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Zombie foreclosures rise in 16 states and 60 metro areas

Zombie foreclosures are on the decline, but they’re still scaring people in 60 metro areas and 16 states.

There were 117,298 owner-vacated foreclosures nationwide in the third quarter of 2014, representing 18% of total properties in foreclosure, down from 141,406 in the second quarter of 2014 (17% of all foreclosures) and down 152,033 (23% of foreclosures) in the same period last year, according to data released Thursday by the real estate website RealtyTrac. “Zombie” foreclosures occur when the owner leaves the property, but the bank has yet to take possession of it.

Contrary to this national trend, there were increases in owner-vacated foreclosure in the third quarter in 16 states, including New Jersey, where zombie foreclosures surged 75% year-over-year, North Carolina (up 65%), Oklahoma (up 37%), and New York (up 30%) and Alabama (up 29%). The New York metro area had the most zombie foreclosures (13,366) in the third quarter, followed by Miami (9,869), Tampa (7,509), Chicago (7,326), Philadelphia (5,405) and Orlando (3,732).

A short and efficient foreclosure prevents zombies, says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. Some states passed laws to give homeowners more time to avoid foreclosure through face-to-face mediation and other means, which sometimes just delays the inevitable, he says. “The best antidote for a zombie foreclosure infestation is a pro-active land bank program like that in Cleveland and, more recently, Chicago designed to aggressively take possession of vacant foreclosures or demolish them.”


“These properties that stick out like a sore thumb and are in the worst condition,” Blomquist says. “Neither the homeowner nor the bank is maintaining the property. At least with normal foreclosures, the homeowner or the bank is taking care of it.” The homeowner is often unsure about when the bank has taken possession, he adds. On the one hand, they could stay there longer, but they could also risk trespassing in their former home if they stay too long.

Also see: These real-estate agents walked into real-life houses of horrors

Foreclosed homes often fall into disrepair and can be a headache for neighbors who want to sell their own properties. On average, each foreclosure that takes place within 0.05 miles of a house lowers the price of that house by about 1%, according to a study released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. “The good news is if they wanted to keep that home and fight to save it, there is a chance,” Blomquist says. “They could go back and find some alternative to foreclosure.”

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Key leader in foreclosure rescue scam sentenced to 10 years in prison

A Huntington Beach man who, federal authorities say, played a significant role in a nationwide foreclosure scam that included several Sacramento-area homeowners among its victims has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Jeremy Michael “Mike” Head, 34, was sentenced Wednesday in Sacramento, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. A federal jury found him guilty in May 2013 after a nearly four-week trial before U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. Head’s brother and co-defendant Charles Head, 40, was sentenced by Judge Mueller in September to 35 years in prison.

According to evidence presented at trial, Mike Head played an important leadership role in a fraud scheme that promised to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and repair their credit. Authorities said he recruited and managed other members of the team.

Through misrepresentations, fraud and forgery, the Head brothers and their associates substituted straw buyers for the victim homeowners on the titles of properties without the homeowners’ knowledge. The straw buyers were often friends and family members of the defendants. Once the straw buyers were on the title to the homes, the defendants applied for mortgages to extract the maximum available equity from the homes, then shared the proceeds from the equity and the “rent” the homeowners paid them.

The victim homeowners were left with no home, no equity and with damaged credits ratings.

Between January 2004 and March 2006, the scam netted more than $15 million in fraudulently obtained funds from scores of homeowners, including about a half-dozen Sacramento-area residents. The case came to the attention of an FBI agent when a North Highlands victim reached an FBI economic crimes agent who was taking calls from the complaint line.

On Feb. 28, 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Mike Head, his brother Charles and 14 other defendants, charging them with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and other offenses. Eleven of the Heads’ co-defendants have entered guilty pleas, and charges were dismissed against one. Charges against two remaining defendants, Domonic McCarns, 37, of Brea, and Anh Nguyen, 40, of Los Angeles are pending.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

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LA City Council backs proposal to toughen foreclosure registry

Los Angeles is poised to tack a new fee on foreclosed properties, in a move that the city hopes will help keep the homes from turning into crumbling wrecks.

The City Council on Wednesday gave its initial approval to a measure that would toughen L.A.’s foreclosure registry program, which is designed to help city officials keep tabs on bank-owned vacant properties but which community groups and a city audit have said isn’t working.

lRelated Federal rules are deterring banks from approving more home loans
Real EstateFederal rules are deterring banks from approving more home loansSee all related

More than 35,000 houses have been listed on the registry since it was launched last year, including more than 7,100 this year, with their owners paying a $150 registration fee and listing a local property manager to contact in case of problems. But the city’s Division of Building and Safety has said it barely uses the registry to track down owners of nuisance properties, and has no resources to proactively inspect foreclosures before they become problems.

