Judge Arthur Schack is in the news again (some older news again and on video). In HSBC v. Taher, Judge Schack took issue with HSBC’s foreclosure paperwork including finding that the affidavit submitted by HSBC’s lawyers that the papers were in order and not “robo-signed” was false.
Initially, Judge Schack found that HSBC had no standing to commence the foreclosure action because the assignment by which HSBC claimed standing was defective. Judge Schack stated:
Mr. Cassara’s affirmation, affirmed “under the penalties of perjury,” that to the best of Mr. Cassara’s “knowledge, information, and belief, the Summons and Complaint, and other papers filed or submitted to the Court in this matter contain no false statements of fact or law,” is patently false. Moreover, the Court is troubled that: the alleged representative of plaintiff HSBC, Christina Carter, who according to Mr. Cassara, “confirmed the factual accuracy and allegations set forth in the Complaint and any supporting affirmations filed with the Court, as well as the accuracy of the notarizations contained in the supporting documents filed therewith, is not an employee of HSBC, but a robosigner employed by OCWEN LOAN SERVICING, LLC [OCWEN], whose signature on legal documents has at least three variations; the MERS to plaintiff HSBC assignment of the subject mortgage and note was executed by Scott W. Anderson, a known robosigner and OCWEN employee, whose signature is reported to have appeared in at least four different variations on mortgage assignments; and, the instant affidavit of merit was executed by Margery Rotundo, another robosigner, OCWEN employee and self-alleged employee of various other banking entities.
Finding that HSBC has been a repeat offender of this issue, Judge Schack set down a hearing to determine why HSBC and its counsel should not be sanctioned.
But all of this was in just the introduction to the Judge’s decision; he was just warming up.
After navigating the background of the loan transaction and borrower’s default, Judge Schack described how the Court searched the recorded documents for the loan being foreclosed by HSBC, and other courts’ decisions, and determined that Scott W. Anderson, the individual signing for the loan processing company (that was to service the loan), Ocwen, had also signed on behalf of MERS, and had seemed to have some relationship with the lender, Delta Funding Corporation. Remarkably, Judge Schack’s decision goes through a handwriting analysis of Mr. Anderson’s signature, which appear only as his initials (“[t]he Court concludes that it must be a herculean task for Mr. Anderson to sign ‘Scott Anderson’ or ‘Scott W. Anderson’ in full”). After analyzing five samples, Judge Schack is not only unimpressed by the lack of consistency in the signatures, but is “perplexed that in response to my order for Mr. Anderson to submit an affidavit with respect to his employment, Mr. Anderson was unable to sign either ‘Scott Anderson’ or ‘Scott W. Anderson.’ Instead, there is a fifth variation of scrawled initials. There is a big loop for the cursive letter ‘S,’ which contains within it something that looks like the cursive letter ‘M’ going into lines that look like the cursive letter ‘V, with a wiggly line going to the right of the page.”
Judge Schack then reviewed the background of another signatory to documents related to this foreclosure, Margery Rotundo. Seemingly familiar with Ms. Rotundo from prior foreclosures, Judge Schack states that she has, “in prior foreclosure cases before me, a history of alleging to be the Senior Vice President of various entities, including plaintiff HSBC, Nomura Credit & Capital, Inc. and an unnamed servicing agent for HSBC. In the instant action she claims to be the Senior Vice President of Residential Loss Mitigation of OCWEN, HSBC’s servicing agent.” After dissecting these representations, Judge Schack turns to the purported positions of other officials which signed documents supporting the foreclosure, including further handwriting analysis. Needless to say, Judge Schack was not impressed with anyone involved.
Judge Schack then details his finding that HSBC’s failure to provide an assignment document means that it has no standing to foreclose, and dismisses the action. Not satisfied with just dismissing the case but allowing HSBC to refile with the proper documents, Judge Schack dismiss the action with prejudice, precluding HSBC from refiling.
We then arrive at the part of the decision which really caught the public’s attention, the setting of the sanctions hearing. If one thought Judge Schack was giving HSBC and its lawyers a hard time before, well, they were in for much more.