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Legal Advice: HOAs Can Foreclose 11/30/16 – Story –

Despite what ANYONE tells you, 2nd mortgages and home equity lines of credit, and HOA’s can and DO foreclose. If you get a foreclosure notice NEVER ignore it. Take advantage of “free consultation” policies and have an attorney explain the process, your rights, and what you can do to stop the foreclosure.

This legal advice is brought to you by Peters and Associates

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These N.J. Companies Potentially Defrauded Thousands Of New Jerseyans: AG

Several New Jersey individuals and their companies defrauded potentially thousands of financially strapped people in the state, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General.

These companies defrauded people who paid for mortgage foreclosure rescue services to save their homes from foreclosure, according to the release.

Three people, through a company called MVP Home Solutions LLC and its associated entities, charged substantial monthly fees for debt adjustment and foreclosure consulting, according to the release.

But they failed to perform the promised services, according to a complaint filed in Superior Court.

“We alleged these defendants shamelessly exploited homeowners who were drowning in mortgage debt and desperate to hang onto their homes; charging them up to $1,625 a month in exchange for foreclosure rescue services that were never provided,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in the release.

Instead of helping homeowners out of their financial crises, the defendants allegedly made it worse by causing people to fall further behind on their mortgages as they paid for undelivered services with money that could have been applied to their mortgages.

The three accused of fraud are:

  • Marcus A. Mullings, Jr. of Fort Lee
  • Talia Stephen-Mullings of Fort Lee
  • Jessie Sanders, of West Orange
  • Mullings, Stephen-Mullings and Sanders, and their companies – MVP Solutions LLC, Stay In or Walk Away LLC, SIHOWA LLC and Sanders Associates, LLC, – are named as defendants in the nine-count complaint.

    According to the complaint, the defendants were not licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance, as required by law, to act as debt adjusters or foreclosure consultants.

    In doing business as MVP Home Solutions and other companies, the defendants charged consumers substantial monthly fees for debt adjustment and foreclosure relief services but failed to take any meaningful action on consumers’ behalf, the complaint states.

    Under New Jersey law, only not-for-profit companies can be licensed to perform debt adjustment services such as negotiating with a bank concerning a homeowner’s mortgage, and only certain licensed professionals are permitted to provide foreclosure consultant services.

    The complaint alleges the defendants misled and deceived consumers through the advertisement and sale of purported services offered through three programs:

    • The “Stay in Your Home” program which charged consumers monthly payments of $995 to $1,625 in exchange for promised services that included asserting legal defenses and forensic tactics, negotiating the purchase of their mortgage notes at a discount, and providing them with a new, lower-cost mortgage. Under the program, 60 percent of the monthly payments was to have been credited to the new mortgage payment, upon issuance of the new loan.
    • The “Walk Away Free Clear” program that charged consumers monthly payments of $995 to $1,625 in exchange for promised services that included asserting legal defenses and negotiating the sale of their homes and release of their mortgage loans (i.e. short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure sale).
    • The “Stop the Sale Date” program that charged consumers $1,095 upon signing, and $995 a month thereafter for a period of up to two years, in exchange for the promised service of stopping an imminent foreclosure sale.

    The defendants misrepresented the services they would perform and falsely claimed that they would assert legal defenses, employ forensic accounting tools and/or utilize their expertise to pressure lenders to delay foreclosure proceedings or reduce the amount of the mortgage debt, according to the complaint.

    In reality, the defendants’ only contact with consumers’ lenders was in sending a “cease and desist” letter, according to the complaint.

    The complaint additionally alleges the defendants engaged in unconscionable commercial practices and other violations of state laws and regulations by:

    • Failing to fully inform consumers about the programs in which they were being enrolled.
    • Representing, directly or indirectly, that they were acting as an advisor or a consultant, or otherwise representing they were acting on behalf of consumers to provide debt adjustment, foreclosure consulting and/or other foreclosure rescue-related services, when such is not the case.
    • Obtaining Credit Report Authorization and Privacy Disclosure Forms from consumers, then failing to obtain credit reports and evaluate consumers’ financial obligations.
    • Obtaining the ownership of consumers’ homes for far less than the homes’ market values (e.g. $10) through the execution of “Quit Claim Deeds” and under the guise that such was necessary to negotiate the sale of consumers’ mortgage notes with their lenders, or to complete a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.
    • Representing on their website that when they collect monthly payments from consumers, they “do not realize a profit until we are successful,” when such is not the case.
    • Representing in communications from sales affiliates to consumers that “by utilizing our systems you will save tens of thousands of dollars that would have gone to the monthly rent payments, rent deposit, and moving costs,” when such is not the case.
    • As part of the “Stop the Sale Date” program, signing consumers’ names and providing false addresses in pro se bankruptcy petitions filed in Bankruptcy Court.
    • Filing a bankruptcy proceeding on a consumer’s behalf without the consumer’s knowledge or consent.

