Florida foreclosure mill owner who chucked out 70,000 families in 2009 is unspeakably rich

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72 Responses to “Florida foreclosure mill owner who chucked out 70,000 families in 2009 is unspeakably rich”

  1. crwb says:

    “It is featured on a water-taxi tour of the area’s grandest estates, …” And herein lies one of the problems at the bottom of all of this – gawkers at the rich … I think it was Jon Stewart who reminded me of why we put up with all the shenanigans of the rich – we don’t really want to punish them, we gawk at them because we want to be them. Until we all realize that there really is a thing as too much money, this stuff will continue and leaches like Stern will thrive.

  2. Ray - Pure Spontaneity says:

    I have an idea. How about folks pay their mortgage that they signed up for and then they wouldn’t have to worry about foreclosure or people like this guy in the article.

    • cjp says:

      I think you’re missing the point – some of these folks were closed on illegally. That seems wrong to me, don’t know about you.

      @Anon #2 – I’m sorry to hear this has happened to you. Wishing you a brighter future.

    • dculberson says:

      Bullshit. Didn’t help this guy, who had no mortgage at all:

      http://boingboing.net/2010/09/23/bank-of-america-fore.html

      Some times things are more complicated than a narrow simple minded world view includes. There are people not making their mortgage payments, but there are also people that are being foreclosed upon illegally. Some of those groups intersect, but not all.

  3. Razzabeth says:

    Cory, you spelled Hiaasen wrong. That is all.

    (big Hiaasen fan here)

  4. Marshall says:

    Strap this fellow into the stocks in front of his house and make him watch his everything burn.

    And then leave him there for the wolves.

  5. Lucifer says:

    Amid all this talk about improper foreclosures, the key detail that one might forget is that foreclosures happen because the mortgage payments are not being made. If you’re paying your mortgage, your house is not getting foreclosed.

    • Brainspore says:

      If you’re paying your mortgage, your house is not getting foreclosed.

      Keep on believing that and maybe it will come true. Read the article and a few of the links above: with the current shoddy state of rules and regulations there are plenty of horror stories out there about people losing their homes without missing mortgage payments, or missing payments because the lenders made a mistake, or even getting foreclosed on when they didn’t have any mortgages at all. The system is a chaotic mess and many, many innocent people are getting hurt.

      • Anonymous says:

        Read the article and a few of the links above: with the current shoddy state of rules and regulations there are plenty of horror stories out there about people losing their homes without missing mortgage payments, or missing payments because the lenders made a mistake, or even getting foreclosed on when they didn’t have any mortgages at all. Really, NO. Considering the HUGE increase in foreclosures, the slapdash manner in which the banks have been completing paperwork, and the extreemly cursery manner the courts have reviewed them, there have been very few foreclosure actions agains borrowers who weren’t actually in default. There have been plenty against defaulting borrowers who were hoping and in some cases expecting a modification of their delinquent mortgage, but relatively few mistaken actions.

        And it’s NOT a lack of rules and regulations, we have plenty of them. But the lenders have engaged in a wholesale IGNORING of laws regarding the mortgages and deeds of trust, in an attempt to save a few hundred dollars filing paperwork at the county courthouse. Rather they expect the courts to believe that “We’re a mortgage servicer” + “They’re behind on their payments” always implies that “We therefore have a right to seize the house,” without PROVING that the property was properly offered as security, and THEY are the party authorized to seek remedy.

        “Lenders need to be punished for careless and shoddy paperwork” =/= “People who aren’t paying their mortgage should get their house for free.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Lucifer, father of lies, said:

      If you’re paying your mortgage, your house is not getting foreclosed.

      As has been amply documented, this claim is false.

    • Neon Tooth says:

      I’m sure the mob uses the same kind of rational when it breaks arms.

  6. dback5 says:

    “more terrifying than any hobgoblin the right can posit.”

