Keep Maryland Attorneys Accountable
My thought was that Maryland attorneys were and would be held to the highest standards of conduct that are possible to enforce. After all, Marylanders know that their state is one of the most stringently regulated in The Union. Sometimes we as ordinary Marylanders have been greatly prohibited beyond the restrictions set for citizens in most other jurisdictions; or have been harshly penalized after unwittingly committing minor violations (with the State’s response in and to our MVA / Traffic regulations as a prime example). However, it was known that we could count on Maryland to keep things on the level for all of its people… I hope I wasn’t wrong. This proposal / petition comes from what occurred in the would be foreclosure of my mother’s house. Ocwen Financial Corporation, the mortgage loan servicer for HSBC Bank, and their foreclosure-driven law firm, McCabe Weisberg and Conway, LLC, did every thing that I count as being negligent, unethical and downright despicable in handling Mom’s case. McCabe or Ms. Bush, their staff lawyer, claimed in March of this year, 2016, that they weren’t aware that Mom had legal representation through her MD HOPE Program attorney; though that gentleman was still actively working on her behalf and has been on retainer since 2010. McCabe’s / Ms. Bush’s excuse for its oversight was that the case was new to them, having recently been handed over by another infamous law firm, Friedman & MacFadyen, P.A., who was shut down for its mishandling of documents in the Litton Loan Servicing scandal. My mother’s records clearly indicate that McCabe has had her file since March 2015. All of what was just said came to our attention for the fact that Ms. Bush contacted my mother’s attorney only, and not her, on the 29th of March, via e-mail only, to inform him of a foreclosure / judicial sale which was scheduled to take place on the 26th of April! My mother and I nearly lost our minds. Her house was scheduled to be sold out from under her on the courthouse steps less than a month after she was notified of the sale. McCabe claimed that a formal letter was sent earlier but has presented no proofs of a Certified Mailing. They had to reluctantly concede to the fact that there was an authorized Loss Mitigation Affidavit from Ocwen for the said negotiation to be held. Ms. Bush had its date set for April the 29th. We in the meantime scrambled to find anything that could defend Mom’s claim to her house. The Loss Mitigation Affidavit was found - to counter Ms. Bush’s certified claim that no Loss Mitigation was requested. Ocwen’s acknowledgement of the house being occupied, which was dated for 5/5/15, was found - to counter Ms. Bush’s court-filed, 7/27/15 claim that the house was unoccupied “to the best of [her] knowledge”. (We’ve been in the house continually for many, many years. She had only to swing by after coming from her office [just 4 miles down the street] to make sure.) Later down the line the Court record for the case was found to state that a posting for the foreclosure action itself (not the judicial sale, a separate action which typically occurs months later) was left on the front door on or about September 29, 2015. That posting was actually made on August the 4th; and can be attested to by Mom’s lawyer. In addition, Ms. Bush and / or McCabe’s appointed process server submitted an assessment of the house that made in the least a very ambiguous if not inaccurate physical description. For all we know certain assertions made could have involved another house on the same street. During the following ADR-style (Alternative Dispute Resolution / Backroom) hearing we were barred from submitting any evidence which would stay the foreclosure. (It was made clear that such was just about finding a speedy way to dispose of the house.) Then a conference call was placed with Ocwen by Ms. Bush. She then attempted to pimp a bogus HAMP loan “offer” whose payments exceed that of the previous Subprime loan taken; which my mother in her despair almost agreed to. (Another issue with that HAMP is that it’s the first and only one tendered to my mother in this years-long process - and came after being drafted on February 19, 2016; just a short time before the then scheduled closing of the entire HAMP program on April the 1st.) Ms. Bush, the Ocwen rep, and the judge went on and on about how “[they] would love it if [their] loans were refinanced at 3 ½%”. Again, the supposed re-factoring at 3 ½% was no better than the 8 ½% to 10+% range on my mother’s original interest-first ARM loan, which was drafted by Fieldstone Mortgage Company before it hit the skids. Ms. Bush being the lead attorney for McCabe in this case had to know better. After a bit of disputing between Mom and me, she was finally convinced to take a short sale. Just as she moved to declare her choice Ms. Bush abruptly cut her off, quickly shooting to her that she had 5 days to make her final decision; and with that the hearing was promptly shut down. Mom submitted her decision in writing, as requested, on time through her attorney who couriered it directly to McCabe’s offices. Later a notice from McCabe was received with an Order of the Court attached, which declared that no resolution was reached during the hearing, thus the foreclosure sale would be re-launched for June 21st. If it wasn’t for the action of the broker-salesperson we hired to handle the short sale, my mother might be out on her ear right now. The broker called HSBC directly to inform them that a cash offer was received and currently under contract. We are sure of that being the only cause for McCabe backing off. And a curious thing about the aforementioned Order of the Court - it lists O’Sullivan (an obscure alias of McCabe’s) as the plaintiff instead of HSBC or Ocwen; and doesn’t list McCabe as Ms. Bush’s firm. Also, the judge’s signature is completely illegible and does not bear his or her typed name under the signature blank. A lesser issue, but one that disturbs us, is the inappropriate presence of my mother’s attorney-of-record for her bankruptcy case (which was largely the result of fraud committed against her by her ex-husband). Ms. Theologou, after being a staunch advocate for my mother and hearing all of her sensitive confessions about the trouble with her ex, took several positions with other firms shortly afterward which would put her at direct odds with my mother in her foreclosure proceedings. In fact she was once practice manger of McCabe after leaving the firm that handled the bankruptcy; and is named as one of Ocwen’s substitute trustees. If not for the availability of Ms. Bush or the other