    The complaint seeks consumer restitution; the appointment of a receiver, at the defendants’ expense, to assume control over their assets, render a full accounting and sell and/or convey such assets to restore money or property to affected consumers; reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs; and civil penalties, according to the release.

    Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business or suspect any other form of consumer abuse can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

    Patch file photo, Shutterstock

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    Stop Mocking Trump’s Rallies — And Start Imitating Them

    The cliche that remains to describe Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is that it “broke all the rules.” And it did, possibly even the “Logan Act.”

    A verbally incontinent, banally bigoted con artist proved that four decades of fame, a Twitter account, and a Republican Party in moral foreclosure (with lots of help from foreign hackers and a compromised FBI Director) was just enough to eke out a “victory” and become a minority president, despite losing the popular vote by a margin larger than the population of 15 of our states… and counting.

    Most of Trump’s sordid campaign — its know-nothingness, its scapegoating, and its middle-school-style smearing of opponents — might leave you with the impression that there’s nothing to learn from his contemptible act. But then you, like me and nearly every human being who made any sort of prediction in 2016, would be wrong.

    His fact-free framing and shameless repetition of simple themes were tactics that Democrats will have to counter. And his campaign also achieved another breakthrough that can’t be ignored.

    “Over 3,000,000 confirmed tickets were issued for @realDonaldTrump rallies,” Brad Parscale, Digital Director for the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign, tweeted late last month.

    Trump’s rallies often seemed like commercials from an anti-Trump campaign. They were rabid, unruly, and centered on slogans designed to alienate specific voters. You could almost smell them through the TV. The idea that his rallies substituted for the granular, targeted campaign the Clinton campaign was running seemed mockable.

    But, in the end, they worked. You could even argue that they were key.

    “When you really drill down on this election, if you change the vote in five counties, four in Florida, one in Michigan, we’d be having a totally opposite conversation right now,” Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio said last week. “For all the money that was spent, for the all the effort that was made, literally four counties in Florida, one county in Michigan puts us at 261 [electoral] votes and makes Hillary Clinton the president. So, remember that.”

    President Obama won Macomb County in 2008 and 2012. Trump carried it by 50,000 votes and won the state of Michigan by just about 10,000.  The GOP nominee visited the Mitten, which Democrats have won in every presidential election since 1992, more than half a dozen times. One of his last rallies of the campaign was in Macomb. Showing up helped, but it wasn’t enough.

    Don’t think of Trump’s rallies as normal political events. They were more like Internet comment sections come to life.

    Over the last two decades, online comments and forums have provided a safe space for all sorts of dialogue — though they tend to quickly descend into name-calling, racism, sexism, and someone typing “black-on-black crime” statistics in ALL CAPS. This online underbelly prospered even as America became more tolerant of the LGBTQ community and elected a black president twice, while “political correctness” was said to be spreading rampantly, threatening individuality, free speech, and Christmas.

    Apparently, being allowed to be purposely offensive on millions of web pages wasn’t enough.

    White dudes and their wives wanted to wear “Fuck Your Feelings” and “Trump That Bitch” shirts in public as they screamed in the faces of the lame-stream media that covered up ACORN and invented climate change. Trump’s rallies gave them a chance to do that.

    That kind of behavior is easy to mock. I just did it! But Trump’s rallies also represented something bigger for Americans who felt alienated from an electorate that sent Obama to the White House twice — a chance to participate in the process without being bored as hell.

    Bill Mitchell was a generic local conservative radio star host until he became the official spokesman for the blind optimism of Trump true believers, which never faded even as Trump trailed in the polls and the models of the polls and the models of the models of the polls; basically, until Election Day. Mitchell was widely ridiculed for tweeting that Trump’s ground game was “in our hearts.”

    Turns out that it was — and also in their Facebook feeds and in the evangelical spirit fed by Trump’s rallies. Of course, that ground game was actually quietly supported by an improved RNC vote-pulling effort. And the Koch network’s shadow party efforts to re-elect Republican Senators in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may have swayed the presidential election, too. (Someone should really look into this!)

    But for Trump voters, his rallies were a form of democracy that could grab your heart and make you feel that you were part of something important. And while the Clinton campaign countered with their own rallies boosted by extraordinary star power, they lacked the bandwagon effect achieved by Trump, as her campaign focused on the high-tech tools and TV ads that helped elect our current president twice.

