Archive for February 11th, 2011

Fraud on the Court, Ben-Ezra style

Just yesterday I was lamenting the absence of any sanction against Ben-Ezra & Katz for its ongoing and systemic fraud on the courts, per Fannie Mae, which fired the foreclosure mill.  Today, I got some insight into the fraud, and it’s not pretty.  To illustrate, read this Order to Show Cause.  I promise – it’s a whopper. 

Apparently, Ben-Ezra filed a foreclosure suit with a lost note count, then filed an “original” note signed by an entirely different defendant on an entirely different property, along with a fraudulent assignment of mortgage.  The Court entered summary judgment, then, upon realizing the fraud, directed Ben-Ezra & Katz to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court. 

This morning, Judge Maxine Cohen Lando conducted the show-cause hearing.  I’m hoping to get my hands on the transcript, but, from what I’m told by a colleague, she held Ben-Ezra & Katz in contempt, vacated the foreclosure judgment, dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, and referred the lawyers to The Florida Bar. 

FINALLY!  A sanction for fraud.  I applaud Judge Lando for this ruling and hope other judges follow suit.  Better yet, I encourage all judges to realize the extent of the fraud and take stock of it before signing foreclosure judgments.  Bear in mind, the fraud must be really bad for Fannie Mae to terminate Ben-Ezra, and this is undoubtedly just one example. 

It’s worth noting that Ben-Ezra’s young associate was also held in contempt by the Court.  This is ironic, as I was just having a conversation about this issue the other day with a young associate at a foreclosure mill, about how just because his bosses tell him to “follow procedure” by doing something unethical doesn’t mean he should oblige.  After all, it’s his name on the signature line of court filings, and when push comes to shove, if there is misconduct, he’ll be the one who has to answer for it.  Suffice it to say this is something for all the young lawyers at the foreclosure mills to think about.  Yes, the economy is bad and yes, we all need to earn a living, but it’s not worth committing ethical violations, even if that is “procedure” at the foreclosure mill.  Maybe you’ll get away with it once, maybe ten times, or maybe even a hundred, but eventually you will get caught, and, as Judge Lando has shown, the sanction when you get caught is (and should be) extreme.

Mark Stopa

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