Ocwen counsel, Ms. Theologou could have been assigned. We don’t know what she might have communicated to McCabe or Ocwen that could give them undue leverage. Even if an unfair advantage wasn’t given by that - it’s still a rude awakening to find your old attorney on the team going against you to take away a house that the same attorney worked to save. Ironically Ms. Theologou was the very first person to file a Stay of Foreclosure on Mom’s house. Ocwen’s recent response to the issue with Ms. Theologou, as posted on the relay at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website was, “Regarding your claims regarding the firm of McCabe Weisberg & Conway, LLC, although it was determined that there was no legitimate conflict of interest. The attorney in question represented you in a brief bankruptcy case that was closed by the court in 2003. The account did not originate until 2005, two years after the case was closed.” Enough said about the quality of this response! When complaining to the Attorney Grievance Commission about the conflict of interest, it wasn’t our intention (and certainly not our solid expectation) that anyone be disbarred or even suspended. We just wanted an official reprimand issued as a caution - like a citation is issued as a warning ticket to motorists. While I appreciate the Attorney Grievance Commission’s good work on many vital concerns; and understand why it would be reluctant to sock it to everybody indiscriminately, their decision was still disappointing. It is our proposal that the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission make its case files available for public inspection, as the U.S. Government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does, provided that the complainants’ permission is granted, and provided that the names of the complainants, and the attorneys and law firms who could not be cited for misconduct are redacted. This would help the public be aware of the most current and prevalent legal issues that affect them; and how to avoid fraud and other abuses. Thank you for your consideration. TO BE SUBMITTED TO: GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR BOYD K. RUTHERFORD, CONGRESSMAN STENY HOYER, THE MARYLAND STATE SENATE AND THE MARYLAND HOUSE OF DELEGATES.
Stop Fraudulent Foreclosures in Maryland Now!
If you're in foreclosure in Maryland your ability to keep your home is on the line - even if you've bounced back financially and are ready to pay the full debt. Why? It's primarily because of Ocwen Financial Corporation, the loan servicer for countless mortgage companies, and the ethically-challenged group of lawyers at foreclosure-driven mega-firm, McCabe, Weisberg and Conway, LLC... And the current rules in place in our State don't help us a lot, but do aid them even more. A series of undue denials, late notices, false reports, a fake HAMP offer and coercive tactics designed to rush things nearly caused my mother to lose her house in the outright. She reluctantly took a short sale which they also tried to squash. Though Ocwen is the one who starts it, McCabe will finish it like The Terminator. Both firms seem to have their very own agenda that often differs entirely from what the banks would want. Ocwen appears to need to dispose of cases as rapidly as possible, despite how that occurs, in order to get on to the next one... and McCabe as stated before is a foreclosure firm. It dis-services DC, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York as well. They may be paid by the "per instance" model, which would mean that they're only paid for those cases they complete action on. That would incentivize foreclosing just for the sake of it. In the formal petition to be presented to the legislature is only a partial description of the craziness that went on. Another petition to be filed on attorney conduct will explore it a bit more. Both offer specific, common-sense solutions to combat particular abuses of the system. Thank you for reviewing this petition. If you're not from Maryland, signing it may still help stop unlawful foreclosures in your state as they usually take notes from each other on major issues. Also, if your case involves found misconduct or perceived misconduct on Ocwen's or McCabe's part, you are asked to submit your file to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/#mortgage . This agency of the Federal Government will send the report on to all the other relevant Federal agencies. Marylanders should immediately place their cases with the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/finance/consumers/comphow.shtml If there are especially serious concerns with the conduct of the lead attorney assigned by McCabe, please put those to your state's attorney grievance commission. SEE THIS LINK FOR THE FORMAL PETITION - https://www.scribd.com/doc/316850986/Maryland-Forescloure-Rules-Petition A Synopsis of It: * A demand for an automatic interim stay of foreclosure for those borrowers who are actively engaged in a valid short sale. * Fifteen days notice for a foreclosure sale given to the borrower (as with eviction notices) instead of just ten days worth. * Full disclosure on who's actually involved in launching the foreclosure-related action * Certifiably accurate reporting on the property in dispute with its proper physical description, occupancy status and accurate dates for related actions taken. * A complete ban of the particular quota scheme or "pay-per-instance" system by which foreclosure law firms are paid. * No deficiency judgements on borrowers on subprime loans, families with minor children or adult disabled children, or elderly borrowers at or above 70 years of age, or their younger spouses. * Real HAMP offers that must be tendered on a timely basis and allow for at least a 31% reduction on the highest installment paid on the previous loan. * The right to file for a Loss Mitigation Hearing directly with the courts instead of doing so through the lender. * The right of the borrower to have Loss Mitigation arguments heard / evidence seen at trial (instead of being barred from doing so in the ADR setting) if a pre-trial case review warrants such. * A written and verbal pre-hearing explanation of foreclosure-related procedure tendered to / read to the borrower or his / her representative(s) which was prepared by the State's Attorney General Office's Consumer Protection Division. * An audio recording of the Loss Mitigation Hearing to keep all parties accountable for their statements and general conduct. ( The photo above is taken from this article - http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/foreclosure-nightmare-isnt-over-yet )