    In their podcast Keepin’ It 1600 last week, former Obama chief speechwriter Jon Favreau and senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer argued that the next generation of Democratic leaders need to persuade and reach voters in a much more direct — almost Trumpian — style.

    Talking like a cab driver actually takes a lot of practice.

    Democrats need their own counter-programming to Trump’s rallies, which he has promised to keep doing in order to avoid reading briefing books and being near Mike Pence throughout his presidency.

    Building up a circuit of progressive speakers who hone and craft their message directly to voters would force Democrats to match their message to the mood and needs of the people who will become the next generation of activists. It could bring the Democratic message back to places like Macomb that Democrats need to win in 2020. And most importantly it will serve as a visible reminder that the left will not let Trump destroy American norms and values as president without putting up a helluva fight.

    Call it the 50-state Moral Mondays movement that many, including The Nation‘s Ari Berman, have been calling for. Call it an American Majority movement that won’t let Trump forget that he’s the biggest “loser” ever elected president. Just do it.

    Click here for reuse options!
    Copyright 2016 The National Memo

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    Fort Lee company accused of foreclosure rescue fraud

    Homeowners in crisis turned to MVP Home Solutions LLC of Fort Lee, paying $995 to $1,625 a month for programs with names like “Stay in Your Home,” in hopes of fighting off foreclosure, according to state authorities.

    But the promises of rescue were a scam, authorities said Friday.

    N.J. Attorney General Christopher Porrino filed a civil action accusing MVP executives Marcus A. Mullings Jr. and Talia Stephen-Mullings, both of Fort Lee, and Jessie Sanders, of West Orange, of violating state consumer fraud laws, as well as laws governing debt counseling and financial advertising.

    “We alleged these defendants shamelessly exploited homeowners who were drowning in mortgage debt and desperate to hang onto their homes, charging them up to $1,625 a month in exchange for foreclosure rescue services that were never provided,” Porrino said. Porrino said the defendants made a bad situation worse by “causing people to fall further behind on their mortgages, as they paid for undelivered services with money that could have been applied to their mortgages.”

    The complaint, filed in Superior Court in Bergen County, cited Mullings, Stephen-Mullings and Sanders, and their companies, MVP Solutions LLC, Stay In or Walk Away LLC, SIHOWA LLC, and Sanders Associates, LLC.

    MVP Home Solutions has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau.

    According to the New Jersey complaint, the defendants were not licensed by the Department of Banking and Insurance, as required by law, to act as debt adjusters or foreclosure consultants. Under New Jersey law, only not-for-profit organizations can be licensed to perform debt adjustment services, such as negotiating with a bank about a homeowner’s mortgage, and only certain licensed professionals are permitted to provide foreclosure consultant services.

    According to the attorney general, the defendants operated three programs, including a “Stay in Your Home” plan that promised the negotiation of a new, lower-cost mortgage. A program called “Walk Away Free Clear” promised help in negotiating a short sale, in which the lender accepts less than is owed on the mortgage to allow a distressed homeowner to get out of the property. And the company also offered a “Stop the Sale Date” that promised to halt foreclosure auctions.

    However, authorities said, the defendants actually did little to help their distressed clients. Instead, they’re accused of actions such as obtaining ownership of clients’ homes for less than the actual value, or filing bankruptcy on clients’ behalf without the clients’ knowledge.

    The complaint seeks consumer restitution, civil penalties and the appointment of a receiver to assume control over their assets and restore money or property to affected consumers. The state also seeks permanently ban Mullings, Stephen-Mullings and Sanders from managing or owning any business organization in the state; and to permanently bar them from advertising, selling, or performing debt adjustment, foreclosure counseling, or other foreclosure-related services.

    Neither MVP nor its executives could be reached Friday.

    Article source:

    Trump’s Potential Treasury Secretary Headed A ‘Foreclosure Machine’

    After campaigning with lots of populist and anti-Wall Street rhetoric, Donald Trump is seriously considering a veteran Wall Street financier, Steve Mnuchin, to be his Treasury secretary.

    Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, ultimately as a partner at the investment bank. More recently, he’s headed a privately owned hedge fund, Dune Capital Management. Last April he became Trump’s chief fundraiser, and he’s now a member of the president-elect’s transition team.

    But Mnuchin’s resume also includes a stint as chairman and CEO of a California bank that’s been called a foreclosure machine.

    During the depths of the financial crisis, Mnuchin was looking to make profits from the ruins of the housing bust. In 2009, he put together a group of billionaire investors and bought a failed California-based bank, IndyMac. It had been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after its sketchy mortgage loans went bad.

