Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mortgage-servicing Squaliforme takes yet another swing

The seemingly-endless legal saga of Robert John Wright passed another milestone on Tuesday, December 12th, more than 10 years since Bank of America and EMC Mortgage began their relentless and apparently illegal pursuit of his home.

Looking at what’s available in the court records, one can discern that Wright has not only done a lot of his own work over the years (including an appeal to the Supreme Court) but he’s also had a number of attorneys from time to time over the years, including Washington DC’s “Pro bono lawyer of the year,” Rawle Andrews. As it turns out, looking at the case histories in the Dallas courthouse, he’s even been represented by one of the area’s most prestigious firms – for a while, that is.

That’s what probably tripped him up in the long run. The more EMC spent the more they couldn’t afford to lose. They have to spend everything it takes, and obviously will; a precedent ruling against EMC in these cases could attract the plaintiff’s bar in very large numbers.

In one facet of the on-going brush war, Michael Swartzendruber of Fulbright and Jaworski’s Dallas office testified EMC brought F&J in because of who was representing Wright at that time, one Bobby Rubbarts of Hughes and Luce. Good lawyerin’ costs big bucks in that part of Texas.

But Wright, of course, was penniless (he more recently has filed an indigency motion to obtain a transcript of his trial, so that status apparently hasn’t changed), and Rubbarts must have thought there was plenty of fire under all the smoke being generated by EMC’s counsel of record at that time.

Rubbarts took on the Wright case pro bono in 2003, EMC added F&J to their team and the trial actually got going in early December of 2004. After the Judge appeared to run out of patience and time during the trial, she ordered them back into a third settlement conference which took place just before Christmas of '04.

They apparently reached an accord but Wright was disputing that in later filings. According to the property tax rolls, EMC obtained the property in January of 2005. According to the forum, Wright has apparently been in the house since then and is now out.

What went wrong with the settlement is the subject of yet another round of motions and hearings that surfaced in late 2005 and have crawled along ever since, with one of the appeals ending in a rather bizarre scenario if one reads the appeals court ruling – he apparently didn’t pay the fee at the time he filed the appeal. The court record of the dismissal says he was notified twice but given the stakes involved it’s hard to imagine he’d have come this far and then simply let it drop by not paying the fee. But stranger things have happened in this case.

Wright also filed a bankruptcy petition (pro se), late in October, apparently in part to stave off the earlier massive legal-expense ruling he lost. EMC won a round that is still destined for appeal and went after Wright for F&J’s legal expenses. We’re talking well into six-figures in legal expenses for just F&J’s team which is led by Swartzendruber.

EMC, through F&J of course, filed and obtained a lift of the automatic stay after a hearing. Turns out, though, Wright isn’t the owner any more and hasn’t been since January of 2005. To make a long story shorter, EMC apparently obtained a Writ of Possession a few weeks ago.

Now, to say EMC was stupid in this case is an understatement. All told, in ten years, this squaliforme has probably poured out nearly a half-million dollars in legal expenses alone, knowing full well it will never recoup them. At a time where lenders are allegedly worried about the growth in foreclosures, they were willing to spend anything to get this house (which is on the tax rolls for $240,340). Even the $6M loss to the Starks hasn't persuaded them to change the way they play the equity-theft game.

From this distance, it seems All EMC would have had to have done is fix some rather simple accounting screw-ups that Bank of America made when EMC bought the loan. But that isn’t what EMC is in the business to do. In most cases, they get the property and equity much faster. As with most cases that actually involve a lawsuit, they decided to try and spend Wright into oblivion, and when they ran up against attorneys willing to put up a fight, they had to keep spending and spending. Which means there is plenty to hide. Stealing people’s homes can be expensive business and is best done out of the light of day.

Something tells me it ain’t over.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The action actor plays the fool

The recent media coverage of the "plight" of action-star Wesley Snipes has shed a little mainstream-news light on the schemers who lure people into the legal mythology sometimes referred to as the "patriot" or "sovereign" movement.

In this through-the-looking glass legal lalla-land, old conspiracies seem to gain new life every few years. They get ressurected and thrive on gullible people who really want to believe in them, and the operators of schemes have learned how to put the right spin on some very old and very tired (but completely legally debunked) mythology, including not having to pay income taxes.