    I know it’s tilting at windmills to try to inject logic and reason into a Cory-fueled BB debate, but if want to get to the root of the foreclosure problem, look no further than Barney Frank and Maxine Waters from before the bubble burst. Here’s a clip from 2004 (check out 4:52 – 5:38).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGT_cSi7Rs

    • Anonymous says:

      “if want to get to the root of the foreclosure problem, look no further than Barney Frank and Maxine Waters from before the bubble burst.” (SIC)

      Unfortunately, you do actually have to look farther than that. But I understand that research is hard and you’d maybe rather not do your own thinking.

      Frank and Waters weren’t able to prevent a reform bill in 2005 from passing the House (controlled by Republicans and passed with by a majority of them AND Democrats). The bill died in the Senate (controlled by Republicans) after it was sent back by a committee (controlled by Republicans). There were no filibusters, it just was never thought important enough again by the Republicans to be reviewed and brought to a vote. Guess they were more concerned about terrorists and stuff.

      Also, I’d like to see the WHOLE of the testimony rather than something sliced, diced, and julienned by someone with an obvious ginsu to grind.

  7. Charlotte Corday says:

    If people are being illegally foreclosed upon, that’s wrong. And it would be equally wrong if the foreclosing lawyer drove a Bugatti, or a Hyundai.

    If people are being legally foreclosed upon (with the proper paper trail, showing provenance of the mortgage note) that’s OK.
    And it would be equally OK if the foreclosing lawyer owned a fourteen foot skiff, or a 120 foot yacht.

    • mdh says:

      False equivalence Charlotte. Illegal foreclosure is indeed bad, but do you really refuse to identify one of those two cases as obscene?

      • Charlotte Corday says:

        You are missing my point. The recitation of how big Stern’s house is, how many exotic cars he owns, etc. is not relevant to the question of how many of the foreclosures he processed were done wrongly, and how many were not.

        Search the web for “rocket docket” to find out about the judges who are Stern’s enablers, letting phony foreclosures go ahead without documentation. Since they don’t own yachts or Bugattis, you won’t see Mother Jones whining about them.

        • Anonymous says:

          The recitation of how big Stern’s house is, how many exotic cars he owns, etc. is not relevant to the question of how many of the foreclosures he processed were done wrongly, and how many were not.

          It doesn’t change how wrong what Stern is doing a bit, for which I am happy to blame both him and the judges. But it does show off just how much we penalize people like him, and how much we let them profit from their abuses.

        • Neon Tooth says:

          -1 disingenuous.

  8. zyodei says:

    I am amazed by how ignorant people can be sometimes. People will go to great lengths to protect criminals, if they feel they are on their side.

    1. OK, so they paid much of it back. So the government simply loaned them $700B in order to buy assets at the bottom of the market. Weak banks, etc. Talk about fucking Christmas. It was an outrageous act, and all the scare stories if it didn’t happen were told by people who had zero reputation (the GS sec. tres. hank paulson, the main proponent, said in 2007 that the market was the best he had ever seen in his life).

    2. The threat of hyperinflation is certainly not passed. Look at all commodities, and gold and silver. Shooting through the roof. If you think you are smarter than tens of thousands of finance guys who spend all day analyzing the world economy and trying to forecast it, well, get out your wallet, I’d like to play some cards with you.

    3. My point is war, and everything associated with it, is far worse than what this guy did – and it’s a purely government concern.

    Of course, those three were only off the top of my head. I could type ou 25 things the government does vastly more harmful than this guy. Or 50. But, nobody is reading this thread, so I won’t.

    • Cowicide says:

      My point is war, and everything associated with it, is far worse than what this guy did

      Fuck, man… red herring, much?

  9. acb says:

    I imagine that if the Tea Party was to publish an updated edition of William Bennett’s Book of Virtues, Stern would be listed as a paragon of patriotism and “tough love”, just like Joe Arpaio.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Mind you a system where filling out a few forms, standing in line at the courthouse, and talking to a judge for uncontested foreclosurse can make you rich, is a broken one, notwitstanding whether the pleeding is justified or not. Stuff that easy simply SHOULDN’T pay that well.