    Mnuchin and his partners bought IndyMac on the condition that the FDIC agree to pay future losses above a certain threshold. They renamed the bank OneWest Bank and, after running it for six years, they sold it last year for a profit, estimated at close to $1.5 billion.

    Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a housing advocacy group, says that profit was made on the backs of suffering California homeowners. “In essence what they did is they bought a foreclosure machine,” he says.

    According to the coalition, OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners under Mnuchin. During that time, the FDIC made payments to OneWest totaling more $1 billion. Those payments went to the “billionaire investors of OneWest Bank,” says Stein, “to cover the cost of foreclosing on working-class, everyday, American folks,” many of whom lived in California.

    Rex Schaffer, 86, and his wife Rose were among those who lost their homes, in a OneWest foreclosure. After living nearly 50 years in their home in La Puente, Calif., the Schaffers took a home equity loan but struggled to make the payments. They say they qualified three times for a government assisted modification, but OneWest failed to modify the loan.

    “It was a disaster dealing with those people,” Rex Shaffer says. “We’d have a different person every time we called in.” He counted 33 OneWest employees, in all, and each one would give him “a different story.”

    Facing threats that their home would be auctioned off, the Schaffers finally got through to a OneWest vice president. According to Rex Shaffer, the VP said, “I’m going to get you a 60-day extension on the sale date, so we can work this thing out.” That was on Feb. 17, 2011. But the next day, the Schaffers’ house was sold without their knowledge. “We didn’t even know it — didn’t have the faintest idea,” Rex Shaffer says.

    They voted for Donald Trump, but Rose Schaffer says they’re praying he doesn’t choose Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary. “If he can’t run his own little bank,” she asks, “how can he handle a large thing for the United States?”

    Millions of Americans were foreclosed on after the financial crisis; some were duped by real estate agents and bankers, others took imprudent risks.

    It is important to note that Mnuchin and his partners bought a bank from the government that was already in trouble because of bad loans. But Stein, of the California Reinvestment Coalition, argues that Trump’s message was that his presidency would rescue working families and the forgotten middle class. Stein says Mnuchin’s actions run counter to the message.

    “Mr. Mnuchin oversaw a bank that created difficulties and financial ruin for tens of thousands of families,” Stein says. Stein and his organization have also charged that, under Mnuchin, OneWest illegally avoided serving minority communities in California.

    Despite NPR’s repeated requests for comment, Mnuchin did not provide a response.

    Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

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    Buttonwoods Museum Festival of Trees hosts events this week – Eagle

    The Buttonwoods Museum’s 15th annual Festival of Trees continues this week with a variety of special events. 

    The festival, which is closed Monday and Tuesdays, runs through Dec. 11.

    A children’s scavenger hunt and holiday music is Thursday from 2:30 to 8 p.m. Festival hours on Thursday are from noon to 8 p.m.

    Senior Day is Friday and features $1 off admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Accordion music is from noon to 1 p.m., and holiday music is from 4 to 8 p.m. Festival hours on Friday are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    Children’s Crafts Day is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with refreshments included. Santa visits from 1 to 2 p.m. Holiday music is from 4 to 8 p.m. Festival hours on Saturday are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    Demonstrations by the Greater Haverhill Arts Association are Sunday. Joanne Turner is featured from noon to 2:30 p.m. and Roseanne Bartlett is featured from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Festival hours on Sunday are from noon to 5 p.m.

    The Buttonwoods Museum is at 240 Water St. Enter by John Ward Avenue. Visit online at

     Learn about advanced knee, hip surgery

    Anna Jaques Hospital will present a free seminar on the Mako Robotic Arm Interactive System that enables orthopedic surgeons there to perform advanced knee and hip procedures for patients suffering from joint pain. 

    The presentation is on Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Hartleb Technology Center on Northern Essex Community College’s Haverhill campus, 100 Elliott St. The talk will be presented by orthopedic surgeon Michael Wack of Seacoast Orthopedics.

    Anna Jaques is one of only two hospitals in a 50-mile radius to offer Mako Robotic Arm Assisted Surgery.

    Register for this program at or call 978-463-1475.

     Giving tree set up at Citizens Center

    The Council on Aging’s annual Giving Tree is now on display in the dining room at the Citizens Center, 10 Welcome St.

     Please stop by and pick up a tag for an item that will be donated to local disadvantaged seniors in Haverhill nursing homes. More information is available from Kathy or Rita at 978-374-2390.

     Planning Commission to hold monthly meeting

    The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the MVPC office, 160 Main St. 

