I oft times say “The oddities are odder with every other day.” This is a case of one of the odder oddities. One, that like the universe unfolding, is expanding in oddness. One that deserves an expansion of outrage.
The most recent development caught my eye in a short piece from Matt Weidner: Are the Banksters Powerful Enough To Make Legislation Disappear?. It caught his eye on popular blog site 4ClosureFraud. It caught their eye in an article posted to blog site “The Impode-O-Meter” by author Mandelman Matters.
At the core of the shocking new development is a bill, “State Senate Bill 1259? proposed by Arizona State Senator Michele Reagan:
“If you foreclose on somebody you should have to tell them who owns the property. People have the right in this country to face their accusers.”
In response to her bill the Arizona Banker’s Association threatened:
“If Arizona passes this, it will be the only state in the union that will require a production of chain of title. States that pass these types of laws will be riskier environments to lend in and more difficult environments to get a loan in.”
Apparently proving chain of title and that they actually own the homes they foreclose upon must be too onerous a requirement for major banks and servicers foreclosing on Arizona homes!
Before delving further, let me recap from my own writings. In March of 2010 Arizona State Senator Michele Reagan was sued by her lender, Colonial Savings Bank, simply for asking, who owned her note! I included the video in notes to Episode IV in my “Tale of Greed”.
Fast forwarding a year we find that Colonial Savings Bank was shuttered by the FDIC, having been wrapped up in fraudulent actions by executives at Taylor, Bean and Whitaker. The notes included under Episode IV: D-I-S-C-O-V-E-R-Y in a Nevada Desert goes into some detail of revelations in the trial of Taylor, Bean CEO Lee Farkas. In only the past week he was found guilty – on all 14 counts – of a $1.9 Billion fraud scheme! All of the other executives plead guilty without going to trial.
Here a few highlights:
According to a statement of facts submitted with his plea agreement, Allen joined TBW in 2003 as its CEO and reported directly to its chairman. He admitted in court that from 2005 through August 2009, he and other co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud financial institutions that had invested in a wholly owned lending facility called Ocala Funding. Ocala Funding raised money by selling asset-backed commercial paper to financial institutions, including Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas, and used the money to purchase TBW mortgages. The facility was managed by TBW and had no employees of its own.
According to court records, shortly after Ocala Funding was established, Allen learned there were inadequate assets backing its commercial paper, a deficiency referred to internally at TBW as a “hole” in Ocala Funding. Allen admitted that in an effort to cover up the hole and to mislead investors, he told a co-conspirator to produce reports that concealed the hole. He also admitted that he knew that these misleading reports were sent to Ocala Funding investors and other third parties.
Allen also admitted in court that he kept the chairman of TBW informed of the collateral shortfall, and that in the fall of 2008, Allen was told that the hole had been moved from Ocala Funding to Colonial Bank. At the time that TBW ceased operations, the hole was approximately $1.5 billion. According to court documents, as a result of the Ocala Funding fraud scheme, Freddie Mac, Colonial Bank, and Ocala Funding investors believed they had an undivided ownership interest in thousands of the same mortgage loans.
Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp.’s former chairman, Lee Farkas, ordered data sent to Colonial Bank for nonexistent loans in an effort to cover up the company’s growing deficits, a company ex-president said.
Raymond Bowman, 45, testifying yesterday for the government in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, said Farkas in 2003 explained that the sale of “dummy” loans, known as Plan B, were necessary to prevent Taylor Bean from going out of business.
I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea, said Bowman, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy and to making false statements. Bowman said he thought the plan was unethical and possibly illegal.
By December 2003, Taylor Bean was overdrawing its account by about $150 million a day, the SEC said.
Bowman said “Plan B” was put into place by Farkas and Catherine Kissick, head of Colonial Bank’s Mortgage Warehouse Lending Division.
“Lee said we had two options,” Bowman testified. “Not do it and shut the company down. Cathy would lose her job and probably go to jail. Or, borrow money through Plan B, pay her back, and move forward.”
Desiree Brown, former treasurer of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, the mortgage lender allegedly behind the August 2009 collapse of Colonial Bank, pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to commit bank, wire and securities fraud. Federal investigators linked TBW to a $1.9 billion scheme that defrauded the Federal Housing Administration, private investors and the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Montgomery, Ala.-based Colonial Bank ($25 billion in assets) was TBW’s biggest lender.
Brown, 45, of Hernando, Fla., could face up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced June 10 by a U.S. District Court in Virginia. And more charges are expected from a separate enforcement action filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against Brown.
The fate of Lee Farkas, once at the helm of TBW, remains to be determined. Farkas’ criminal trial began April 4 in Virginia. Farkas has pleaded not guilty to the 14 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud brought against him last year for his connection to TBW scheme.
As the former senior executive officer with Freddie Mac, Paul R. Allen joined the Ocala-based company initially as a consultant, eventually migrating over as the full-time CEO in charge of all company operations in August 2003.