There are too many of these crazies to list here (but at the left you can find most of them at the Quatloos site), and in the grand scheme of things, they really don't have a statistically-significant army of followers who will do anything other than read and comment as opposed to act on the recommendations. Some of the promoters are in prison or about to be or are under investigation. Others exhibit simple confused ramblings or completely incoherent and bizarre theories. They argue (colorfully sometimes) among themselves about who has the most successes. A few try to make a living off convincing people they can get out of everything from traffic tickets to income taxes.

Somehow, Snipes found himself listening to an acolyte/promoter of one of the anti-IRS "don't have to pay tax" schemes, one Eddie Kahn. Another long-term promoter of legal nonsense, Barton Buhtz, is being roped in with Eddie and their "defense" is studded with the typical legal absurdities so common to these myths.

In order to understand how far out of reality these promoters operate, one has to step into the realm of believing a long string of utterly absurd conspiracy theories that tie non-existent events together into a tangle of legal nonsense. You also have to ignore competent legal advice and assume the entire judicial structure of the US doesn't really have any authority over you if you just do and say the right things.

A combination of ignorance (in part due to lack of educational focus), an innate desire to believe in conspiracies and of course the Internet itself have created a fertile field for scheme promoters. Years ago, they sold a few books and cassette tapes through word-of-mouth and might have even sold seats in seminars. Now they have the Internet and find a new audience every day.

And it's all just "educational material," and protected free speech, right up until some poor fool winds up trying their new, super-duper-secret strategy in a real legal setting. They make themselves appear not only guilty, but in a few cases even mentally unfit to stand trial. As one Judge put it, the defendant might as well have tried to convince the court that the earth was flat. The defendant wasn't happy about that at all; the "attorney in black robes" was supposed to have simply rolled over and played dead and dismissed the charges under the onslaught of legal accumen. After all, that's what all those guys who post their stories on various forums say happened when they used whoever's method.

Some are less dangerous than others. Some admit they haven't actually tried their techniques in court but of course have heard of lots of successes (which for privacy reasons, they really can't list the actual case cite). One David Van Pelt of Colorado Springs goes by the name of David Merrill (in part to disassociate himself with a prior federal conviction in the Montana Freeman fiasco). He wanders in and out of coherent thought on various Internet forums and on sites he maintains. A short review of his writings, methods and strategies is enough to convince the vast majority of readers that he is truly delusional or at most, just a harmless nut. But someone who doesn't have much common sense or hasn't studied some of the more bizarre nonsense may be lured into trying things that result in being prosecuted.

Of course, Van Pelt risks nothing in trying to get people to try and discern what he's talking about long enough to try his methods; few of these kinds of fiction writers ever do face suit or prosecution unless one of their client/followers (like Snipes) raises their theory to the level of doing things like defrauding the government based on what they have advised.

And a fool willing to try these kinds of things in civil matters (like debt collections or foreclosure) will have unclean hands trying to go after the author/promoter when they lose their case.

So all one can hope to do is warn reasonable folks that taking advice from people who promote unsound and irrational conspiracy-driven legal nonsense is the path to more trouble, not less.

Just ask Wesley Snipes - in a few months.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bank of America’s “Higher Standards”

Before you walk in to your “friendly neighborhood” BofA branch to deposit a check, you better beware that at least in California, if they decide to have you falsely arrested and jailed, you can’t sue them for what they did.

A San Fransisco man found that out the hard way when he went into a BofA with a check made out to him – a check that turned out to be written by an unauthorized party on a company account. Matthew Shinnick thought he had sold his bicycles on Craigslist and didn’t want to deposit the check in his own account just in case it might bounce and hit his account with yet another creative bank fee. So he asked the teller to verify that it would clear and after a few moments, she told him it would.

Shinnick’s primary mistake was deciding to cash it instead of just depositing it. Maybe he thought having the cash in hand was better than risking a stop-payment some days in the future (and yet another bank fee). Maybe he thought that because the bank said the check wouldn’t bounce that it was good.

