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Going … gone


OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino. The 300 block of Central Avenue.

Six properties in downtown Dunkirk have a new owner, but not an unfamiliar one.

Promptly at 11 a.m. Tuesday, the public auction for 324-330, 332, 334-336, 338 and 609 Central Ave. and 605 Lark St. began at Chautauqua County Court with a reading of the legal terms for the auction by referee Arc J. Petricca, a lawyer from Buffalo.

The properties were put to public auction after the owner, the United Secular American Center for the Disabled Inc., defaulted on its mortgage with the trust of Robert K. Lesser and a complaint of commercial foreclosure was filed in late November. The court passed a judgment of foreclosure in June. The estimated amount owed was set at $470,378.77 plus interest and costs.

Several interested parties attended the auction, including investors Richard Morrisroe of Lackawanna and Chris Williams of Tonawanda, Central Station Owner Kathleen Dennison, and Lesser’s sons James Best of Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Stanton Lesser of Connecticut.

Petricca first asked for bids on the six parcels as one lot. The trust, represented by Phillips Lytle of Rochester attorney Richard Evans, entered an opening bid of $480,000. No other bids followed.

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino. The Stearns Building, 324-330 Central Ave.

Under the rules of the auction, separate parcels would be put out to auction, but bids would only be awarded if the aggregate exceeded the bid for the whole lot. There were no bids, but since Dennison had expressed interest in 332 Central Ave. and Morrisroe is looking for a storefront for his law practice, Stanton Lesser and Best said they would speak to them during their tour of the buildings that afternoon. Dunkirk Development Director Rebecca Yanus was also on hand to offer assistance filling the downtown storefronts with new small businesses.

Best, an architect, said they plan to fix up the properties.

“Should we keep the buildings, which it seems like we are, we’ve told everybody that we will keep them in pristine condition and do whatever it takes to renovate the buildings as necessary.

“We already authorized work to be done on the roof because there were problems there, even without owning it. We have no intention of letting it get run down,” he said. There are “for lease” signs in all of the empty storefront windows.

Evans told the OBSERVER, from this point the referee will prepare the deed and it will be recorded in the Chautauqua County Clerk’s Office within 30 days.

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino. 609 Central Avenue.

Prior to the meeting, Sharif Rahman, president of the center, attempted to stop the auction because a notice of appeal had been filed. Evans explained that only a court order could stop the auction or subsequent deed process, however, the process to perfect an appeal can take up to nine months and is also costly and arduous.

“Many file notices of appeal are filed, those who perfect them are far less,” he said.

The center — a nonreligious, nonpolitical not-for-profit based out of New Jersey with a mission of helping individuals with disabilities, especially those who do not speak English — also purchased the former Ehler’s building at 400 Central Ave., and the former School 10 at 201 Lake Shore Drive E. in July 2016. However, those properties are not a part of this process.

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Bank of America to Pay $6 Million to Bankrupt Couple Evicted From Home

Bank of America Corp. has agreed to pay more than $6 million to a California couple whom a federal judge said had been harassed and illegally foreclosed upon by the bank’s mortgage unit, ending an eight-year-long dispute.

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The proposed settlement between the bank and Erik and Renee Sundquist would enable them “to end a long personal and legal nightmare that has impacted every facet of their and their sons’ lives,” according to court papers the couple filed to request that their 2014 lawsuit against the bank be dropped.

The deal calls for Bank of America to pay a fraction of the fine of more than $46 million ordered by Judge Christopher Klein in March. In his ruling, the judge said the bank’s mortgage modification process and mistaken foreclosure on the Sundquists’ home in Lincoln, Calif., left them in “a state of battle-fatigued demoralization.”

The exact amount that the bank will pay the Sundquists is confidential, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento. The earlier order called for the bank to pay the couple nearly $6.1 million in damages.

The couple had stopped making mortgage payments in March 2009 after Bank of America officials said they wouldn’t consider loan modifications for customers who were current on payments. In the following years, their roughly 20 loan-modification requests were “routinely either lost or declared insufficient, or incomplete or stale or in need of resubmission or denied without comprehensible explanation,” the judge’s ruling said.

The couple filed for bankruptcy in June 2010. Filings halt foreclosure sales, but the judge said the bank still improperly took over the home and gave them a three-day eviction notice. The couple moved out, and Ms. Sundquist was hospitalized with stress-related symptoms of a heart attack several weeks later.