As prosecutors began laying out his direct examination testimony for the jury Monday afternoon, Allen, 55, touched on the often grand promises extended by Lee Farkas, the company’s chairman, during his six-year run with the residential mortgage lender until it ceased all lending operations in August 2009 and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
For instance, when Farkas was leading a $300 million capital raise for Colonial BancGroup Inc. in 2009 so the bank could meet conditional approval for $550 million in TARP bailout funds, Allen said Farkas offered him a $5 million equity bonus that he could use to buy Colonial stock.
That figure stood out because in an average year, a typical bonus for him was about $100,000, said the former CEO. The TARP deal never went through and Allen never received that promised $5 million bonus.
On his part, Allen said he concealed the existence of this collateral shortfall on the monthly reports sent to credit rating agencies like Moody’s Investors. Established in April 2005, Ocala Funding sold commercial paper to investors to generate additional funding for Taylor Bean to originate and service residential mortgage loans.
By 2007, Ocala Funding restructured and brought in two new investors, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas. This helped funnel in $1.75 billion to the entity and pay off the old investors.
“Is that how you were supposed to use the money?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Connolly asked Allen.
“No, sir,” the witness replied.
A former senior executive at Freddie Mac, Allen described Farkas as “a micromanager” who reached “far down the organizational level to have one-on-one conversations with people.”
Following one such unapproved discussion with a Colonial official, Allen said Farkas fired off a single-line missive to his email inbox, which read, “I am going to KILL you,” an exhibit that was published for the jury.
“There was that hole and if we were caught between a rock and a hard place, we would go to them and say, we need Plan B [loans],” Brown testified.
“We were stealing money,” she added.
Speaking in a deep, almost flat tone, the 45-year-old Hernando resident told the jury that Farkas’ residence, complete with a cabana and swimming pool, was “beautiful” — “kind of like walking through Silver Springs attraction,” she said, which she described for the courtroom, as “like a garden.”
“I used to say, if he wanted to drive a different car to work each day, he could — for a month at least,” the witness said, adding that her boss did use company funds to pay housekeeping staff.
With respect to the “disappearing” SB 1259:
The Bill: Reference Title:Foreclosures: Proof of Ownership
Introduced by Senators Reagan, McComish: Biggs
AN ACT Amending Title 33 Chapter 6.1 Article 1. Arizona Revised Statutes By Adding Section 33-807.02: Relating To Deeds of Trust.
SB 1259 –
01 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
02 Section 1. Title 33, chapter 6.1, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes,
03 is amended by adding section 33-807.02, to read:
04 333-807.02. Nonoriginator foreclosures; evidence of title;
05 remedy; attorney fees
06 A. FOR ANY BENEFICIARY WHO IS NOT THE ORIGINATING BENEFICIARY ON THE
07 DEED OF TRUST, THE BENEFICIARY SHALL RECORD A SUMMARY DOCUMENT REGARDING THE
08 BENEFICIARY’S LEGAL INTEREST IN THE DEED OF TRUST THAT CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING
09 INFORMATION IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:
10 1. THE FULL NAME AND ADDRESS OF RECORD OF EVERY PRIOR BENEFICIARY ON
11 THE DEED OF TRUST.
12 2. THE DATE, RECORDATION NUMBER OR OTHER UNIQUE DESIGNATION OF THE
13 INSTRUMENT, AND A DESCRIPTION OF THE INSTRUMENT THAT CONVEYED THE INTEREST OF
14 EACH BENEFICIARY.
15 B. THE SUMMARY DOCUMENT PRESCRIBED BY THIS SECTION SHALL BE RECORDED
16 AT THE SAME TIME AND PLACE THAT THE NOTICE OF TRUSTEE’S SALE IS RECORDED
17 PURSUANT TO SECTION 33-808 AND A COPY OF THE SUMMARY DOCUMENT SHALL BE
18 ATTACHED TO ANY NOTICE OF TRUSTEE’S SALE THAT IS REQUIRED TO BE PROVIDED AS
19 PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 33-809.19C.
20 FAILURE TO PROPERLY RECORD THE SUMMARY DOCUMENT THAT DEMONSTRATES
21 EVIDENCE OF TITLE FOR THE FORECLOSING BENEFICIARY AS OF THE DATE OF THE
22 TRUSTEE’S SALE AS PRESCRIBED BY THIS SECTION RESULTS IN A VOIDABLE SALE.
23 D. ANY PERSON WITH AN INTEREST IN THE TRUST PROPERTY MAY FILE AN
24 ACTION TO VOID THE TRUSTEE’S SALE FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS SECTION AND
25 IS ENTITLED TO AN AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES AS WELL AS DAMAGES AS OTHERWISE
26 PROVIDED BY LAW IF THE PERSON SUBSTANTIALLY PREVAILS, INCLUDING AN AWARD OF
27 ATTORNEY FEES FOR ANY INJUNCTION OR OTHER PROVISIONAL REMEDIES RELATED TO THE
“ForeclosureIndustry.com” (Feb 6, 2011):
Arizona Action Alert! Support SB 1259!