A measure to improve the registry was first proposed in 2012 by then-City Council member, now-Mayor Eric Garcetti, but has sat dormant for nearly two years, in part because of lawsuits against a similar program in Chicago.

In May, City Controller Ron Galperin issued a highly critical audit of the registry — calling it “inherently flawed” — and urged improvements. Some community groups called for changes too, even staging well-publicized cleanups of a particularly dilapidated bank-owned house on 111th Street last spring to draw attention to the issue.

Beverly Roberts, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, says she sees too many crumbling vacant properties in her South L.A. neighborhood. It’s time, Roberts said, for the banks that own them to be held accountable.

“You can see the weeds grown up and the house boarded up, and it looks like they should be getting ready to demolish it,” she said. “It makes our community look raggedy, and we’re tired of it.”

Business groups spoke up against the proposal Wednesday, saying that it was too broad and that it was penalizing any bank that owns a house regardless of the home’s condition.

Related story: California foreclosure filings fall to lowest level since 2005

Related story: California foreclosure filings fall to lowest level since 2005 Andrew Khouri The foreclosure crisis is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The foreclosure crisis is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. ( Andrew Khouri ) –>

“We all support reducing blight,” said Ruben Gonzalez, senior vice president at the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. “You’re simply punishing every lender whether they’re being good corporate citizen or not.”

Properties that are on the foreclosure registry are more than twice as likely as average to have a code enforcement complaint on record, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of the registry and city building data. And since January, housing officials have found more than 1,600 houses that were in some stage of foreclosure but have not been registered, Helen Morales, a senior investigator with the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department, told the City Council on Wednesday.

The new fees — and a $250-per-day fine for failing to register — should help to end that, said City Council member Paul Krekorian, one of the measure’s co-sponsors.

“This is so long overdue,” he said. “I’m pleased we’re finally bringing this to the finish line.”

The City Council scheduled a final vote for Nov. 12. With no opposition from members so far, a spokesman for Cedillo said he was confident that the measure would pass.

Twitter: @bytimlogan

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Far fewer Maryland homes are entering foreclosure this year


Nationally, 1.6 percent of homes on the market are foreclosed homes.

Dream Estate for Equestrians15 photos

Kevin Litten
Reporter- Baltimore Business Journal


The number of homes entering foreclosure in Maryland has fallen significantly in the last year, dropping 29 percent since September 2013, according to a CoreLogic report released Wednesday.

Just 2.3 percent of all homes in Maryland are entering foreclosure, the report said. The number of completed foreclosures on homes is falling as well, dropping from 9,873 in September 2013 to 7,199 in September 2014, Corelogic found.

Nationally, 1.6 percent of homes on the market are foreclosed homes.

“Although the foreclosure inventory and rates of serious delinquent loans remain elevated in many states, progress is being made,” CoreLogic CEO Anand Nallathambi said in a statement. “This bodes well for a better housing market in 2015 and beyond.”

Maryland ranked 10th for the number of completed foreclosures, which is the main indicator for how many homes will enter the for-sale market. The state came in just behind New York and New Jersey; Florida remains in first place for the number of completed foreclosures.

When it comes to major metro areas, the Baltimore region ranked 17th for completed foreclosures, with 3,605, just behind the Washington, D.C. area’s 3,687 completed foreclosures. About 6.2 percent of mortgages in the Baltimore region are considered “seriously delinquent” compared to a 3.7 percent delinquency rate in D.C.

Nationally, the delinquency rate is 4.2 percent.

The ranking included only states that were part of a judicial settlement that forced banks to rework foreclosure filings and delayed the court process.

Kevin Litten covers Commercial Real Estate and Economic Development

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Bogus foreclosure rescue scheme nets 10 years in prison

gavel handcuffs crime legal court

Jeremy Michael “Mike” Head, 34, of Huntington Beach, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento to 10 years in prison for his part in a nationwide foreclosure rescue scam.

Mark Anderson
Staff Writer- Sacramento Business Journal


Jeremy Michael “Mike” Head, 34, of Huntington Beach, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Sacramento to 10 years in prison for his part in a nationwide foreclosure rescue scam.

Court papers said Head was a leader in a scheme that promised homeowners help avoiding foreclosure. Instead, Head and his associates left struggling homeowners with no home, no equity and severely damaged credit.

In December, a federal jury in Sacramento returned guilty verdicts against his brother Charles Head and two other people.

Charles Head, 40, was sentenced in September to 35 years in prison.

Court papers said the Head brothers led a scam based in Orange County between January 2004 and spring of 2006 that extracted $15 million from victims.

The Head brothers used several entities, including Head Financial Services and Creative Loans. The case was tried in Sacramento because it is home to the Eastern District of California, which is where many of the initial victims of the foreclosure scams were from in the days before the nation’s banking crisis. The investigation began in February 2008.