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Bank of America officials eventually reversed the sale. The couple moved back in several months later and received a $20,000 fine from their homeowner association for dead landscaping, the ruling said.

The 107-page court opinion included excerpts from Renee Sundquist’s journal that documented harassing visits from bank-related officials and Mr. Sundquist’s suicide attempt after the couple discussed their frustrations over the house.

The request this week to drop the lawsuit still needs approval from Judge Klein, who agreed to discuss the settlement at a Sept. 12 hearing.

“Their physical and emotional health deteriorates each day they are forced to endure the uncertainty of an outcome that will enable them to repair their lives and the lives of their children,” their lawyer wrote in the request. “They do not have the ability to participate in further litigation and appeals without grave costs to their health and quality of life.”

The settlement would enable the bank to avoid paying a court-ordered $40 million donation to five law schools associated with the University of California system and two consumer advocacy nonprofits, the National Consumer Law Center and the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center. It’s not clear whether the groups will receive any money from the confidential settlement.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment Thursday. Lawyers who represented the law schools and the nonprofits in the case did not respond to requests for comment.

At the time of the ruling, legal experts praised Judge Klein’s mandatory donation, saying it could help other judges who struggle with how to issue a damages award large enough to make a corporate giant stop bad behavior but not to overcompensate plaintiffs. Outsize legal awards can often trigger an appeal for excessive damages.

In the ruling, Judge Klein said the fine was meant to be large enough that it wouldn’t “be laughed off in the boardroom as petty cash or ‘chump change.’”

In Tuesday’s request, the Sundquists said they “support the court’s message to the bank” but worried about what could happen to the damages amount during the appeals process.

“They also recognize that the court’s intentions could backfire if an appellate court reduced the financial cost of the bank’s stay violations, ” their lawyer said in court papers.

Write to Katy Stech at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 17, 2017 16:08 ET (20:08 GMT)

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Zach Henson Staff Writer Troy residents will be able to view an 80 to 90 percent solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A solar eclipse is the moon passing in between the earth and the sun, explained Maurice Clark, assistant professor of astronomy. The path of totality, a narrow strip in which the sun will be completely blocked by the moon, will cover at least part of 14 states, the closest of which is Georgia. “There’s usually two total solar eclipses, […]

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Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 12:00 am

Updated: 9:29 pm, Wed Aug 16, 2017.




Default having been made in the terms of that certain Mortgage, executed on the 12/21/2007, by John H. Thorpe , as Mortgagor, to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc as nominee for Homestar Financial Corporation as Mortgagee, which said Mortgage is recorded in the Office of the Judge of Probate, Bullock County, Alabama, in Book 365, Page 137 on 12/27/2007, and subsequently assigned to Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC and recorded in the Office of the Judge of Probate, Bullock County, Alabama on in Book 389, Page 705, and default having continued under the terms of said Mortgage, and by virtue of Alabama Code Section 35-10-3 and 35-10-2, the following described real property will be sold at public outcry, for cash, to the highest bidder, in front of the Courthouse door of said County, during the legal hours of sale, on 9/7/2017.


Subject to all easements, restrictions and reservations appearing of record. Said sale will also be made subject to any Federal Tax Liens and/or Special Assessments of any nature, if any, which might adversely affect the title to the property.

Alabama law gives some persons who have an interest in property the right to redeem the property under certain circumstances. Programs may also exist that help persons avoid or delay the foreclosure process. An attorney should be consulted to help you understand these rights and programs as a part of the foreclosure process.

The property is being sold “as is, where is”. Said property is sold without warranty or recourse, expressed or implied as to title, use or enjoyment.

This sale is made for the purpose of paying the indebtedness secured by said mortgage, as well as the expenses of foreclosure.



Attorney for Mortgage Holder

126 Government Street

Mobile, AL 36602

Union Springs Herald

8/16, 8/23, 8/30

  • Discuss


Wednesday, August 16, 2017 12:00 am.

Updated: 9:29 pm.