“All Arizona homeowners should be interested in these changes to the Arizona foreclosure statute. It would require the recording of a certification regarding the complete chain of title prior to any non-judicial foreclosure not conducted by an originating lender, or the sale would be voidable. Attorney’s fees would be awarded if a homeowner had to sue to enforce this.”
Not surprisingly MERSCorp hired professional lobbyists to fight the bill.
“The bill passed through the Senate Republican caucus yesterday. MERS has reportedly retained Tri-Advocates, via Squire Sanders law firm (thought they used Quarles Brady law firm in Arizona?) to kill our bill, SB 1259, on Monday. Why are they so afraid of truth telling? A foreclosing party should be legally authorized. It should be easy to come up with a summary of transfers that must have already occurred at foreclosure, for the conveyances of real property interests in the deeds of trust to be legal. I’m glad that we’ve had an opportunity to create new jobs for lobbyists in Arizona but SB 1259 should pass. It’s a no brainer for Arizona citizens who oppose the theft of houses, and support transparency.
The bill should get a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday by the full Senate.”
Suggested reading – under Case Filings listed in links on the rightmost column of this blog. In particular The Ibanez Decision, Professor Randall Wray on the Grossman Ruling, and Randall Wray’s Nightmare on Wallstreet.
“Foreclosure Industry.com” (Feb 16, 2011): Bill Passes Senate
Mandellman Matters (Feb 24, 2011): Bankers Apoplectic Over Arizona’s Republican Dominated Senate Passing Chain of Title Bill, 28-2
Frankly, I don’t know where to begin. There’s just so much to say. It’s like a cornucopia of… well, lots of stuff to say. Bankers everywhere must be walking in circles, muttering to themselves, perhaps breaking out in hives. And I have to imagine that banking industry lobbyists are in some kind of trouble with their masters today, with phones being slammed down after CEOs have screamed:
You see, the Arizona State Senate has passed Senate Bill 1259, sponsored by Michele Reagan, which would require the lenders that didn’t originate a loan to produce the full chain of title, or risk the foreclosure sale being voided. The bill now goes to the House for a vote, but with the Senate having passed it by an overwhelming margin of 28-2, it would seem that its passage is a fait accompli.
According to the Arizona Senate’s FACT SHEET FOR S.B.1259, foreclosures; proof of ownership, the Bill’s purpose is as follows:
“Provides a chain of ownership during foreclosure proceedings and allows reimbursement of lawyer fees for injunctions or court cases that fail to prove ownership.”
I urge you to read his full article.
Since the bill has been passed, it appears to have “disappeared”, at least on the list of sponsored bills presented on Arizona State Senator Michele Reagan’s website:
“I love that reruns of the Sopranos are back on. Remember Tony Soprano and the guys and the dark humor of the mafia? If they didn’t like someone, they were whacked….disappeared. But as I woke up this morning, I read on 4Closurefraud something that really blew my mind. It was an absolutely disturbing post from Mandelman Matters where he suggested that the banksters were able to make an entire piece of filed legislation….DISAPPEAR. “
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the AZ House of Representatives… After passing the Senate 28-2… S.B. 1259 Completely Disappeared
Arizona State Senator Michele Reagan, was first elected to serve in the Arizona House of Representatives in 2002. In 2010, she was elected to the Arizona State Senate. She is Vice-Chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee, and Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Jobs Creation.
Well, as you might remember from the article I posted on February 23rd of this year, she and her husband were sued by their servicer, Texas-based Colonial Savings FA, when they sent the bank a letter last July stating that they were planning to rescind their loan due to violations of the Truth in Lending Act or TILA.
Apparently, Senator Reagan found herself having a dickens of a time finding out who exactly owned her note, and she wasn’t at all happy about it. So, in response, and working with Arizona attorney, Beth Findsen, she sponsored Senate Bill 1259.
But that’s nothing more than just the industry’s standard scary bedtime story, nothing to get too excited about… at least that’s what I thought at the time.
So, I posted my article on Senator Reagan’s S.B. 1259 this past February and waiting anxiously to hear about its passage by the House. The governor, smart money was already saying, would sign the bill upon its passage. This was going to be good… don’t you just love Arizona, was all I could think to myself.
It was perhaps a little over a month later when I found myself packing my suitcase, about to leave for the greater Phoenix area on my second annual pilgrimage to watch Major League Baseball’s Cactus League during Spring Training.
I called an Arizona foreclosure defense attorney, Don Loeb, who lives in Phoenix, and who had suggested that we meet for dinner during my stay in the Valley of the Sun, and while I had him on the phone, I asked him about the status of Senator Reagan’s bill, as I had been unable to find anything about its status online. In fact, when I had searched for information on-line, S.B. 1259 seemed to be about something about firefighters… I was sure I was doing something wrong.
What I heard Don say, however, made no sense to me whatsoever and it simply wasn’t sinking in for the first minute or two… Don said S.B. 1259 was gone, replaced by something having to do with firefighting… he said I needed to speak with Beth Findsen to get the details.