“Mike Head made a small fortune taking advantage of victims who looked to him for help. Instead of helping, he stole the last remaining equity in their homes, and many victims were evicted and left destitute. He will now go to prison and pay for his crimes,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a news release.

The case was investigated by the IRS criminal investigation unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. attorneys Michael Anderson and Matthew Morris prosecuted the case.

Mark Anderson covers technology, agriculture, banking and finance, venture capital, energy, mining and hospitality for the Sacramento Business Journal.

Article source:

Can Chevron Buy Richmond? – Truth

2014 1029 chev 1Richmond working families rally at City Hall, October 23, 2014. (Photo: David Solnit)

The support of readers like you got this story published – and helps Truthout stay free from corporate advertising. Can you sustain our work with a tax-deductible donation today?

The first Battle of Richmond took place in 1862, when the Confederate army won a stunning victory over Union troops in that Kentucky town. In terms of casualties, 206 Union soldiers were killed, 844 were wounded and 4,303 were captured or missing. The Confederate side suffered far fewer losses – 78 killed, 372 wounded, and only one soldier missing.

The current Battle of Richmond pits Big Oil and Wall Street against the citizens of the working class city of Richmond, California, north of San Francisco. The weapons aren’t rifles and cannons, but corporate cash against the votes of ordinary citizens. What’s at stake is the future of our democracy.        

Across America, cities have become ground-zero in the battle against plutocracy. In cities like New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Boston, San Antonio, Phoenix, Newark, Los Angeles and Jackson, Mississippi, voters have recently elected progressive mayors and city council members who campaigned to challenge Wall Street and corporate America.

Once in office, these progressive and populist politicians work with community groups, environmental activists and unions to address the widening gap between the superrich and everyone else, adopt citywide living wage laws to help lift families out of poverty, fight for families facing foreclosures and layoffs, reign in the corporate polluters who put profits over people and public health, end racial profiling by local police and deal with racial inequality and discrimination by landlords and employers.

2014 1029 chev 2Mayor McLaughlin at the home of a family facing foreclosure. (Photo courtesy of ACCE)

Of course, the plutocrats aren’t sitting on their hands while the people fight for a fair economy. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings, big business is reaching deep into its pockets to stop this challenge to its power and privilege. They are spending billions in campaign contributions, lobbying and election slush funds to try to buy and rent politicians. And, make no doubt about it, many candidates have a “for sale” sign on their campaign headquarters, more than happy to take Wall Street and Big Oil’s money.

Nowhere is this battle between organized people and organized money more evident than in Richmond, a small city of 106,000. There, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, together with a team of progressive elected officials and their feisty allies among community groups, environment activists and labor unions, have turned their town into a laboratory for democracy around major national issues like Wall Street accountability and climate justice.

Over the past decade, Wall Street banks victimized Richmond’s working class families with high-risk predatory mortgages. As a result, Richmond has had more than its share of foreclosures, particularly among black and Latino residents, who represent 26 percent and 40 percent of the city’s population, respectively.

2014 1029 chev 3Mayor McLaughlin in front of Wells Fargo Headquarters in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of ACCE)Close to half of all homeowners there are “underwater” – they are drowning in debt. In response, Mayor McLaughlin and the City Council struck fear into Wall Street by becoming the first city in the country to pass a plan (still to be implemented) to use eminent domain – a tool typically used to hurt our communities – in a new way to fix troubled mortgages and keep people in their homes.

But the real David versus Goliath story concerns Richmond and Big Oil. Mayor McLaughlin and her progressive City Council allies have also stood up to Chevron – America’s third largest corporation (after Walmart and Exxon Mobil) – whose massive Richmond refinery is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. For years, it spewed pollution and dumped toxic waste into the water and air. Richmond’s rate of child hospitalizations for asthma is double the rest of the state. The Richmond area also has one of the highest rates of breast cancer.

For many years, Chevron controlled Richmond’s municipal government. As late as the 1990s, the city manager’s office reserved a desk for a Chevron executive. But in the past decade, Chevron lost its grip on the city government. Voters were frustrated by high levels of violence, widespread corruption (leading to an FBI investigation), and persistent police harassment and brutality of the city’s Black and Latino residents.

In 2004, local activists formed the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), a coalition of environmentalists and Green Party activists, progressive Democrats, Latinos and African Americans. Over the course of several election cycles, progressives began winning seats on the city council and adopting new policies to improve living and working conditions in Richmond. They’ve been bolstered by effective grassroots organizing by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), the West County Toxics Coalition, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other labor groups.