Either way, what he didn’t know was what the bank knew. Yes, there was money in the account to cover the check, but the check itself was bogus. The account the check was drawn on was actually flagged for potential fraudulent use. He endorsed it and the teller took it to her manager.

Four police officers soon had him in handcuffs and later led him away to jail where he spent twelve hours as a guest of the City of San Francisco crowded into a tiny holding cell with way too many other men.

And of course the charges were eventually dropped and a Judge has taken the steps to expunge all records of the case, but Shinnick and anyone else who raises the eyebrows of BofA branch employees and gets arrested for it can’t sue for false arrest. Turns out the California Supreme Court decided that criminal reports are privileged communication. Basically, institutions aren’t liable for reporting suspected crimes. (Hagberg v. California Federal Bank.)

With all the check-scamming going on, especially the typical Nigerian 419-style tricks, any time you get a check from someone you don’t know very well, don’t take it into a California bank, especially a BofA.

And even if you do just endorse it and deposit it, don’t assume that just because the money shows up as being in your account that they can’t come back and take it if it turns out to be bogus some days down the road. You might find yourself in the hole. That's still a better hole than the one the Police will put you in, though!

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Monday, August 07, 2006

Well, a hopeful message for borrowers – maybe

The Squaliformes' bought-and-paid-for congressional committee chair, Bob Ney has finally seen the light and won’t be running for reelection. Hopefully his pro-Squaliforme agenda will see less influence in the coming legislative sessions.

Amazingly, the blame is being put on the Abramoff scandal instead of the more devious but blatant efforts to undermine consumer protections at the behest of predatory lenders and servicers.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in January to federal corruption charges. Ney received gifts and other benefits in exchange for legislative action to benefit his clients, but unlike Abramoff, the lending industry’s massive campaign contributions and lobbyist's influence (including actually writing his legislative efforts) are seemingly above investigation.

At least there is some satisfaction in the public exposure that the Squaliformes knew quite well who they could effectively manipulate in their cultivation of Ney.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The thing that wouldn't die

As the Dorean Group saga grinds on in seeming perpetuity through the court, the "victims" of the scheme are also facing the music. Consider the judgment against Greg Poppin, of California, who got a trust set up in Johnson & Heineman's swindle for a property in Grass Valley.

After ordering the bogus Dorean documents cancelled, rendered void and expunged from the county records, the judge left it up to the Plaintiff (lender) as to whether they could go ahead and foreclose, or in addition, collect damages jointly and severally against Heineman, Johnson and Poppin in the amount of nearly $390,000 (plus interest) and over $16,000 in attorney's fees and costs. All of which stands there and collects interest until paid. With the perpetrators incarcerated and facing long sentences, Poppin (the client) was left to face the music.

So another one of the faithful falls on the Dorean sword, while Johnson (or at least someone who purports to be him) posts ever-more bizarre religious dogma on his blog. In between pumping up the martyr angle, he languishes in a California jail generating hundreds of pages of legal drivel with his partner on government-supplied notebook computers.

A lot of what Johnson and Heineman rail on about contains little more than plagiarized cut and paste nonsense from die-hard radicals who have tried for decades to convince their merry band of sycophants they really aren't who they are, the law isn't the law and the whole US Government is bogus, including the court system. If one believes Johnson, Christ has sent angels to burn down judge's homes and continues to counsel him.

This kind of nonsense is even a profitable venture for some. For a few, it's not much more than a notably silly hobby, complete with inane ramblings on multiple web sites that typically espouse almost every conspiracy they can allude to and some that are truly delusional and even completely imaginary. Some of it is quite possibly a strange on-line laboratory experiment; a game of wits vs. half-wits where someone is testing to see just how gullible people can be.

A lot of it is so far out even the late-night AM radio bastion of whacky theories (the Art Bell "Coast to Coast" show) won't give them credence - and that is telling. Thus they're relegated to the Internet, CD's, books and DVD's, group meetings and a handful of hysterically funny public demonstrations. And let us not forget the laughable court filings.

In this culture of self-induced paranoia, the arguments don't evolve; they mutate. Context be damned. Definitions of words can be argued for days, weeks, months. The cycle of lunacy repeats itself when a theory dies under its own weight of stupidity but someone new (or under another name) comes along later and dredges up an old post or link and fans the flames once again.