  11. EH says:

    What a coincidence that Angelo Mozilo bought his freedom this week, just as Stern relinquished his position at the top of his company. I can’t imagine that a criminal investigation hasn’t touched him yet.

  12. JohnC says:

    Where’s the “Dexter” for financial criminals like this guy?

  13. Anonymous says:

    can’t believe no one’s said this yet:

    Christ, what an asshole!

  14. AirPillo says:

    “Misunderstood” hahaha, well either he’s rubbing people’s faces in it or he’s got a guilty conscience.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It’s a shame whats going on down in Florida.
    I lost my condo to foreclosure, after the huricanes we got some water damage. the condo association took a settlement from insurance on everyones behalf, we got a $600 check (same as 3 months of assoc. dues)
    Our place was soon taken over by mold. Estimated at 10+ grand for mold remediation. We had to move and give up on the place. No one would buy it in the awful market there.
    I am the third foreclosure/bankruptcy in my family in the last year (all in fl).

    The way she goes I guess…

  16. kateling says:

    His yacht is called Misunderstood? Seriously?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Bugatti is a French company. Had to be said :)

    • soubriquet says:

      Bugatti is part of Volkswagen AG.

    • gornzilla says:

      Bugatti was started in Germany, in a section that later became France, by an Italian. It’s been part of VW since the late 1990s.

      Maybe the Tea Party was started to keep people mad about things that don’t matter. You get kooks with guns going for non-profits instead of going after bankers.

  18. Clifton says:

    10 years for perjury would seem about right.

  19. mgfarrelly says:

    At what point do “the people” realize that animals like this are the real threat to democracy, not the ham-fisted philandering of a few politicos?

    Dumping thousands of people into poverty based on a rigged game of a mortgage system is more on par with the hysterical tyranny of George III than any attempts to, oh, I dunno, reform health care or prevent a great depression.

    The tea-bagging types and the anarcho-capitalist loonies can scream about the big evil government til they are hoarse. Someone whose whole business is devoted to destroying people’s homes and lives based on a missed payment, whose business model is gutting communities and putting families into the poor house, someone whose profits would shame Midas and make Narcissus blush is more terrifying than the any hobgoblin the right can posit.

    I hope this viper chokes on his gold. But then, he can afford the best doctors to save him.

    • zyodei says:

      Because, my friend, the very worst of the vipers of the world act in complicity

      If you look into anarcho-capitalist thought much, they make clear that the greatest evil is not necessarily politicians or government, but rather the collusion of government and for profit actors.

      Whatever you can say about this guy, he is hardly a capitalist operating in the free market. Rather, he is exploiting flaws in the government court system.

      “more terrifying than any hobgoblin the right can posit.”

      Here’s three:

      $700 Billion in TARP, basically stolen from the people by the government connected banks in one day,

      the risk of hyperinflation, which, if it happened, would basically do to everybody in the country what this guy did to 70,000 people,

      and,

      War.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. 700 Billion from TARP is mostly paid back already, there is around 50Billion that is still “on the fence”, hell of a lot better to keep people working than investing it into the military industrial complex where money goes in, and never comes out with multi million dollar military equipment being taken out of service that were never used.

        2. Hyperinflation never happened, it was a possibility, but it never happened. The dollar did weaken, but it was anything but hyper.

        3. We are already in two wars, I highly doubt the mortgage crisis will directly cause a war, but the economic impact dose make like harder in political circles with other countries.

        I was a skeptic of it, but after seeing how it has played out so far it looks like a freaking Rainbow covered pot of gold compared to what the majority of the fear media portrayed it as.

      • jacobian says:

        “Because, my friend, the very worst of the vipers of the world act in complicity

        If you look into anarcho-capitalist thought much, they make clear that the greatest evil is not necessarily politicians or government, but rather the collusion of government and for profit actors.”