2014 1029 chev 4Mayor McLaughlin and Community prior to big vote on eminent domain to save homes. (Photo courtesy of ACCE)

In 2006, McLaughlin ran for and was elected mayor against the incumbent. She was re-elected in 2010. Although the mayor’s office has little formal power, McLaughlin has effectively used her “bully pulpit” to promote progressive causes and campaigns. She’s spoken at a meeting of over 1,000 people to oppose Richmond police’s cooperation with federal ICE raids against undocumented immigrants. She participated in rallies and meetings demanding corporate clean-up of toxins. She led the charge demanding that Wall Street banks help local residents save their homes from predatory lending and foreclosures.

McLaughlin and her progressive council colleagues, as well as community activists and unions, have supported many grassroots and policy initiatives that consolidated their broad political support. They joined forces with “Operation Ceasefire” (a national campaign to reduce gun violence) and “Safe Return” (to help ex-prisoners find housing, job training, and employment in Richmond). The City removed questions about prior convictions from its application forms for municipal jobs. Richmond’s new police chief shifted the department to embrace community-oriented policing. The number of homicides in Richmond declined form 47 in 2007 to 18 in 2012.

The progressives expanded access to playgrounds and athletic facilities for Richmond’s young people, winning support from soccer-loving Latino residents and the predominantly black football teams and their supporters. Richmond created a municipal ID program to help residents (including undocumented immigrants) who lacked driver’s licences and other photo IDs needed to get ATM accounts and other services. Activists got local police to end its driver’s licence checkpoints (which were aimed at catching undocumented immigrants) and focus efforts on stopping drunk drivers. They promote bike lanes, supported worker-owned co-operatives, and expanded public art.

The progressive city officials persuaded Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to open its second campus in Richmond, a catalyst for many construction, office and research jobs as well as for attracting private research-oriented firms to locate near the government-run facility. Under the progressives, Richmond’s bond rating was upgraded to A. They’ve also initiated an effort to adopt a citywide minimum wage.

Despite these improvements, Chevron is not happy with Richmond’s municipal government. Why is the oil giant so determined to oust McLaughlin and her colleagues in the November 4 election?

  • In 2005, the City Council overturned a local law (enacted in 1992) that allowed Chevron to inspect its own construction projects rather than have city inspectors examine the company’s safety standards.
  • In 2008, Richmond voters supported Measure T to require Chevron to pay its fair share of taxes to the city.
  • Two years ago, a fire and explosion at Chevron’s oil refinery in Richmond sent 15,000 residents to the hospital. The federal Chemical Safety Board revealed for a decade Chevron had disregarded the advice of its own experts and workers to replace the corroded pipe that failed. Mayor McLaughlin and a coalition of community and environmental groups took Chevron to court. Chevron had to pay $2 million in fines and restitution and pled “no contest” to six charges that included, the Associated Press reported, “failing to correct deficiencies in equipment and failing to require the use of certain equipment to protect employees from potential harm.”
  • Mayor McLaughlin and her team also successfully challenged Chevron’s misleading environmental impact study of a proposed expansion project and made Chevron pay a $114 million tax settlement to the city and install ground-level air quality monitors
  • Last summer, the city council approved Chevron’s billion-dollar modernization plan for its refinery. But in exchange for that approval, the local officials required the giant oil company to adopt additional air pollution restrictions, stronger safety requirements, and $90 million in “community benefits.”

Chevron isn’t used to being treated this way. It is used to telling politicians to jump and having them ask, “how high?”

McLaughlin is termed out as mayor, but she is running for the city council. With five of seven council seats up for grabs, this election will determine whether Chevron will control Richmond’s future. The oil giant – which last year made $21.4 billion income and paid its CEO John Watson $20.2 million in compensation – has spared no expense to win the second Battle of Richmond.

2014 1029 chev 5Jovanka Beckles in front of City Hall, July 30, 2014. (Photo courtesy of ACCE)Chevron has already poured about $3 million – over $150 for every “likely” voter – into a committee to support their hand-picked candidates. Those on the progressive slate include: Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles, Jael Myrick and Eduardo Martinez for city council, and Tom Butt for mayor. Butt, a longtime council member, has accused the Chevron-backed candidates of making their top priority “to take care of Chevron and developers and the industrial community.”

There is no local newspaper in Richmond, so Chevron started its own newspaper website called the Richmond Standard, run by an employee of Chevron’s PR firm named Mike Aldax. Its “stories” are nothing more than Chevron propaganda. (To provide more objective news coverage, the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley started Richmond Confidential, an online news service staffed by graduate students in journalism.

Chevron has also paid for a massive phone call propaganda campaign. Voters in Richmond are getting telephone calls that are thinly disguised as opinion surveys, but are actually attacks on Mayor McLaughlin and other candidates that oppose Chevron’s power grab.

Every day Richmond voters get campaign flyers in the mail paid for by Chevron that viciously attack and lie about McLaughlin and the other progressive candidates. “I have personally received between 20 and 30 mailers from Chevron candidates,” Richmond resident Leon Zhou said at a rally last week.

