Hmmm, I wonder where else this happens??? /sarcasm

Thousands of Pennsylvania Foreclosures Could Be on Shaky Ground

Two Pennsylvania cases, one state and one federal, have exposed new types of document problems in foreclosure cases. One of the cases has potentially transformative consequences for thousands of troubled Pennsylvania homeowners. At the center of each is the same law firm: Goldbeck McCafferty & McKeever (GMM).

A lawsuit filed by Patrick Loughren against GMM details how the firm allowed — and perhaps still allows — nonlawyers in its firm to file and prosecute thousands of foreclosures.

Kimberly A. Robinson v Countrywide Home Loans, BAC

As long as a lawyer supervises foreclosure filings, and at least reads them before they’re submitted to the court, that is acceptable. But Loughren is suing because all three named partners of GMM, Joseph Goldbeck, Gary McCafferty and Michael McKeever, have admitted under oath — during depositions last September and in a separate case in December 2009 — that no attorney ever read the filings. The partners made clear that the practice has gone on for the past several years.

Video – Attorney Signatures – The Next Fraud Battle Ground

Posted by Foreclosure Fraud on October 2, 2010 ·

Foreclosure Deposition Clip Witness = Goldbeck, McCafferty & McKeever corporate designee pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) Date = 9/21/10 Individual sitting as the designee = Gary McCafferty Trial Lawyer = Patrick J. Loughren Well well well… The video above is an actual deposition where an attorney just recently admitted to frauds we … Read more

Foreclosure Deposition Clip

More examples from Matt Weidner’s Blog for another perspective…

Attorney Signatures – The Next Fraud Battle Ground

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedures require that all pleadings filed in a case be signed by a licensed Florida attorney.  I have started to examine files and am becoming increasingly suspicious that this important rule is not being followed by the foreclosure mills.

I am therefore starting to examine all my pleadings closely and I encourage each of you to do the same.  Ultimately I would like to build a database of these signatures to compare, so for those of you out there that are spending time looking at court filings, please start examining the signatures and making a cut and past document similar to the one I attach below.

My first example of gross irregularities in the signature of an attorney who makes filings in a court case comes from Ohio.  The document was prepared by a reader of this blog and it comes from an Ohio foreclosure mill attorney.  Please look at the sheet. There really is no commentary necessary regarding whether these were signed by the same person….

Given what we know about the foreclosure mills and their operations (particularly the offshore components of their practice) I cannot imagine that they are following this rule. (I mean the violate every other rule)

Foreclosure Fraud – Attorney Signatures – The Next Battle Ground

You can read more about Matt’s excellent work here…

Next up, Patrick J. Loughren’s Complaint in Equity

Patrick J. Loughren Complaint in Equity

Far-Reaching Consequences

Loughren declined to talk with DailyFinance (nor would he even give us the complaint, which is electronically available from the court), and as of now, GMM hasn’t returned our calls either. (We learned of the case from Walter Roche’s story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.) But Loughren’s complaint is so detailed, and the partners’ admissions so damning, that if this case is decided on the merits, it’s hard to see how Loughren could lose.

If Loughren does win, the consequences could be far-reaching: All current foreclosure actions filed by GMM could be dismissed on the grounds that lawsuits filed by nonlawyers are a “nullity,” meaning they don’t count. That’s hundreds, potentially thousands, of cases across Pennsylvania.

All completed foreclosures that were brought using this method could also be called into question for the same reason, and given that the practice has been going on for years, a Loughren win could throw into question the title to thousands of Pennsylvania properties. In addition, any homeowners who paid legal fees to the banks and GMM during their foreclosures could get that money back.

Bank of America Knew

Loughren notes that in both cases involving the partners’ testimony about the practice, Bank of America (BAC) was the foreclosing bank. It was actually present during the December 2009 trial when the admissions were first made. Loughren points out that BofA’s representative at that trial, John Smith, is himself a lawyer, and so presumably understood the legal significance of GMM’s admission.

Other BofA employees surely learned about the practice too, given that the December case was an effort by the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee to sanction both the bank and GMM for misconduct, and evidence submitted for it showed the involvement of “high-ranking” BofA people not normally involved in a foreclosure, such as its assistant general counsel.

Although the practice of having nonlawyers file suit wasn’t at issue in that case, learning of it upset U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Thomas Agresti so much he wrote in his Oct. 5, 2010 order:

“During the trial the Court also became aware of some apparently routine practices at GMM that raise issues that cannot be ignored. McKeever testified to a procedure at his firm whereby foreclosure complaints are prepared and filed by non-attorneys and never reviewed by an attorney, even though the “signature” of an attorney appears on the document. . . . Even though these actions are not being filed in this Court. . .concern for our sister courts in this Commonwealth compel the Court to at least make publicly known what it learned during the trial. Furthermore, often these fundamentally flawed foreclosure actions, form the basis for related relief in this Court should the state court defendant subsequently file a bankruptcy petition. Therefore, the Court is concerned about the continuation of this practice by GMM.”

Return of “Legal” Fees

In a related Nov. 24, 2010 order, the judge noted that although two of GMM’s clients temporarily suspended working with the law firm, Bank of America did not. Even though the bank learned that GMM’s practices could be jeopardizing many of its foreclosures, the bank continued to work with the firm and pocket related foreclosure fees, at least as of Nov. 24.

Sharon Diane Hill, Roberta A. DeAngelis v Countrywide Sanctions Order

Full article from DailyFinance:

Looks like someone got some splainin to do…