Proponents and authors of such crap sometimes wind up in actual trouble with the law. Then they often find themselves ruled against in the very courts they've been telling people don't have jurisdiction over them. I suppose we're forced to chalk that one up to deeper and more sinister conspiracies among the Judges and the attorneys.

A lot of the courts are just too damn sympathetic with these nut balls. The amount of time invested in reading some of the voluminous BS and writing some of the more detailed rulings is astonishing. And because it's available on the Internet, the garbage proliferates and shows up in other cases.

I, on the other hand, have freed my court of such burdens. There's a setting on the ol' Acme cattle-prod from 1 to 5. The more pages of loony drivel I have to read, the higher the setting gets. (On "5" the spark can go clean through several pages on its way through the fool's buttock.)

I'm thinking of sending my backup unit to the Northern District of California. Judge Alsup may be able to persuade Johnson and Heineman to move things along a bit.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Data Schemers Get Nipped at by FTC

As pointed out some time ago by placing him among those on my Squaliformes “Hall of Shame” list, Jay Patel’s hunger for private information to sell about other people is seemingly endless.

He may have to go on a little bit of a data-diet. Not to worry for Jay and his gang, the toothless FTC won't put him (or them) out of business; that would send a signal to all data whores that the Feds are serious about privacy, and doing that wouldn't sit well with the movers and shakers in Washington.

It looks like the FTC has moved to act against Patel and his firm (AccuSeach / Abika) by charging him and four other Squaliforme enablers with violations of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The FTC says they were using or causing others to use, “false pretenses, fraudulent statements, fraudulent or stolen documentation or other misrepresentations, including posing as a customer of a telecommunications carrier, to induce officers, employees, or agents of telecommunications carriers to disclose confidential customer phone records."

Joining in on the scheme and being outed in the FTC suits are also “77 Investigations,” run by Reg Kimbro (in either Upland, California or Broomfield, Colorado), David Kacala’s Baltimore-based “Information Search,” “Integrity Security and Investigation Services” in Yorktown, VA, and last but not least, Scott Joseph’s “CEO Group”(Check Em Out) out of Ft. Lauderdale.

Half the fun will be the FTC’s effort to get the money they all made from the scheme. In that little dance, maybe the FTC might even find out who was buying the information and keeping these crooks in business.

'Round here, that would be only a good start. But with the FTC playing the sleeping-dog role in so many information privacy issues when financial services firms are at the controls in Congress, it's unlikely the penalty will actually put anyone out of business. So the settlements, like so many other alleged prosecutions, will simply show the rest of them how to navigate the waters.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wounded Squaliforme Changes Course - Sort Of

Mega-Squaliforme Ameriquest's parent company has cut thousands of Ameriquest employees and closed its retail office storefront lending operations.

That's the good news. Hundreds of thousands of consumers are in slightly less danger for the time being.

The bad news is there are now at least a thousand ex-Ameriquest loan agents who may start showing up at the doorsteps of other, less unscrupulous lenders. It will be interesting to see what companies are willing to jepoardize their own already-dubious reputations by letting some of these people stay in the lending industry.

'Round here, any former Ameriquest employee is not to be trusted, let alone hired. After all, you have to be really flexible in terms of moral turpitude to stay working for a Squaliforme of that magnitude.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sales 101

Imagine ol’ Bean could offer you a product at very low cost that would instantly generate incremental (that’s over and above existing for the accounting challenged) revenue and profits for your business.

What if this very low-cost product would more than pay for itself in the first month you bought it? And that every month after the first month, the increased revenue is guaranteed to keep coming in? And unlike some products, you won’t have to add staff, rent more space, buy more phones, fax machines or copiers – none of that.

It’s the salesperson’s dream product – the prospect can’t say “no.”

How could you not buy this product? You’d be crazy not to; your board of directors and the stockholders would toss your dumbass out if you didn’t buy that product. If you found some mid-level manager in your company who decided not to buy this product, you’d have some serious “evaluating” to do with that manager’s department head – right after getting the product ordered.

No doubt about it. No senior decision-level executive is going to let an opportunity like this get by – especially the squaliformes.

