This is a man-bites-dog story: a New York lawyer who ran a notorious foreclosure mill has shut down his operation. Excerpt:
The announcement caps a remarkable fall for the state’s dominant foreclosure law firm, which until recently handled 40 percent of all foreclosures statewide. That’s also made it a lightning rod for criticism and anger during the mortgage crisis, particularly downstate in New York City and Long Island, where foreclosures have been much more severe than in upstate and Western New York.
The firm had already been denounced by consumers and consumer advocates for its work on behalf of lenders even before the “robo-signing” controversy thrust it into the middle of a nationwide crisis over the legitimacy of the legal process underpinning many foreclosures.
Since then, the firm has been criticized for participating in “robo-signing” and allegedly improper foreclosures, with critics saying it helped speed up foreclosures to benefit its lender clients by allegedly authorizing the “assignment” or transfer of mortgages from one lender to another when critics say it lacked authority to do so.
And it’s been vilified by advocates, other attorneys, politicians and even judges for submitting sloppy and allegedly fraudulent paperwork that is riddled with legal errors, including faulty affidavits and notarizations.
On the down side, at least 90 employees, and as many as 600, will lose their livelihoods. Sad for them, but they were in on a bad business. I’d say Joe Nocera now has a scalp. As Nocera wrote in an earlier column:
I saw the firm operate up close when I wrote several columns about Lilla Roberts, a 73-year-old homeowner who had spent three years in foreclosure hell. Although she had a steady income and was a good candidate for a modification, the Baum firm treated her mercilessly.
Nelson Muntz to ya, Baum.