        This is true, but it’s absurd in that without a universal system of adjudication which is not based on payment, you can’t have any fair court system to avoid collusion. Indeed in the current system it doesn’t work because of the golden rule “he who has the gold makes the rules”. If you want a fair and functioning democracy – you can’t have massive wealth inequality. Simple as.

        As for the threat of hyper-inflation, it’s a completely idiotic fear not based in reality. The US is currently planning on qunatitative easing for fear of *deflation*. The reason that low interest rates don’t increase the money supply in depressed periods is because the money supply is not a fixed quantity [quantitative theory of money is believed only by lunatics at this point] but has to do with the opportunities of profit making. When there are lots of profit making opportunities than the money supply is increased because people lend more – and those that get loans lend more etc. The idea that money consists of a fixed number of tokens is both anti-empirical and inconsistent theoretically with how banking actually functions.

        • Anonymous says:

          Indeed, that TARP. The article touches on the issues that make the title claim ludicrous.

          We didn’t just put huge lump sums into the banks so they could pay huge bonuses and avoid the consequences of making bad loans. We also allowed (and continue to allow) the banks to borrow money from the government at zero percent indefinitely.

          Currently, the banks are borrowing money at zero percent and using it to pay the TARP back. Do you see any problem there? Hmmmm… it gets worse, that’s just the tip of the shenanigans iceberg. Take a look at how securities purchased under TARP are being written down, too.

          In the end, we will have transferred around 1.5 trillion dollars from the taxpayer to the banking system, in order to prevent market capitalism from functioning. It’s too late to change that now.

          If the banks had been allowed to fail (excluding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, of course, since that’s why they were created) then the mortgages would have been bought up at pennies on the dollar, and the new mortgage holders (I’d be one of them, you betcha) would renegotiate the failing mortgages to something that the debtors could pay. Thus, instead of hundreds of thousands of working class folks losing their homes, tens of thousands of investor class folks would see some of their investments fail, and all the boardroom class folks would take a beating that might force them to sell a few dozen of their summer homes in Vail, or (gasp!) send them down into the working class with the unwashed taxpayers.

          Of course, the free-market strategy might force an incompetent member of the ruling class to learn to flip burgers, and that is HERESY. Only unamerican freaks like Denis Kucinich and Ron Paul could support such blasphemous ideas.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Oh thank goodness for this scapegoat, now we dont have to indict the whole system! Where do I invest!!!

    • Cowicide says:

      Oh thank goodness for this scapegoat

      A scapegoat is someone who has been singled out for unmerited negative treatment or blame.

      Now please explain to all of us how this guy is a scapegoat?

      Maybe you should invest in a dictionary and/or ethics book instead?

      • Anonymous says:

        “Now please explain to all of us how this guy is a scapegoat?

        Maybe you should invest in a dictionary and/or ethics book instead?”

        He’s a scapegoat in that he’s not a cause of the fundamental problem, he’s just a sleazebag taking advantage of the problem for his own gain. People fixating on big cartoonish villains like this often miss the bigger picture.

        Example: If an 18-wheeler sideswipes me and forces me off a cliff, and while I’m trapped in the burning wreckage a guy comes up and steals my wallet, is the wallet-thief the person I should be maddest at?

        Does he deserve prison time if he was complicit in illegal foreclosures? Absolutely. He’s just small potatoes compared to the real villains on wall street who facilitated the foreclosure mess in the first place.

        • Cowicide says:

          Nonetheless, I don’t think this man is being made a scapegoat by anyone. If anything, this asshole is actually drawing attention to the “bigger problem” that begets his behavior. It’s probably this scumbag’s unwitting, one and only saving grace, actually.

        • turn_self_off says:

          Kinda funny how in the financial world, even a small potato comes with a 3 times 3 zeroes price tag attached.

  21. SporkWielder says:

    “From art and nature, if you will recall
    The opening of Genesis, man is meant
    To earn his way and further humankind.

    “But still the usurer takes another way:
    He scorns nature and her follower, art,
    Because he puts his hope in something else.”