The sleeping watchdogs over at the FTC are looking at yet another mortgage-related scam involving how PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) rates are being jacked up by insurers who happen to buy a product from the credit-reporting squaliformes – without telling the consumer, of course.

This handy-dandy product just happens to be information that may or may not be accurate, but it sure does give the insurer’s revenue and profits a nice boost, and since the consumer has no clue as to what was in the product, they are simply stuck with the inflated insurance premium.

Now we can rest assured the squaliformes will attempt to imply that negative credit information means their risk is raised so they should be able to raise premiums. But one only has to ask the question if anyone’s premiums were ever lowered because of looking for improved credit data?

Hmmmm. That’s just not one of the products available – probably because it’s never been asked for. After all, who would buy a product that reduces revenue and profits?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Weird-scam Capitol of the US

Far be it from this Honorable Court to pick on other, less fortunately endowed territories, but there comes a time when even this Judge’s favorite ski destination must take a hard look in the mirror.

Granted, on a per-square mile basis, there aren’t a lot of people who live in most of Utah, but among those that do, there are some of the oddest of the kooks, and this most recent series of incidents indicates, at least to this court, that the inmates are soon to be in control of the asylum.

Not content to be just the home of the whacky polygamist splinter-faction of the Mormon church (a shared “distinction” with Arizona), Utah is home to some of the fastest-growing financial scams ever devised. Anything to do with “affinity marketing” seems to work in Utah so just by living there you can count on being a neighbor to a serial MLM’er.

And garden-variety silliness in the legal lalla-land seems to have found a home in Utah.

Take for example, something called the “Western Arbitration Council,” who set up shop in Sandy, Utah (which appears on maps as a suburb to the Capitol, Salt Lake City).

Scammers have used the WAC to pull all kinds of stupid pet tricks, including one couple in Kansas who pulled one of these worthless “awards” against the insurance company that bonds the bankruptcy Trustee overseeing their Chapter 7 filing. They got sentenced to 18 months for mail and bankruptcy fraud.

Another whacko in California, one Curtis Richmond, has been dancing a rain dance in multiple Federal courts with alleged arbitration awards from the WAC, including one for over fifteen-million against Citibank. His similar scam against EFS Bank has landed him in a contempt hearing after being ordered to stop filing stupid motions and letters in the case he lost with prejudice. He really gets around – he has an “award” against the Colorado Supreme Court, too and is filing yet another action in an Arizona court to get yet another body to read even more gibberish about the Citibank case.

And what do these all have in common, other than the bogus WAC “awards?”

It only gets “WACkier”. Turns out Richmond fancies himself as a member of something called the “Wampanoag Nation, Tribe of Grayhead, Wolf Band.”* One Dale Stevens of Vernal, Utah, is not only Chief, he’s also a “Supreme Court Judge.” And yet another nutball from that area of the State, one Thomas Smith, is a member of the tribe as well as the Chief Tribal Judge – AND – director of arbitration for the WAC.

Another of Vernal’s band of fools, tribe member James Burbank, doesn’t believe the law about license plates and driver’s licenses applies to him because of his membership in the “tribe.” When the state impounded his vehicle he, too, got an “award” from the WAC against the county officials.

And if that isn’t fun enough, out in Hawaii, one outfit known as “Americorp International LLC,” was before the Hawaii Real Estate Commission trying to get approved, but there was this little hang-up: A little IRS matter involving one Bruce Travis, who seemed to be trying to convince the Commission (unsuccessfully, by the way) that the WAC had issued an judgment against the IRS on his behalf, essentially voiding a $247,000 assessment. But only recently, Travis has changed tactics, and is now suing the IRS (again) on the basis that they never provided him with legitimate assessments for taxes since 1996. His prior, similar suit was dismissed and of interest is the fact that it’s an almost identical copy of about twelve other suits from tax protesters around the country.

This court has to wonder if the source of their “legal expertise” came out of Utah.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

*Not to be confused with the legitimate Wampanoa Tribe of Gay Head

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Big Squaliformes Must Eat in Volume

You can’t make the numbers (and a career) at Ameriquest without some really heavy origination volume. So much so that when the going gets tough, the typical hyper-motivated (greedy) Ameriquest brokers swing into their creativity act.

