‘Housing’ articles

New robo-signing brief: Misconduct by AG Masto's office could 'seriously damage public confidence' in that office

Defense to argue for case dismissal in Monday hearing; former chief
prosecutor calls conflict of interest argument 'blatantly misleading.'

BULLETIN: Nevada's 8th Judicial District Court dismisses all charges against LSI title officers.

LAS VEGAS — New evidence bearing on allegations that Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and her top deputies engaged in repeated and systemic prosecutorial misconduct to indict two Lender Processing Services employees is scheduled to go before Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court today.

Defense attorneys for the employees say photographs now submitted to the court provide “potent proof” of the falsity of sworn testimony by Masto’s former chief deputy and head criminal prosecutor in the case, John P. Kelleher — as well as the falsity of assurances that Masto’s office gave to the court.

Gary Trafford and Gerry Sheppard, two LPS title officers, were indicted by a Clark County grand jury in November 2011 on charges of so-called robo-signing “forgery,” having authorized certain LPS employees they supervised to sign the title officers’ names to legal documents.

Continue reading »

AG covered up conflict of interest
in robo-signing case, says brief

Violation could lead to dismissal of indictments against mortgage title officers

LAS VEGAS — Evidence that Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and her office engaged in rampant prosecutorial misconduct in the pursuit of two mortgage-servicing industry employees grew even stronger this week.

Masto’s chief deputy attorney general John Kelleher — lead prosecutor in the November 2011 high-profile felony prosecution of two Lender Processing Services (LPS) title officers — was inflamed with a powerful personal conflict of interest when he set out to get a grand jury to indict LPS employees Gary Trafford and Geri Sheppard, assert their attorneys.

“The reach of misconduct in this case by the Nevada Attorney General's Office (‘AG’) extended even further than previously known,” states a new brief filed by the defense attorneys.

Continue reading »

Obama brags on under-performing housing program to below-capacity crowd

President's Las Vegas comments evade realities revealed by Treasury's own HAMP data

LAS VEGAS — President Barack Obama claimed his housing policies helped over 1 million Americans refinance their homes and saved Americans $3,000 a year during a Wednesday evening rally at the Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas.

The picture painted by the president, however, contrasts sharply with data released by his own Treasury Department and analyzed with respect to Silver State mortgage holders by Nevada Journal.

Continue reading »

'Panicking' Obama administration
injured U.S., Nevada homeowners

Treasury brass opened door for phony 'trial' mortgage modifications

LAS VEGAS — Almost 80 percent of Nevadans who applied to participate in the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) were excluded for various reasons, according to U.S. Treasury Department data processed by Nevada Journal.

Between February 2009, when the program was first announced, and June 30, 2012, when the most current federal data ends, 89,293 underwater Silver State homeowners had applied for HAMP mortgage modifications, the data indicates.

Of those, 16,777 reportedly succeeded in procuring the HAMP program’s so-called “permanent” — i.e., five-year — modifications to their mortgages, allowing them lower monthly payments during that period.

Another 1,094 are listed by the government as currently participating in the trial period of at least three months required before a “permanent” modification can be offered them.

And 58 homeowners paid off their loans, according to the Treasury data.

That leaves 68,364 Nevadans who, according to the data, sought to participate, but, for one reason or another, were not allowed into the program. An examination of the data suggests that theoretically, as many as a third of them could actually have been damaged, financially or otherwise, by their involvement with HAMP.

Continue reading »

'Horrifying results' of HAMP
laid at U.S. Treasury's door

Foreclosed Nevada homeowners now dubious about government 'help'

LAS VEGAS — That the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) actually worsened the plight of many American homeowners has been well documented — if not widely discussed.

But how much of that needless distress was suffered by Nevada homeowners? And how much of the Silver State’s multiple-year economic disaster can be laid directly at HAMP’s door?

These questions gain new pertinence following the public release of surveys conducted for the Nevada Association of Realtors’ new report, Nevada’s Face of Foreclosure: An In-Depth Look at Nevada’s Housing Crisis.

Of the Nevadans queried who had personally experienced foreclosure, a remarkable 40 percent said that they had been advised to stop paying on their mortgages “in order to qualify for assistance” from their lender.

So large a proportion strongly suggests that many Nevada homeowners were victims of a “particularly pernicious type of abuse” that an illuminating and tightly documented new book says HAMP facilitated.

Continue reading »

Citations suggest Nevada law
permissive on ‘robo-signing’

AG’s complaint called mere ‘collection of suppositions, legal conclusions, and inflammatory labels.’

LAS VEGAS — When the late Tracy Lawrence went before a Clark County Grand Jury last November to be quizzed about her activities as a notary for Lender Processing Services, she must have felt uneasy.

On the one hand, supervisors in the big back-office firm serving the mortgage industry had repeatedly assured her and other employees that what they’d been doing — signing supervisors’ names, with the supervisors’ permission, to notices of default — was entirely lawful in Nevada.

It was also legal, employees were told, for them to then notarize such documents without having the alleged signer in front of them ...

Continue reading »

Coroner reports cause of death for notary

Was on anti-anxiety, allergy medications

LAS VEGAS — The notary for Lender Processing Services in Las Vegas, who was found dead last November, died with three medicines in her bloodstream, according to the Clark County Coroner’s office.

Tracy Lawrence had been scheduled to appear for sentencing in a plea deal with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, but was later found dead at home.

Cause of death was initially not known. Today, following toxicology tests, a coroner’s office spokesman told Nevada Journal the cause of death was listed as “dithenhydramine-alprazolam-hydroxyzine intoxication.”

Alprazolam, according to the National Institutes of Health ...

Continue reading »

AG Masto’s office guilty of prosecutorial misconduct, sloppy legal practice, argues brief

Lender Processing attorneys condemn behavior of office before grand jury

LAS VEGAS — When is a legal brief blistering hot?

One answer: When it asserts the office of Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto engaged in both prosecutorial misconduct and sloppy legal practice — and then supports those assertions with strong legal arguments and evidence.

The brief in question — supporting a petition for a writ of habeas corpus joined with a motion to dismiss — was filed Monday in Clark County District Court by attorneys for Gary Trafford.

Trafford — one of two mid-level managers for Lender Processing Services (LPS) indicted by Masto’s office in mid-November — is currently being held in the Clark ...

Continue reading »

Have laws to aid defaulting homeowners hurt Nevada’s more-responsible majority?

Legislators put lower priority on state’s economic recovery

To help homeowners who couldn’t keep current with their mortgages, Nevada legislators in 2009 and 2011 changed state laws to make foreclosures more difficult for banks and other lenders.

Given all the headlines about “robo-signing” and other mortgage-industry improprieties, passage of the legislation was easy.

And when industry representatives advised caution — that the legislation could easily delay Nevada’s exit from its economic depression — sponsors of the bills, more than once, became indignant.

The new laws, the lawmakers insisted, were simply a matter of fairness — of justice.

“This bill is not about recovery,” lectured Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin ...

Continue reading »

The Art of War and the national mortgage settlement

As the deal went down, what was really going on?

“You know, I’m a conservative, Republican, mother of three, Catholic, own my own business,” says Tisha Black-Chernine.

But she is also a consultant to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office and was inside the room when the final deals were being cut in the so-called “national mortgage settlement,” in early February.

Nevertheless, insists Black, she’s no zealous consumer advocate who thinks that giant corporations are terrible.

What started her down her current road, she says, was what she was observing in her real-estate law practice a few years ago — and what she was finding herself saying.

“I thought ...

Continue reading »