Chevron’s propaganda accuses Mayor McLaughlin of not doing her job, but in fact, she’s only missed one city council meeting in the past 4 years.

The progressive coalition of community activists, environmentalists and union members has already knocked on thousands of doors to encourage people to vote on November 4. They believe – as progressives always have – that organized people can beat organized money.

Even so, they need money to help sustain their grassroots efforts. They’ve asked supporters to donate to the Richmond Working Families PAC so that they can field enough organizers to knock on every targeted door and get out the vote.

The more voters are aware of Chevron’s efforts to buy this election, the more they support the progressive candidates. Plus, Chevron has made some serious mistakes.

This week the East Bay Express reported that one of the Chevron-backed candidates, Al Martinez, engaged in a variety of criminal deeds while he was a Richmond police officer. Chevron’s political action committee, Moving Forward, has spent $62,000 on behalf of Al Martinez and another $262,000 to attack his chief opponent, Eduardo Martinez, a retired school teacher who is no relation to Al. After the Express reported the charges against Al Martinez, Chevron severed its ties with him.

Chevron has a long history of trying to use its money to peddle political influence. It has spent millions fighting the $9.5 billion in damages it was ordered to pay by the Ecuadorian Supreme Court for pollution of part of the Amazon rainforest.

In national politics, Chevron has made huge contributions this campaign cycle to the National Republican Senatorial and Congressional Committees, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Senator John Cornyn, Senate minority whip as well as an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’, Chevron recently donated $1 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, “a conservative super PAC with ties to Karl Rove’s dark money network.”

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont visited Richmond two weeks ago to lend his support to the progressive slate and the feisty progressive activists who are fighting Chevron’s attempt to buy Richmond’s city government.

“At this profound moment in American history, where the billionaire class wants to get it all, we have got to fight back tooth and nail,” Sanders said to an enthusiastic crowd of about 500 at the Memorial Auditorium. “We cannot allow them to take over Richmond. We cannot allow them to take over America.”

2014 1029 chev 6Richmond Working Families press conference at City Hall, October 23, 2014. (Photo: David Solnit)

At a rally last week, McLaughlin and local residents erected a 10-foot-high sign that said: “Our Election is NOT FOR SALE.” Richmond voters are tired of an avalanche of daily campaign mailers and phone calls, largely paid for by Chevron. “We need to stand up against the corporate money flowing freely into our election,” said Stacey Wilborn, a city employee and member of SEIU local 1021. 

Article source:

Putnam County court records

Putnam County Common Pleas Court

Oct. 16

Daniel J. Stauffer, 19, 7644 Road 15C, Ottawa, pleaded guilty to grand theft. He faces up to 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines. Bond was continued while a presentence investigation is conducted with sentencing set for 3 p.m. Nov. 24.

Oct. 22

Dalton A. McKitrick, 21, 7445 state Route 109, Ottawa, pleaded guilty to grand theft, burglary and possession of drugs. He faces up to 48 months in prison, $12,500 in fines and six months to five years license suspension. Bond was continued while a presentence investigation is conducted with sentencing set for 3:30 p.m. Nov. 24.

New Cases

Fort Jennings State Bank, v. Lucinda L. Nienberg, Columbus Grove; foreclosure.

Putnam County Municipal Court dispositions

Oct. 16

Edward K. Schulte, 53, 5979 Road 18, Continental, pleaded no contest to wrongful entrustment and was found guilty. Sentence: $150 fine.

Oct. 20

Cameshia L. Crawford, 27, 2312 Victor, Lansing, Michigan, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of driving under suspension. Sentence: 10 days jail, suspended, $150 fine. A charge of speeding was dismissed.

Oct. 21

James Ramon Jr., 28, 1800 Oakwood Ave., Napoleon, pleaded guilty to firearms in a motor vehicle. Sentence: 30 days jail, 27 days suspended, $250 fine, with credit for three days jail upon completion of DIP. He was also fined $100 for right-of-way/stop sign and $100 for failure to control.

Tony L. Ackles, 44, 150 Burlington Place, Lima, pleaded guilty to theft. Sentence: 180 days jail, 150 days suspended, $150 fine, barred from Ottawa Wal-Mart for two years, and two years probation.

Joseph R. Shaver, 56, 126 N. High St., Columbus Grove, pleaded no contest to license forfeiture and was found guilty. Sentence: $250 fine.

Marcos Zavala, 20, 717 W. Broadway St., #2, Leipsic, pleaded guilty to OVI second-offense. Sentence: 180 days jail, 120 days suspended, $1,000 fine, $400 suspended, three-year license suspension, complete assessment at Pathways Counseling Center or equivalent agency, two years probation.