A recent Utah case filed in Federal Court is yet another stunning example of how far these Squaliformes will go in luring victims into loans they know are going to result in foreclosure, AND, of course, yet another opportunity for the REO and lending industry as a whole.

Marian Paul fell into the Ameriquest maw in March of 2005, after being lured by mailers into calling to get information about a mortgage loan to repay a $4,000 debt.

Very late one evening, only a few days after receiving several calls from Ameriquest, two of the Squaliformes’ employees showed up unannounced at her Salt Lake City home.

They not only lied to her about the terms of the deal (telling her she was saving a lot of money compared to what she could get at her credit union), when she told them she wanted to wait to let her daughter read over the terms, they told her she had to sign that night because they couldn’t come back.

Paul ended up with a $60,000.00 Ameriquest loan that paid off her lower-interest credit union loan and her auto loan – without her knowledge.

The fact that she is a 73 year old widow with cataracts, has little or no formal education and does not read English well must have been the icing on the cake for the daring team of Ameriquest employees who set this one into action.

Predictably, in November of 2005, another Squaliforme bought the predatory loan, (Deutsche Bank National Trust), and immediately put the loan in default.

Given the giant sub-prime Squaliformes’ well-deserved reputation for sleazy lending practices, this one will probably never make it all the way to a jury trial. But, hopefully the court records will reveal who the individual perpetrators of this one are prior to the settlement and closing of the case.

In this court, there won’t be any privacy for the likes of these scum.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, February 10, 2006

It’s Taxpayer “Hunting Season” over at H&R Block/HSBC

Hurry, hurry – get those tax filings in – and it’s soooooo easy to get your refund fast with electronic filing through H&R Block.

But before you fall victim to HSBC’s heavily promoted program to basically loan you your tax return early, consider what one poster at the creditinfocenter forums (see link at left) discovered by taking the time to read the fine print:

By clicking I AGREE below I am indicating that I have read, understand and agree to the Application, including but not limited to: (a) [b] Section 9 in which I agree that HSBC may use amounts received from my tax refund to pay delinquent debts I owe HSBC or others.
Clever these Squaliformes are, eh? I particularly like the "or others" end of the scheme. Wonder how "the others" are getting notified that people are filing their taxes and getting refunds? Maybe a little too much cooperation.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Friday, January 20, 2006

Dodging Responsibility - How the Game is Played, NY Style.

A news item out of New York, home to none other than alleged consumer-advocate but mostly presidential-wannabe Eliot Spitzer, caught the Court’s attention only briefly, but after a few nights sleep, the Court is hereby convened in the case of the People v. The New York Consumer Protection Board and the New York State Bar Association.

Without elaborating in the case style, the complaint now before this Court is:

Whereas, instead of aggressively enforcing state laws and bar association tenets regarding the actions of debt collectors and their law firms, the Board (with the apparent blessing of the Bar Association) is engaging in an effort to combat abusive debt-collection practices by educating consumers.

According to a quote in the story, agency spokesman John Sorensen said: "People who owe money have to repay debts, but they should also know they have rights under the law."

So to avoid the hard, dirty work of confronting bottom-feeding law firms and the Echeneidae Collectoris they front for, the Board will spend tax dollars to put on a show for various community groups around the state to inform them about their rights.

The court has seen in camera a pre-release version of the training video, and submits a transcript of it into evidence to wit:

New York: “See the man with the gun?”

Consumer/victim: “Uhh, that one?”

New York: “Yes, that one. The one with the loaded gun pointed at

Consumer/victim: “Yes, I see him.”

New York: “Good. Keep an eye on him. You have rights.”

Consumer/victim: “Why is he pointing the gun at me?”

New York: “He wants something from you.”

Consumer/victim: “What does he want?”

New York: “Probably money.”

Consumer/victim: “But I don’t even know him.”

New York: “That doesn’t matter. He says he knows you. In fact, he knows all about you.”

Consumer/victim: “I didn’t think you could own a handgun in New York.”

New York: “You can’t.”

Consumer/victim: “But he can?”