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Zach Henson Staff Writer Troy residents will be able to view an 80 to 90 percent solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A solar eclipse is the moon passing in between the earth and the sun, explained Maurice Clark, assistant professor of astronomy. The path of totality, a narrow strip in which the sun will be completely blocked by the moon, will cover at least part of 14 states, the closest of which is Georgia. “There’s usually two total solar eclipses, […]

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Local foreclosure filings tick up in July, reversing recent trend – Winston

Whenever Richard Craver posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

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‘RHONJ’ star Jacqueline Laurita’s home back in foreclosure, up for …

A year ago, erstwhile “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Jacqueline Laurita and her husband Chris dug themselves out of foreclosure. But court records show that their lender has reinstituted foreclosure proceedings against the couple for their Franklin Lakes home, apparently leading them to relist the home for $2.3 million

Laurita, an original “RHONJ” cast member who is not returning to the show for its upcoming eighth season, bought the custom-built six-bedroom home in 2001 for $1.72 million. She and her husband listed it for $2.85 million in 2014, later revealing to the show’s viewers that they had been having financial problems they blamed on their youngest son Nicholas’ costly therapy for autism. (They did not mention a long-running lawsuit over Chris’ business bankruptcy in which they are accused of using company funds to furnish their lavish lifestyle.) 

In 2015, their lenders initiated foreclosure proceedings against the couple, saying they had not made the $10,846 monthly payment since October 2014. But in June 2016, the foreclosure was dismissed — which coincided with Laurita’s return to full-time status on the show.

But in July, records obtained by show MT Bank and Hudson City Savings Bank filed notice of foreclosure with the Superior Court in Bergen County. This week, the couple relisted the house. 

Marketing materials for the home, which has been seen repeatedly on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” over the years, describe a “freshly renovated” two-story entry foyer and library, with a great room, kitchen with commercial range, wine fridge and walk-in pantry, and a master suite with two walk-in custom closets and jetted tub. The finished walk-out basement features a playroom, wine cellar and card room, office and full bath. The security system includes night vision cameras. Property taxes are about $36,000 a year. 

Laurita revealed in the spring that she is not coming back for the upcoming season because producers felt she no longer has “an authentic connection” to the show’s other stars, notably Teresa Giudice, with whom she has had a series of falling-outs.  

Bravo has not yet announced when the show is returning or who is among the official cast, but it is believed to be Giudice, her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga, pals Dolores Catania and Siggy Flicker, original “RHONJ” star Danielle Staub, and newcomer Margaret Joseph. 

Vicki Hyman may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @vickihy or like her on Facebook

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Last Word: Ouster History, Lake District in Foreclosure and Crosstown

Bill Dries

By Bill Dries

Updated 11:42PM

Five of the seven flags that fly on the southern tip of Mud Island River Park are folded and stored as of Thursday. The Riverfront Development Corporation took down the five flags that have flown over the turf we now call Memphis – before and since it became a city – including a version of the Confederate flag – leaving only the U.S. flag and the Tennessee flag. This was a reaction to the week-long and counting aftermath from the violence in Charlottesville.

It’s not the first time a Confederate flag has been lowered at the set of flagpoles on the southern end of the park. The better-known “Stars and Bars” rebel flag that once flew on Mud Island was removed decades ago during a local controversy about Confederate symbols.

Here’s a round up of where the local reaction on this question is as the week is about to end. And there is every indication this will be a busy weekend on several fronts of the local face of this national issue. Our piece also looks specifically at Mayor Jim Strickland’s point about his oath of office and what happens if he gives an order that is judged at some point to be a violation of state law – notably the state law against removing Confederate monuments. A previous Memphis Mayor has been ousted for refusing to enforce a state law – a very well-known Memphis Mayor even 100 years after the fact.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee questions President Donald Trump’s competence and ability to accurately read the nation’s sentiment. His harshest criticism of Trump yet, made during a Thursday recess speech in Chattanooga, yet there was what some commentators have called “wiggle room” in his remarks. Here is the Huffington Post take.

And while Trump went after two other Republican Senators Thursday for criticism of him, he has not done that with Corker – at least as of around 11 p.m. Thursday Memphis time. Covered? Covered.

Memphis Cong. Steve Cohen says he is drawing up articles of impeachment for Trump based on several days of conflicting Trump react to Charlottesville and white supremacy and Confederate monuments.

Lakeland’s ambitious Lake District project , a mixed-use development of the 160-acre site of the old Belz Outlet Mall and surrounding property is off about a year and a half after the California-based developer, Yehuda Netanel and his Gilad Development company, unveiled the plan. The property is due to be sold in foreclosure Sept. 8 on the steps of the Judge D’Army Bailey Courthouse.