    The agenda includes updates on economic development, and environmental and transportation programs in the region. The agenda is available on the MVPC website,

    For more information call Nancy Lavallee at 978-374-0519 or email

     First-time homebuyer course offered

    Community Action Inc. is offering its first-time home buyer education program for area residents beginning Dec. 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Presidential Gardens Community Room, 140 Evergreen Drive, Bradford.

    Participants will receive comprehensive information offered by housing professionals including bank lenders, buyer/seller real estate brokers, housing attorneys, insurance agents home inspectors and credit counselors, in addition to information about individual household mortgage prequalification, foreclosure sales, affordable housing lotteries and services of a buyer broker, down payment assistance programs and reduced interest loans.

    A Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative approved certificate is awarded after completion of the three-night course. The program is also approved by MassHousing. The dates for the course are Dec. 1, 7 and 8. The cost is $60 per household. There are no income requirements to take the training.

    For more information, contact Richard Lynch at 978-373-1971 or Susan Collins at 978-317-8998.

    Spotlight Playhouse to present holiday songs, humor

    Spotlight Playhouse will present Broadway on Essex – Holidaze in the Galleria Banquet room at Maria’s Restaurant, 81 Essex St.

    Performances are Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

    More than 30 performers will present Broadway and traditional and not so traditional holiday songs that will please the whole family, including such favorites as “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland.” Tickets are $35 for seniors and members. General admission is $38. Tickets include a full dinner, dessert buffet and coffee and tea. A cash bar will be available.

    Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 617-470-2175 or you can email

    Holiday craft fair planned

    Darlene Sutton’s Life Long Journey will host a craft cair titled “A Snowman’s Journey” on Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hartleb Technology Center on the Haverhill campus of Northern Essex Community College, 100 Elliott St. 

    Craft/art items include knitted baby afghans and knitted necklaces, children’s knitted and crocheted sweaters, sports teams hats, blankets and other sports clothing items, hand-painted Christmas decorations, hand-made jewelry with sea glass, hand-crafted wooden bowls, wooden birdhouses and more.

    Cost of tables is $20 for one or two for $30 and all crafters are welcome. To reserve a table, contact Darlene Sutton at 978-476-4677.

     Penguin Pub Crawl set for Friday

    The sixth annual Downtown Haverhill Penguin Pub Crawl to benefit Ozzie’s Kids will be held on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.

    This year, 13 downtown restaurants and bars are participating. Registration is $30 per person. To register, send email to

    Penguin Crawlers walk with friends and patronize the restaurants/bars with either beverages or food. An after party at 9 p.m. will include a DJ and heavy appetizers.

    Downtown establishments taking part are: Keon’s, The Lasting Room, the Chit Chat Lounge, The Tap, Barking Dog Ale House, Wang’s Table, Battle Grounds Cafe, Terri’s Place, Essex Street Grille, Peddler’s Daughter, Maria’s Restaurant, Butch’s Uptown and Smith’s Tavern.

    Article source:

    Several people are linked to purported Las Vegas sovereign citizen – Las Vegas Review

    Thomas Benson doesn’t work alone. Here are a few people linked to the purported sovereign citizen:

    Nana I Am

    When Benson teamed with Nana I Am this year to sue for a foreclosed Las Vegas house, they sought $15 million and claimed Nana was suing on behalf of the former owner.

    The case was dismissed – but it wasn’t the first time Nana went to court for a home that wasn’t his.

    A mysterious figure, Nana has filed dozens of lawsuits in recent years, often with people who lost their home to lenders. He has sought hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars and laced his filings with nonsensical claims and pseudo-legal jargon. He writes his name countless ways, including as Nana-Amartey-Baidoobonso-IAM, and is connected to at least five homes in Southern Nevada, according to a Las Vegas Sun report in July. Among them:

    He teamed with Miguel and Dinora Barraza this year to sue for a bank-owned house on Sierra Brook Court in the northwest valley. They sought more than $20 million and said they took possession of the house in 1900, 105 years before it was built.

    They had teamed up before: The Barrazas lost a house to foreclosure in 2014 but, weeks later, filed papers with Clark County saying they gave it to Nana as a gift in 2009.

    Las Vegas police raided the Sierra Brook house in May and arrested the Barrazas and others on squatting charges. Court records indicate the group was ordered to stay out of trouble for one year and to stay away from the home.

    Their lawyer, Marilyn Caston, says Nana took a lot of money from her clients and claimed they’d get homes for free. Her clients haven’t talked to him since their arrest, she says, and have “washed their hands of him completely.”

