight path of a big plane as it was taking off the run way, on its way to an altitude of 30000 feet? Now I have done my part as a revolutionary citizen, the only way to fight the bank is cash flow,
    so since my credit score no longer allows me to get credit, something amazing happened I realized that if I stop paying all the creditors, the call me every day, and the 3rd party collectors well I have that routed through “Vonage” all callers that call and leave a message go directly to my “e-mail, no more ringing in the back ground, I also changed my cell # it is nice and quite around here now a days. 13 accounts my C report looks like I either drove off a cliff or hit a concrete wall, never late, (NL) (NL) (NL) (NL) etc. ect. Now I know that after the 25th of this month something is going to happen, I wonder if someone knows the proper procedure for filing a Quite Title Action in a State Court? My Fed. law suit was “Dismissed with Prejudice” and it would be futile to appeal based on the facts, never got to a hearing and a disclosure that has a signature similar to mine with a date that had nothing to do with the closing of the loan was the last thing filed by Defendant Atty for CW filed in a Fed. Court. Case Terminated, however there is some meat still there, or I would not have had the final order as it is. more on this later..

  5. MisterKeitel says:

    This is an amazing story. You guys should be on 60 Minutes. It amazes me that it was not a goverment regulartor that uncoverd and prosecuted this. They are all in bed with bank lobbyests. I was not an investigave jounalist who uncovered this. They are satisfied with the status quo (because they are OWNED by the status que). But it was just some regular people. At first they were seen as fringe people. Like they were UFOers. They had no big money backing (like the Tea Party). They are just regular people who have been wronged. Right now President Obama (who I supported, voted for, campaing volunteered for) is only giving half hearted verbal support to this issue. I suspect that after the Nov 2nd elections Congress will pass some terrible retroactive bill that lets these banks all off the hook. But what happens then. I mean, then we’ve crossed over from the old Rule Of Law into someth new realm of (what David Frumm called) “rough justice” where the old way of using old laws based on state and federal constitutions will be abandoned and we can just make up laws as we go along. And, even more fundemental than that, regulare law abiding, hard working people like man and you will no longer trust that the government and law is fair, just and is looking out for them. When we get into that world with the Authority of Law cease to be? Will government still be able to govern? Will it then be the Wild West? An anarchists dream world? Will it them be up to little people to make their own rules?

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