    Dante, Canto XI

    Dante’s opinion of usury was, imho, tied into the beginnings of the Renaissance. When Italians and the rest of Europe began crawl out from under the irrational thrall of compound interest, the material basis for the Renaissance began to form.

    I hope for the time when our own bloodtie with usury is broken.

  22. andyhavens says:

    Kinda makes you want to believe in an afterlife where guys like this are held accountable for their actions…

    Frankly, in my belief system, he’s being held accountable *now.* Our time in Heaven/Hell begins on earth and is related to how we treat people. Guy may have a huge house, big yacht, etc., but I’m betting he’s a lot less happy/loved than many Happy Mutants.

    Doesn’t mean he’s not a total villain, nor that the system doesn’t need a major overhaul. Just saying that he’s reaping what he’s sowing.

  23. Cowicide says:

    Thank gawd the tea baggers will be out in the streets in furious anger over this and it’ll get wall-to-wall coverage by all the corporatist media especially FOX News!!!

    Oh… wait… sorry, I’m high on crack. Nevermind.

  24. rebdav says:

    So from the quick web searching I have done this guy is Jewish. Wish he was not because he makes us as a minority group look really bad.
    I was always raised that on top of any moral or biblical laws Jews in the post Roman holocaust and dispersal had to constantly be better and more moral than their neighbors because we are never truly considered one of the group even if we are all over TV and movies. I think the US is perhaps one of the longest stays we have ever been permitted aside from Babylon.
    This guy will be noticed as a Jew just like Madoff and the majority WASP Americans now living in the land that their grandfathers snatched from the Native Americans will be that much closer to blaming !!TEH JOOOOZ!! for their latest economic depression and homelessness.
    It may not be fair but minorities have to play to a far higher standard else the masses get out their pitchforks and try to seize what they “deserve”.

    • johnphantom says:

      I’m not sure if you are Jewish, because of the way you pulled every significant card in the deck without prompting.

      I think you are purposely trying to make Jews look bad.

      You really needed to look up the name “Stern” to see that he is Jewish?

      /WASP who is part Mohawk

    • Avram / Moderator says:

      Rebdav, are you familiar with the phrase “borrowing trouble”?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Usury (as well as interest) has an interesting history with lots of religious and racial overtones.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usury

  26. Ha'penny says:

    Scum?

  27. JaxSean says:

    Hang a foreclosure from this lamppost.

  28. zyodei says:

    I am always suspicious of attempts to single out individual rotten people to cover for systematic failures.

    Not that this guy doesn’t sound like scum of the Earth…

  29. n8zilla says:

    and jerks like that are why we used to have a 90% top marginal tax rate… well, and jails.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Remember, the banks don’t want to own your house.

    They want you to pay them. They lose money on real estate, they don’t want to foreclose unless there’s absolutely no way you could ever pay them off, ever.

    So, this guy is not only breaking to law to throw people out of their homes (which he’d almost certainly get away with, since the USA is currently going through one of our robber baron phases) he’s also cheating the banks.

    You needn’t worry about him eventually getting nailed by the law. The banking system is at times slow, but it is inexorable. If he runs somewhere the law doesn’t reach, they’ll just have him killed.

    • Shagford says:

      Remember, the banks don’t want to own your house.
      They want you to pay them. They lose money on real estate, they don’t want to foreclose unless there’s absolutely no way you could ever pay them off, ever.

      I disagree with this statement at 41. The bank (assuming it wants to maximize its’ income) wants you to pay as much as you can, then default and get foreclosed on. That way they resell the house and keep all the money you paid into the mortgage before foreclosing.

      Market price for the house plus all of your payments, less the original loan, can be a tidy sum…

      PS Long-time reader, first-time poster. Am a bit under the weather and decided to create an account today. Thanks!

      • Anonymous says:

        I disagree with this statement at 41. The bank (assuming it wants to maximize its’ income) wants you to pay as much as you can, then default and get foreclosed on.

        um… NO. In a foreclosure auction, any money received that is greater than the debt owed (including fees and penalties) MUST be returned to the owner of the house. Now this rarely happens partly because the fees and penalties for being late enough to be foreclose can be hefty, but mainly because people who aren’t upside down usually sell the house themselves rather than try an rely on the auction to get top dollar.

