Tuesday, November 01, 2011


What the Costumes Reveal

These pictures are hardly the first piece of evidence that the Baum firm treats homeowners shabbily — or that it uses dubious legal practices to do so. It is under investigation by the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. It recently agreed to pay $2 million to resolve an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the firm had “filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York.” (In the press release announcing the settlement, Baum acknowledged only that “it occasionally made inadvertent errors.”)

Photos from a former employee of the law firm of Steven J. Baum: Two Steven J. Baum employees mocking homeowners who have been foreclosed on.

MFY Legal Services, which defends homeowners, and Harwood Feffer, a large class-action firm, have filed a class-action suit claiming that Steven J. Baum has consistently failed to file certain papers that are necessary to allow for a state-mandated settlement conference that can lead to a modification. Judge Arthur Schack of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn once described Baum’s foreclosure filings as “operating in a parallel mortgage universe, unrelated to the real universe.” (My source told me that one Baum employee dressed up as Judge Schack at a previous Halloween party.)

This photo is a depiction of Susan Chana Lask, who posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm.

I saw the firm operate up close when I wrote several columns about Lilla Roberts, a 73-year-old homeowner who had spent three years in foreclosure hell. Although she had a steady income and was a good candidate for a modification, the Baum firm treated her mercilessly.

A corner of the Baum office was decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes.

When I called a press spokesman for Steven J. Baum to ask about the photographs, he sent me a statement a few hours later. “It has been suggested that some employees dress in ... attire that mocks or attempts to belittle the plight of those who have lost their homes,” the statement read. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” It described this column as “another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work.”

A corner of the Baum office was decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes.

REST AT LINK:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/opinion/what-the-costumes-reveal.html?_r=1

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