Meanwhile, the parking garage part of the Bakery Project clears the Downtown Parking Authority with the City Council and County Commission the next stop. And Henry Turley gets involved in the improvements to the railroad overpass at Central Station.

The National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Awards is moving to the Orpheum in October as the Memphis Cook Convention Center prepares for renovations. And the award recipients are a trio that reflect the awards move to cross generational lines.

In the Friday Sports Section:

Don Wade’s Press Box column is about baseball’s “real” home run records and this season’s contender to break those records.

The Tigers offensive line working hard in the heat in advance of the season opener at the Liberty Bowl.

Meanwhile, the University of Memphis extending and adding to a season football ticket discount for recent alums. The offer is good through Aug. 30.

Trouble for a former Tiger athlete.

David Climer on freshman running backs – three of them – for Big Orange football.

Associated Press on the Tennessee Supreme Court decision allowing attorneys for two former UT football players to get a look at social media communications from witnesses in their upcoming rape trial.

“Behind The Headlines” is a discussion about the Fairgrounds with Fred Jones Jr. of the Southern Heritage Classic, Marvin Stockwell of Friends of the Fairgrounds and Paul Young of the city’s Housing and Community Development Division. It’s a really good discussion of what happens next and why. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. on WKNO TV.

The cover story in the new issue of our weekly, The Memphis News, is all about Crosstown – Crosstown Concourse and Sears Crosstown and how both were made. The PDF of the new issue is already up on this very website. The hard copies are on the street Friday morning. The cover story goes online Friday afternoon.

And here is our Daily News advancer on Saturday’s formalities at Crosstown Concourse.

A possible first treatment for ALS and a related form of dementia known as FTD. That could be the upshot of new research at St. Jude and the Mayo Clinic where an ALS breakthrough has identified the mechanism in ALS that kills neurons. The finding from the collaboration were published this week in “Neuron,” a scientific journal.

Lawsuit filed in Nashville over the White County arrangement to reduce sentences there if those convicted agree to undergo sterilization procedures.

In the digging a deeper hole department… In an attempt to be clever when last we met, my note on Health Sciences Park and UT Health Science Center ended with the phrase Faux Pas Corrige, which I thought was French for mistake corrected based on a French translation of the word corrected, assuming faux pas was mistake and that part of the translation was covered. Not so. Faux pas corrige translates to fake not corrected. The proper French translation is Erreur corrigee. The first way sounded better but alors ca va.

Rhodes College opens its 169th academic year Friday which is the first convocation for the college’s recently-named president Marjorie Hass. By the numbers, 516 first-year students on campus in the class of 2021. They come to the city from 41 states and 69 percent of them come from outside Tennessee. The largest group of students from outside Tennessee are from Texas, followed by Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Missouri.

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Foreclosure sale set for Lake District site; mayor slams ‘clown show’

Lenders have filed a foreclosure sale notice for the land where the Lake District mixed-use development is planned in Lakeland, opening the door for the city’s mayor to adamantly say he’s through dealing with the project.

Mayor Wyatt Bunker criticized the development’s leader — Yehuda Netanel of Gilad Development — saying he was tired of the applicant stringing the city along with false promises and pie-in-the-sky hopes on the project without any financial reassurances.

“I’m ending the clown show that he’s created,” Bunker said Thursday afternoon. “I couldn’t do this before because there wasn’t any clear indication in black and white that he wasn’t paying his bills. There wasn’t a clear indication that he didn’t have the financial means to move forward.

“Now that I have that in black and white, I’m not his convenient excuse for why he had to bail on this project. He has to prove to us that he can move forward.”

The foreclosure sale is slated for Sept. 8 on the Shelby County Courthouse steps.

Bunker’s comments came after the foreclosure sale notice — a surprise to city officials — raised questions about the financial stability of the project destined for the former Belz Factory Outlet Mall on the southeast quadrant of Interstate 40 and Canada Road. 

Bunker repeated his thoughts to the suburb’s Industrial Development Board at a special meeting Thursday evening. At the urging of Bunker and Commissioner Josh Roman, the board deferred action on a development contract for the project, deciding to withhhold any endorsement of the project until after the tentative Sept. 8 foreclosure sale date.

Netanel asked the board not to delay its blessing saying the action would stymie negotiations with potential tenants. In the end the IDB was not swayed, unanimously deferring its action until its Sept. 28 meeting to see if the financial status of the project was more stable.