    Meanwhile, Benson and Nana have filed similar, strange court papers.

    In February, Benson filed in Kansas federal court footprints and thumbprints in blue ink and a copy of the Declaration of Independence that appears to show his name at the bottom, not far from John Hancock’s.

    In June, Nana also filed in Kansas federal court footprints and thumbprints in blue ink and a copy of the Declaration, with the name “nana amartey baidoobonso- i am” in the spot where Benson’s name appeared.

    Perla Hernandez

    Former owners of a Summerlin house said in 2014 that Benson had been “a co-resident” there with Perla Hernandez, who lost the property to foreclosure.

    They also said Hernandez showed a “pattern of abuse” of bankruptcy court: She filed for bankruptcy five times between 2010 and 2014, records show.

    In Benson’s Kansas filing, he included a copy of a supposed bond for 21 one-ounce silver bullion coins. In May, one Perla Hernandez of Las Vegas filed a nearly identical-looking and -worded document in Kansas federal court.

    Kinga Gorna

    Benson’s court papers often make little sense but sometimes have at least one thing in common: the notary.

    Kinga Gorna’s stamp is included in, among other things, Benson and Nana’s lawsuit; Benson’s lawsuit this year against Las Vegas police over a traffic stop; and the supposed silver-bullion bonds, which say Gorna declared to witness and physically count the coins.

    According to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office, Gorna’s current notary commission started in September 2015 and expires in September 2019.

    Gorna could not be reached for comment.

    David Lopez, head of real estate fraud prosecution at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said sovereigns often use a notary’s stamp and signature without permission: they’ll cut and paste from a legitimately stamped document and use them “over and over again.”

    But it’s not uncommon for notaries to be in cahoots with sovereigns, according to Lopez. And if notaries are “dirty,” his office would “absolutely” prosecute them, he said.

    Contact Review-Journal writer Eli Segall at (702) 383-0342. On Twitter at @eli_segall

    Article source:

    Oakwood residents fight to keep homes

    When Mary Kay Buford rented a newly built home in Toledo’s central city in 2002 she was signing up for a promise made by the developer — that she could buy that house in 15 years and she would earn $1,000 a year toward the price.

    It was a promise that was backed up by the power of federal, state, and local governments.

    “It was exciting,” she said.

    But last year she got a worrisome letter: Her house was being foreclosed for tax delinquency, and she was being stripped of her “rent-to-own” rights — which come due early next year.

    “I was shocked. Now it’s scary. We could end up homeless, with nothing,” Ms. Buford said, standing in front of her two-story Norwood Avenue house with a porch and picket fence.

    Ms. Buford and other women who rent homes in the Oakwood Homes I II project, including Samonia Smith and Lakesha Williams, aided by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, have sued to intervene in the tax foreclosure planned for 43 homes left standing and still occupied from the 80-home project.

    From left, Lakesha Williams, Dawn Autry, Samonia Smith, and Mary Buford are among plaintiffs suing to buy the homes they have rented for up to 15 years. The homes were rent-to-own but the project went bankrupt.



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    They’re hoping to be able to acquire their dwellings for little or nothing because of the promise that was made, the expenses they’ve undertaken, the conditions of the homes, and the failure of a state agency to monitor the project for problems.

    The original developer, the now-defunct nonprofit Toledo Community Development Corp., built the development with mortgage financing of about $9.3 million, according to the two suits filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, with federal tax credits to lower the risk.

    The project has fallen behind in paying its bills with the result that some of the houses have been demolished and others are in poor repair.

    The original local partner, Toledo Community Development Corp., also known as Central City Neighborhood Community Development Corp., was once supported by the city with as much as $86,825 annual subsidy of taxpayer money.

    The financial partner, National Equity Fund, an affiliate of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC, has been subsidizing the operating deficit — about $115,000 in 2015 — but has not been paying the property taxes. Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz has filed two tax foreclosure lawsuits because the homes are behind in property taxes by about $230,000.

    Ms. Buford, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Williams are seeking through their intervention in one of the cases to force the project to live up to the promise that was made — that they could get credit to buy their homes after the 15th year.

    Whether their legal intervention will be accepted is up to Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

    Lawyer contentions

    Lawyers for Mr. Kapszukiewicz say the tenants don’t have any standing to block the foreclosure suit. In the first case, which is virtually identical, and which also has tenants suing to stop the sale, Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros denied a motion to intervene.

    George Thomas, a lawyer representing the tenants, said the tenants’ rights are spelled out in a covenant. Even though one section of the covenant says the tenants’ rights terminate when foreclosure is filed, Mr. Thomas noted that the covenant also says the tenancy continues after foreclosure. He contends their right of first refusal to buy the homes is included in their tenancy rights.