Oct. 23

Tyson R. Kerner, 33, 1250 E. Third St., Ottawa, pleaded no contest to domestic violence and was found guilty. Sentence: 180 days jail, 160 days suspended, $500 fine, and complete assessment at Pathways Counseling Center or equivalent agency.

Richard A. Mort, 19, 3922 Allentown Road, Elida, pleaded guilty to telephone harassment. Sentence: 180 days jail, 173 days suspended, $250 fine, complete assessment at Pathways Counseling Center or equivalent agency and no contact with victim for two years.

Putnam County Municipal Court judgments

Oct. 20

Midland Funding, LLC, San Diego, default judgment v. Jennifer Potts, Columbus Grove, $904.52, plus interest and costs.

Midland Funding, LLC, San Diego, default judgment v. Soila Zapata, Ottawa, $821.14, plus interest and costs.

Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, Lima, default judgment v. Tippi S. Turpin, Ottoville, $653.63, plus interest and costs.

Oct. 21

St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, default judgment v. Thomas F. Szegedi, Ottawa, $262.34, plus interest and costs.

Fia Card Services, Newark, Del., default judgment v. Chad A. Heuerman, Cloverdale, $8,396.71, plus interest and costs.

Oct. 23

St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, default judgment v. Katie M. Rayle, Pandora, $97, plus interest and costs.

Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, Lima, default judgment v. Michael S. Slusser, Ottoville, $496.06, plus interest and costs.

St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, default judgment v. Tony Hung, Leipsic, $285.05, plus interest and costs.

St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, default judgment v. Ruperto Rodriguez, Ottawa, and Mary Rodriguez, Ottawa, $2,965.64, plus interest and costs.

Article source:

HOA HOMEFRONT: Partial payments of assessment delinquency are OK – Press

Since the assessment collection procedures were changed by the legislature in 2005, many have questioned whether associations were required to accept partial payments from delinquent members. Most associations and their law firms contended that unless the board and homeowner agreed upon a payment plan, the association could refuse anything less than full payment.

That question was resolved by the appellate court opinion in Huntington Continental Townhomes Association v. Miner, issued Oct. 14.

In that case, homeowner Miner fell behind in his assessments and the association sued, asking for the court to foreclose upon the home. After the lawsuit was filed, Miner and the association agreed on a payment plan. However, Miner defaulted on the payment plan, and later sent a $3,500 check to the association. The payment was about $2,100 short of the full balance, and the association refused the check and proceeded to obtain a judgment against Miner.

The appellate court ruled that the Davis-Stirling Act does not allow associations to refuse partial payments, and that if a homeowner pays enough to reduce the balance below $1,800 or one year of principal, the association’s foreclosure activity must cease. The court pointed out the lien still remains in force, but that foreclosure activity on the lien must cease.

The court noted that even if a homeowner stops foreclosure in this fashion, the association has options – it can proceed with a small claims court action for the funds (small claims court cannot award foreclosure, only money), can pursue a money damages claim in Superior Court, or can wait until the principal balance again reaches one year or $1,800 delinquency.

The court’s opinion, interestingly, acknowledges that some delinquent owners may use this ruling to stall foreclosure by paying just enough to keep the principal balance below the threshold, but that “the Legislature engaged in a balancing process and chose to accept that risk in order to protect owners from foreclosure and the loss of equity in their homes..”

The upshot of the ruling is simple for California associations: If a delinquent homeowner offers money, take it. Credit it first to the principal balance (required under Civil Code Section 5655). Associations pursuing nonjudicial foreclosure must stop that process if the resulting principal balance falls under the threshold. If an association is pursuing judicial foreclosure, the lawsuit can proceed but only for money damages, until the principal balance reaches the threshold.

Associations and delinquent members still should try their best to agree upon reasonable payment plans. Agreed payment plans cut off the hostility and the increasing cost of an ongoing collection process.

If a homeowner plays the partial payment game, trying to stave off foreclosure and make the collection fees seem large compared with the principal balance, this tactic can be brought to the court’s attention to illustrate why the association’s collection costs are reasonable.

Association boards owe it to their community to make sure everyone in the association pays their proper share of the community’s expenses. There is no reason to let this ruling deter that effort – ultimately the owner who plays games with delinquencies usually just increases their debt and problems.

(Readers: See any California statute online at the official state legal web page, or at

Kelly G. Richardson, CCAL, is a member of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Managing Partner of Richardson

Harman Ober PC, a law firm known for community association advice. Send questions to Past columns at All rights reserved.