After the vote, Netanel said his development team “will continue to work on it, just like they did (Wednesday), and just like we will (Friday) to make sure that everything is continuing the way it should.

“This will all be forgotten within two weeks.”

The vote ended a day that started with the foreclosure sale surfacing and the stark comments. Some city officials were trying to gauge the impact of the latest financial development on the project when Bunker, in a less-than-political tone, said he was tired of Netanel’s promises, and it was time to put the whole thing to an end. He said the California-based applicant has sent the city and its residents on an emotional roller-coaster with visions of grandeur about the possibility of a project that would change the face of Lakeland.

He said he had doubts about the project from the start.

“It would be a bigger surprise to me if it is successful,” Bunker said.


► Developer unveils mixed-use plan for old mall site in Lakeland

► Lake District dream moving through process

The Lake District is a proposed 160-acre project that spreads from the old mall site and annex buildings to a vacant area south of the empty mall. Netanel unveiled the concept at a public meeting in April 2016. Plans called for everything from big box retailers to residences, a theater, farmers market and restaurants. Lakes and open areas would provide the project with a town-center feel.

The project would be a walkable concept that could eliminate the eyesore of a vacant mall site and replace it with a viable development encompassing a lot of uses for the suburb.

Netanel said at the time of the presentation he hoped to begin construction by the end of 2016 with completion by the next summer.

Since then, there has been little, if any, work at the site.

David Smith of A2H, which has worked with Netanel on the project, was unaware of the foreclosure Thursday afternoon. “That’s news to me,” he said, adding they were working on design of the project and preparing for some site work.

In May, Netanel convinced city officials that the project was moving forward enough that the Board of Commissioners granted a one-year extension to the deadline regarding the tax incentive financing for the project.

Netanel also said arrangements were being worked out for Hilton Hotels to have a spot in the project. And, he said there would be a “demolition party” to raze the shell of the old Outlet Mall by the end of the year, “well before Thanksgiving,” he said.

Bunker said he views all of the announcements as empty promises, and he’s done with helping Netanel unless he sees something more concrete.

“I’m not for approving another thing to keep his hopes and dreams propped up or to keep his financing propped up,” Bunker said. “The best thing for this project may be that he go back to California, and we address moving forward however best suits the city of Lakeland.”


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Worst-Case Housing Needs Approach Record Levels – CityLab

The $6.8 billion in cuts to HUD funding that the Trump administration proposed in its fiscal year 2018 budget would eliminate whole categories of housing aid for millions of families, including rental housing vouchers (Section 8) for more than 250,000 households. Absent some emergency intervention, the cuts to vouchers alone could thrust many thousand of families into crisis and homelessness.

Representative David Price, the ranking member on the U.S. House Appropriation Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development condemned the Trump administration’s planned budget cuts in light of HUD’s findings. The North Carolina Democrat says that the report “offers further evidence of the affordable housing crisis facing our country—and the Trump Administration’s failure to take it seriously, let alone to address it.”

Yet the Trump administration’s budget goes further: The president’s budget proposal eliminates the national Housing Trust Fund, a national program designed specifically to provide housing aid to America’s lowest-income households. As Price notes, this figure includes a staggering 2.9 million families with children, many of whom are living in unsafe, substandard housing.

The Housing Trust Fund’s novelty lies in how it’s funded. It’s not a taxpayer-subsidized program; instead, a fraction of sales through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (4.2 basis points, or 0.042 percent) gets set aside for the Housing Trust Fund. In 2016, its first fully operational year, the fund distributed $174 million to housing agencies all around the country. With a buoyant economy, that figure climbed to $219 million for 2017.

The thinnest silver lining to soaring home prices nationwide—up 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2017—is that the purse for the national Housing Trust Fund grows accordingly. With rents rising, the number of families who depend on these stop-gap safety-net funds are bound to eclipse record levels. “Yet the Trump/Carson budget proposal for HUD foolishly zeroes out funding for the national Housing Trust Fund and other programs created to fix this exact problem,” Price says.

That’s why Congress needs to take a close look at the budget cuts that President Trump has planned for housing and other social programs. The Housing Trust Fund, in particular, is all upside: Eliminating that program won’t save homeowners an appreciable amount of money, but it will cause a great deal of harm to those who have nothing.

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