      • turn_self_off says:

        Iirc, various banks have looked the other way when people have consciously opted to spend their cash on something other then their mortgage. This because the market is already saturated to the point where the banks will never be able to recoup the initial sum loaned out, and the paperwork to foreclose would just add to the expense.

  31. mmechanic says:

    Hey Cory,

    I edited the Mother Jones piece that broke the David J. Stern story online in early August, capturing an inside view of his operation and bringing to light the sketchy shenanigans that have led to the recent foreclosure crisis. MoJo is also the direct source of the passage above regarding Stern’s ostentatious wealth. So we’d be much obliged if you would link to/acknowledge Andy Kroll’s months of hard work in bringing this to the nation’s attention. Thanks!

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/07/david-stern-djsp-foreclosure-fannie-freddie

  32. Teller says:

    Saud Bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir al Saud gets only 20 years for the brutal murder of his manservant. Oil wealth breeds that kind of depravity. And who continues to use the oil that funds this kind of perverted crime against a hired slave? The effing Tea Party. These people have blood on their hands.

    • AlexG55 says:

      No, he got a life sentence. He just won’t be considered for parole until after 20 years are up. And I don’t see what Britain not having the death penalty (which you seem to think he should get) has to do with oil wealth…

  33. TEKNA2007 says:

    $700 Billion in TARP, basically stolen from the people by the government connected banks in one day

    My understanding is that the vast majority of that $700B has now been recovered by the government. The last I heard, there’s still an amount less that $100B uncollected. I’m thinking $40B-$80B. If that’s at all controversial, I’d be willing to track down a source.

    To avoid nationwide economic collapse — things are bad, but they could be much worse — this seems like a good investment to me.

  34. bkad says:

    If people are being illegally foreclosed upon, that’s wrong. And it would be equally wrong if the foreclosing lawyer drove a Bugatti, or a Hyundai.

    If people are being legally foreclosed upon (with the proper paper trail, showing provenance of the mortgage note) that’s OK.
    And it would be equally OK if the foreclosing lawyer owned a fourteen foot skiff, or a 120 foot yacht.

    This is somewhat moot, but I thought I’d say I agree with you, since we hold a minority view. I’ve made similar points about evil bankers, who seem to be hated in proportion to their success, not in proportion to their crimes. Say a banker, through deception, takes $1000. Through investment, he turns that to $1100. Another banker, through deception, steals the same amount from you, $1000. Only he, through some implausibly brilliant scheme, ends up turning it into $10000. Is he more or less criminal? More or less moral? Of course, it is completely irrelevant.

    As it is here. Unfair, predatory, and allegedly illegal business practices are the immorality here. That’s what it is worth being indignant about. How lavishly he happened to live is immaterial, and only services to arouse emotions rather than rationality.

  35. Anonymous says:

    So….Would the banks have a reason to sue him? ‘Cause it looks like he was charging for legal work and actually only providing clerical work. Will the Florida Bar investigate?

  36. Anonymous says:

    Oh, the irony of the times we live in.

    Sharia LENDING laws need to be discussed in Congress. But who would ever dare to bring them up? Grayson? Maybe.

  37. Greg323 says:

    One word: Decapitation.

    But leave him alive long enough to auction off all of his assets in front of him first.

    • hassenpfeffer says:

      No, decapitation is too good for him. Drawing and quartering the old-fashioned way: Leave him alive while his abdomen is sliced open and his intestines pulled out and set on fire.

      The Norse “blood eagle” would also be appropriate. Fly with THOSE wings, asshole.

      • wylkyn says:

        Actually, I think Hanover Fiste said it best: “He’s nothing but a low-down, double-dealing, backstabbing, larcenous, perverted worm! Hanging’s too good for him. Burning’s too good for him! He should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive!”

        STERN!!!!

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