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    Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he sympathizes with the tenants and said the foreclosure suit is part of a plan aimed at getting the houses out of financial limbo and into the hands of a responsible community development corporation that can manage the rental properties and sell them.

    The plan was devised by the city of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods; the Lucas County Land Bank, which Mr. Kapszukiewicz chairs, and NeighborWorks, a local nonprofit community development corporation. Toledo City Council voted unanimously June 7 to approve the foreclosure plan, and the measure was signed by Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

    The plan is to have the treasurer foreclose on the homes, turn them over to the Lucas County Land Bank to wipe the deeds clean of liens, such as mortgages — including $225,000 from the city of Toledo — and then transfer them, at a price of $300 each, to NeighborWorks, also known as Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. of Toledo.

    NeighborWorks would then rent them and try to sell them for about $20,000 each, according to NeighborWorks Executive Director Bill Farnsel.

    “Our hope in this endeavor is that there are neighborhood residents that want to buy and are qualified that we can transfer ownership to, and in a two to three-year period we end up with just a handful of homes that residents don’t want to buy,” Mr. Farnsel said.

    Ms. Buford said the improvements she’s made include new carpeting downstairs, paint, and a repaired kitchen sink. She said the dishwasher is broken and there’s a sewer smell from the basement drain.

    “A lot of residents are scared to speak up for themselves. It’s only a few of us speaking up for what we believe in and that’s buying our houses and owning our houses,” Ms. Buford said. “Our question was, if you’re going to give them to [NeighborWorks] why don’t you give them to us?”

    Conspiracy claim

    Ms. Buford, Ms. Smith, and Ms. Williams are named in the complaint filed by ABLE, a federally funded legal aid agency that provides free representation in civil cases to low-income people. Complaints against the Oakwood Homes I and II foreclosure have also been filed by residents Dawn Autry, Monica Ham, Latoya Pearson, Latoya Broughton, Terri Pope, Darcell Jordan, Ronnita Holyfield, Polly Petoskey, and Charles and Tay Lee.

    Ms. Autry’s pro se complaint accused local officials of conspiring to deprive them of their ownership rights.

    “It reeks of conspiracy and fraud,” said the complaint brought by Ms. Autry.

    Mr. Farnsel said that the $20,000 cost to resell the homes was necessary revenue to keep up the homes while they are sold, which will take several years.

    Mr. Kapszukiewicz said NeighborWorks is “in the best position to deliver on the promise that was made.” As a community development corporation, NeighborWorks can lend mortgage funds to people who can’t get conventional loans.

    Mr. Farnsel said he didn’t know enough about the failure of Oakwood Homes I and II to explain why it happened.

    “In general, single family rental homes are kind of a hard thing to manage. If you don’t stay on top of rent collections, stay on top of evictions, repairs and replacements, it’s easy for a project like that to get out of control,” Mr. Farnsel said. “If you’re not diligent things can get out of control quickly.”

    Failed projects

    Oakwood Homes I and II is one of several tax credit projects that failed.

    A Blade investigation in 2012 found that of Toledo’s 800 low-income tax credit homes, more than 100 were boarded up, gutted, or demolished. The investigation found that the Ohio Housing Finance Agency was not inspecting the units as required for the federal tax credits.

    The Oakwood suit accuses the Ohio Housing Finance Agency of failing to do its job of inspecting the rental units regularly. OHFA was supposed to notify the Internal Revenue Service if a unit fell out of compliance so that the IRS could “recapture” the tax credits that had been awarded.

    According to the suit, for the five years preceding February, 2013, “OHFA failed to [notify] the IRS to document compliance related to any Oakwood Homes rental unit.”

    The women say they deserve some credit for making their own repairs, and for any deterioration that has not been maintained by the developer.

    Recent prices of homes sold in the Norwood and Oakwood area range from as little as $1 to as much as $40,000.

    Ms. Smith said the house she’s been in since 2013 has a lot of problems, including a slow leak in her ceiling, and broken kitchen drawers.

    Ms. Smith said she survives on Social Security disability checks, and she shares the house with two children and four grandchildren.

    She went to the informational meetings that NeighborWorks organized, and found that some of the other tenants — who she said are nearly all women — were scared.

    “We are mostly women. We are trying to stay and build our community,” Ms. Smith said.

    Contact Tom Troy: or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

    Mary Kay Buford

    ,Lakesha Williams

    ,Samonia Smith

    ,Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

    ,Oakwood Homes

    ,lucas county common pleas court

    ,Toledo Community Development Corp.