Contact the writer:

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Consumer Bureau Finds Homeowners Harmed by Loan Companies

The three-year-old U.S. consumer
protection agency said it discovered that the largest mortgage
servicers have been mishandling loan modifications and harming
borrowers since new rules came into effect in January.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau supervisors have made
spot checks to examine the books and practices of bank and
nonbank servicers, the agency said in a report yesterday,
without naming the firms. Supervisors found “substantial
delays” in modifying loans that resulted in “negative
consequences,” such as higher mortgage payments and unjustified
blemishes on borrowers’ credit reports, the report said.

“All borrowers should be treated fairly by loan servicers,
and through our supervision program, we intend to hold them
accountable,” Richard Cordray, the CFPB director, said in a

The consumer bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank law and
empowered to rid the mortgage industry of abusive practices,
rolled out regulations that took effect this year. The bureau is
examining the compliance of the rapidly expanding servicing
industry as a New York regulator bears down on its biggest
nonbank participant, Ocwen Financial Corp. (OCN), whose shares have
plunged this year.

“The CFPB had tread lightly, relatively speaking, in
mortgage servicing enforcement thus far as the rules went
effective in January,” Isaac Boltansky, an analyst with Compass
Point LLC in Washington, said in an e-mail. The report suggests
that the agency is “re-emphasizing mortgage servicer compliance
which means that the regulatory environment is unlikely to
improve in the near-term.”

Robert van Raaphorst, a spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers
Association, declined to comment about the report.

$9.4 Trillion Market

The CFPB was created after Wall Street lobbied against it,
warning that a new agency would impose regulations that would
constrict the flow of credit to consumers. Elizabeth Warren, now
a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, helped set up the
bureau, in part by arguing that the mortgage banking posed a
threat to ordinary homeowners. During the housing boom between
2004 and 2007, lenders provided about $2 trillion in subprime
loans, many to unqualified borrowers that later went bad.

Today, the business of collecting mortgage payments is
undergoing a transformation as large banks retreat from the $9.4
trillion market, selling servicing rights to nonbanks such as
Ocwen and Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. (NSM) Ocwen has more than
tripled the number of loans it services in the last two years to
$426 billion, or 4.3 percent of the market.

Ocwen Settlement

The consumer bureau reached a $2.1 billion settlement with
Ocwen in December over its allegations that the company “took
advantage of borrowers at every step of the process.” CFPB
alleged that Ocwen failed to apply payments made by borrowers in
a timely manner and didn’t provide accurate information about
loan modification options. Ocwen didn’t admit or deny

Walter Investment (WAC) Management, and its Green Tree Servicing
unit, faces a possible enforcement action from CFPB as well, the
company reported in February.

The agency is now monitoring the largest servicers for
compliance with rules that require them to abide by safeguards
to keep people in their homes. More penalties could be imposed
as a result of the supervision, Boltansky said.

After the rules were enacted in January, Steven Antonakes,
the deputy director and head of supervision at CFPB, warned loan
servicers that they had to improve their practices.

Unacceptable Treatment

“Too many customers continue to receive erratic and
unacceptable treatment,” he said in a February speech at a
Mortgage Bankers Association conference. “Our nation’s mortgage
servicers manage a debt portfolio of nearly $10 trillion for
millions of American homeowners. This kind of continued
sloppiness is difficult to comprehend and not acceptable.”

The bureau’s supervisors found that an undisclosed number
of servicers didn’t convert trial mortgage modifications into
permanent ones in a timely fashion.

Borrowers apply for — and servicers grant — modifications
to reduce their monthly payment and interest rate, avoid
foreclosure and keep mortgage assets performing. A trial
modification, which often lasts three months, is a chance for
homeowners to demonstrate they can meet the payments
consistently, which results in a permanent change.

When servicers delayed such conversions, borrowers accrued
interest at the original higher rate. The servicers then added
that interest into the principal balance, raising the ultimate
cost of the loan, CFPB found.

Mortgage Investors

The servicers also reported to credit agencies, such as
Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, that mortgages were delinquent
during the period in which the companies delayed converting them
to permanent modifications.

At least one servicer sent permanent loan modification
agreements to borrowers who signed and returned them, only to
find they later received new agreements with “materially
different” terms.

“These misrepresentations about the available terms
affected the ultimate payment the borrowers would make,
influencing both whether they would accept the modification and
how they could subsequently budget based on their expected
payment,” according to the report.

Douglas Harter, an analyst with Credit Suisse AG, said CFPB
statements like those in the report increase uncertainty for
mortgage investors because they don’t know whether the agency
has identified new, systemic problems.

Flagstar Settlement

“Everyone is going for the same zero-defect outcome, but I
don’t think anyone comes close to achieving that,” Harter said.
“What is the pervasiveness of the errors, or is it a one-off?”

The bureau reached a $37.5 million settlement with Troy,
Michigan-based Flagstar Bank in September over allegations it
blocked borrowers’ attempts to save their homes. The agency
barred Flagstar from acquiring new mortgage servicing rights
until it complies with regulations, making good on an August
promise to scrutinize rights transfers. Flagstar didn’t admit or
deny wrongdoing.