New York: “Nope. And we’re warning you that it’s illegal to own a handgun.”

Consumer/victim: “But you won’t do anything to him?”

New York: “He’s an attorney. And he hasn’t used it yet, has he?”

Consumer/victim: “Well, sort of. I think he’s threatening me with it.”

New York: “But he hasn’t shot you, has he?”

Consumer/victim: “Not yet. I guess he won’t shoot if I give him what he wants.”

New York: “Probably not. If he does, be sure to dial 911.”

Consumer/victim: “I hope someone will.”

New York: “Consider yourself informed. Our work here is done.”

Not exactly how we'd handle it 'round here. Any member of the aforesaid Board who sets foot on this side of the Pecos is in for a rude and short grand-tour of the jail follwed by a week's hard labor over at the county dump.

And for members of the NY Bar Association, don't expect to appear pro hac vice in my court until you clean up your own house up there.

A special admonishment to Mr. Spitzer's office is in order here. In the same news article, a spokeswoman for the AG indicated that there are two investigations going on into the actions of the Echeneidae Collectoris operating in New York.

The court admonishes the AG's office for abject failure to perform it's role - only two out of the thousands of Echeneidae Collectoris skulking around in New York are being investigated? That's a major blunder on the part of the spokesperson for revealing that absurdly low number, when even the BBB (another toothless watchdog) indicates collection complaints are number three on its list. But of course, in the eyes of the BBB anyone complaining about Echeneidae Collectoris has to be some kind of deadbeat trying to get out of paying what they owe.

Perhaps as the presidential election approaches, Mr. Spitzer's office will find room for a few more announcements about investigations, even if they never turn into actual prosecutions with real penalties.

Hint to the NY AG: Do a Google Search on "Orazio Lembo." The folks over there in NJ have a long list of Echeneidae Collectoris and their NY law firms who willingly participated.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Abramoff – Not the First, Certainly Not the Last

The smell up yonder in Washington finally got strong enough for somebody to kick someone's ass to do something, and what'ya know - they’ve found the perfect deep-pocketed, well-connected fall-guy, Jack Abramoff.

And hopefully, there are going to be some members of Congress and the Senate dragged into the light of day for not only dealing with Abramoff, but with other lobbyists who basically pave the streets with money, dealing in favors and perks for the powerful.

At the top of the list of tainted lawmakers, scurrying now like roaches when the light comes on, is none other than the man identified as “Number 1” in the investigation, Bob Ney, Republican Congressman from Ohio.

What most of the news media is swarming around is the Congressman’s position as Chairman of the House Administration Committee, all the while being led in that direction because of Ney’s handling of election reform issues the committee deals with. That, it seems, will always get the media’s attention because the news media believes it, not the average person, should steer elections and their results.

But under that umbrella, Ney’s far more profound impact on the average consumer will probably be kept out of the rain of publicity it so richly deserves.

As will his other cozy lobbyist pal, Wright Andrews of the Butera Andrews “law” firm, a lobbying powerhouse for many of the financial services firms and their associations. Saying Andrews is a Squaliforme promoter doesn’t do him, or them justice. Suffice it to say, nothing that Andrews and the Squaliformes don’t like will end up in a bill that comes out of Ney’s Financial Services Sub-committee.

In the guise of standardizing the patchwork of laws that have cropped up because of deliberate stalling of real lending reform efforts, Andrews has Ney promoting something called the “Responsible Lending Act,” which is little more than a nation-wide license for Squaliformes to supersede state laws that protect consumers.

Having stepped down (as in, ousted) from the House Administration Chairmanship, it isn’t yet clear whether or not Ney will get to keep his Chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee.

Hopefully, Andrews’ key to the kingdom and shepherd of the Squaliformes’ “Responsible Lending Act” will be forced from office and more appropriate pro-consumer legislation can find its way out of the stranglehold the industry has had on the committee.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A note from the Clerk of the Court

His Honor wishes to advise all in the surrounding environs that he has recovered from his extended vacation and Court will resume in normal fashion, er, well, let's just say shortly.

Oh, and a prosperous New Year to all - with the exception of the Squaliformes and scammers out there; to those, y'all are in for a rough year.