The Amherst, NY law office of Steven J. Baum, the biggest foreclosure law firm in New York, has been getting some heat recently. I will be posting a separate blog about the complicated relationship between the Baum office and Pillar processing LLC. But independent of Pillar problems, Baum has been on the receiving end of some homeowner counter-suits in the New York City area.
According to The Buffalo News (October 17, 2010 article by Jonathan P. Epstein), an attorney in New York City, representing two homeowners there, has sued Baum for "knowingly and fraudulently filing foreclosures, paperwork and false notarizations statewide on behalf of lenders that don't hold the actual mortgages, including HSBC Bank USA and its mortgage subsidiary."
The Buffalo News reports that the Baum law firm was founded in 1972 by Marvin Baum. Steven Baum, his son, took over in 1999, after Marvin Baum's death.
The New York Post reported on July 6 that Judge Arthur M. Schanck of Brooklyn dismissed a foreclosure there in part because of alleged conflict-of-interest by an attorney in the Baum office. According to The Post. "a Baum lawyer. . . signed papers claiming to be an executive of Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, which was given certain rights to the mortgages by the broker, Fremont Investment and Loan, while simultaneously representing Fremont and US Bank, which filed the foreclosure in July 2009. 'The Court is concerned that the concurrent representation by [the Baum firm] of both assignor MERS, as nominee for Fremont, and assignee plaintiff US Bank is a conflict of interest,' Schack wrote."
The New York Times (Article October 3, 2010 by Gretchen Morgenson) reported that the United States Trustee in New York City supported the application of a Bronx bankruptcy debtor to sanction JP Morgan Chase for dubious foreclosure documentation in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case of Sylvia Nuer (SDNY Bk 08-14106).
According to The Times: "a lawyer for Chase conceded that a law firm that had previously represented the bank, the Steven J. Baum firm of Buffalo, had filed inaccurate documents as it sought to take over the property from Ms. Nuer. The Chase lawyer told a judge last January that his predecessors had combed through the chain of title on the property and could not find a proper assignment. The firm found 'something didn't happen that needed to be fixed,' he explained, and then, according to court documents, it prepared inaccurate documents to fill in the gaps."