Benjamin Lawsky, the New York superintendent of financial
services, is probing several parts of Atlanta-based Ocwen’s
business, including possible conflicts of interest. On Oct. 21,
Lawsky said in a letter that he was examining Ocwen’s backdating
of letters to struggling borrowers, making it impossible for
them to appeal denials for loan modifications.

Ocwen has said it is cooperating with Lawsky’s several
probes. In an Oct. 24 letter to homeowners, the company
apologized for what it called the inadvertent backdating and
said it was investigating the cause and would ensure that no
borrower would suffer as a result of the mistake.

An Ocwen spokesman declined to comment on the bureau’s

After reaching a record high of $59.97 in 2013, Ocwen’s
shares are down 65 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Carter Dougherty in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Vincent Bielski at;
Maura Reynolds at
Rob Urban

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City’s tax sale foreclosure process must be reformed

In Baltimore City, a homeowner can lose her home through tax sale foreclosure for as little as $250 in delinquent property taxes or $350 in delinquent water bills. Unlike a mortgage foreclosure, a homeowner generally receives no compensation for loss of equity, even if the value of the property exceeds the amount of taxes due.

The Baltimore Tax Sale Working Group, a diverse coalition of public and private organizations, is working to better understand and fix this broken system and has recommended a series of reforms, including increasing the threshold amount of unpaid bills that can trigger a tax sale.

lRelated Harford's annual sale of tax liens brings in $972,000
Bel AirHarford’s annual sale of tax liens brings in $972,000See all related

Such sales disproportionately affect vulnerable homeowners and those on fixed incomes who are likely to experience unexpected budget crises. For instance, several months ago, a low-income homeowner with no homeowner’s insurance sought help from Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore when he faced tax sale due to several environmental liens stemming from a fire in his home. The Tax Sale Working group was able to piece together legal representation, a small loan and weatherization funds to keep the man in his home. Unfortunately, most homeowners are not so lucky.

The average homeowner is not represented by an attorney, and the ones who do come through the doors generally do not understand how the tax sale process works, paving the way for lien purchasers to take advantage of them. At the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC), volunteer attorneys provide free assistance to at-risk homeowners. We find homeowners are sometimes charged fees above the maximum allowed under Maryland law or receive no notice or faulty notice about the tax sale process. PBRC’s average tax sale prevention client has lived in her home for 21 years, developing significant equity that can all be swept away by one delinquent payment.

Baltimore’s current tax sale system is more than just a process by which the city collects unpaid taxes — private investors can profit by buying tax liens and collecting 18 percent interest along with myriad other fees, sometimes from Baltimore’s poorest citizens. Unpaid taxes and bills owed to the city are sold as liens to investors in an annual tax sale, and six months later, investors can seek to foreclose on the house.

After the tax sale, if the homeowner wishes to keep her home, she must navigate the complicated and confusing redemption process, which is laden with pitfalls and huge fees. PBRC’s tax sale prevention clients had an average yearly income of only $21,000 but often faced a redemption payment of several thousand dollars, an insurmountable obstacle for these homeowners struggling to get by.

Tax sales also exacerbate Baltimore’s vacant property problem in three ways. First, the tax sale system provides a cheap means for speculators to snatch up properties, incentivizing property flipping and other forms of irresponsible ownership. Second, the tax sale prevents reinvestment when tax sale certificate purchasers walk away from recording a new deed, creating problems with title. Finally, vacant properties cycle through tax sale year after year, piling up liens which no one will ever pay.

As further explained in a report recently released by the Abell Foundation, “The Steep Price of Paying to Stay,” the Working Group has drawn from recent reforms in other cities to recommend the following:

•The city and state need to create separate protections for owner-occupied properties, increasing the threshold amount of delinquent taxes that places an owner-occupied property into tax sale and implementing installment payments for delinquent tax bills.

•The City Council should lower the 18 percent interest rate on the tax liens. The current rate invites investor speculation and unfairly burdens homeowners seeking to redeem.

•Water liens should be exempt from the tax sale in Baltimore City, as they are in other cities.

•Distressed homeowners should be informed about available resources and referred to available legal services by an ombudsman.

•Homeowners should receive better notice and the redemption process should be streamlined.

The current tax sale system profits investors and increases vacancies at the expense of the city’s neighborhoods and poorest citizens. If handled appropriately, tax sales can be an effective means to fairly collect revenue for the city and reduce vacancies in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. But reform is needed and it is long overdue.

Margaret Henn is the foreclosure prevention manager at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland; her email is Robin Jacobs (Community Law Center), Lonni Summers (Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service) and Dan Ellis (Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore) contributed to this op-ed.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun

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