    ,Wade Kapszukiewicz

    ,NeighborWorks Toledo Region

    ,toledo department of neighborhoods

    ,Tom Troy

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    Huntington Beach woman arrested for possible link to ‘foreclosure rescue’ scam

    A Huntington Beach woman was arrested Wednesday in connection with a scheme where money was taken to fraudulently halt home foreclosures.

    Police said that 55-year-old Brandy Taylor was arrested at her Huntington Beach home after a months-long investigation, according to a statement released Thursday morning.

    In January, Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s officials contacted Huntington Beach police investigators regarding a “Foreclosure Rescue” scam that had victims in Santa Barbara County, Alameda County and Orange County.

    “For a monthly fee, the company was suspected of offering to stop the foreclosure process through the use of fraudulent deeds of trust,” according to the statement.

    The company suspected in the deceptive activity was known as Carrington Investments/The Wellington Group operating out of Huntington Beach.

    The counties issued arrest warrants in Huntington Beach for Taylor on suspicion of filing forged or false documents, said Huntington Beach police Officer Jennifer Marlatt.

    On Wednesday, the Huntington Beach Police Department Crime Task Force Unit conducted surveillance at Taylor’s home. Once detectives confirmed she was in the home, they arrested her.

    She was booked into jail and was being held in lieu of $1.36 million bail.

    Contact the writer: 714-796-7865 or

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    Animated charmer ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is on Blu-ray, DVD

    One of many stunning images in the stop-motion animated charmer Kubo and the Two Strings, now on DVD and Blu-ray. (Deseret Photo)

    An animated feature that slipped in and out of theaters under the radar leads these movies that are new to Blu-ray and DVD this week.

    “Kubo and the Two Strings” (Universal, 2016, PG, introduction, audio commentary, featurettes). A one-eyed boy named Kubo (voiced by young Art Parkinson) lives with his sickly mother in ancient Japan, where he uses complex origami to illustrate seemingly tall tales that he relates to the locals. In fact, the stories he spins are about his own late father.

    One evening, when he disobeys his mother and stays out after dark, Kubo finds himself in danger, so his mom summons the strength to rescue him by using her magic, which sends Kubo off on a quest to find his father’s enchanted armor. As he sets out on this danger-filled adventure, Kubo is joined by a little wooden monkey that has come to life (Charlize Theron) and a samurai cursed with a beetle-like body (Matthew McConaughey).

    Beautifully rendered stop-motion animation and a unique inventiveness inform this fanciful fable by first-time director Travis Knight, a veteran producer with the Laika studio (“Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls”). Other voice actors include Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei and Brenda Vaccaro.

    “Chicken People” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable G). This funny but respectful and winning documentary examines the lives of people who raise show chickens. Yes, you read that right. Like dog shows, there are poultry shows, and breeders are very much their own lot, as are those who judge the birds. It’s a hoot. Or to be more apt, it’s a crow.

    “Hell or High Water” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, language, sex; featurettes). Divorced father Toby (Chris Pine) and his unstable, ex-con brother Tanner (Ben Foster) become desperate as their family’s Texas ranch nears foreclosure, so they begin robbing branches of the same bank that holds the title to their property. But as Tanner’s behavior becomes more erratic, and with a tenacious Texas ranger (Jeff Bridges) on their trail, things look bleak. This is a familiar crime melodrama lifted by solid performances.

    “The Childhood of a Leader” (IFC, 2016, not rated/probable R for violence). An allegory for the rise of fascism, this fable relates the childhood of a boy in 1918 France, where his American diplomat father is involved in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. The boy learns to manipulate his parents and begins a path that will lead him to becoming a fascist dictator. Robert Pattinson plays two supporting roles.

    “War Dogs” (Warner, 2016, R for language and drugs, featurettes). During the Iraq War, two twenty-something stoners (Jonah Hill, Miles Teller) stumble onto a little-known government initiative that allows them to bid on government contracts, which eventually leads to their rolling in dough. But when they take on a $300 million deal with the Afghan military, they are soon in way over their heads. This sleazy satire is based on a true story. Bradley Cooper and Kevin Pollak are among the co-stars.

    “The Land” (IFC, 2016; R for language, drugs, violence, nudity; featurette, trailer). A motley crew of teens ditch school to practice on their skateboards, hoping those skills will get them out of the dregs of Cleveland’s inner city culture. But they also steal cars, and eventually, unwisely, cross a drug dealer, which leads to more trouble than they bargained for.

    Chris Hicks is the author of “Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings.” He also writes at and can be contacted at

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