Attorney Neil Garfield, ever concerned about public exposure to crooked or incompetent attorneys, writes to readers of his Living Lies blog:
Warning: Conduct your Due Diligence on ANY Attorney you Hire
by Neil Garfield
Before you hire ANY attorney for a phone consultation, to conduct an analysis of your case, or retain them to represent you, please conduct your due diligence first. A simple google search with their name will usually suffice.
In fact, before you hire Neil Garfield for a consultation, case analysis, or other legal matter I suggest you conduct your due-diligence like you would when hiring any professional.
Always use caution if the Bar has publicly reprimanded an attorney.
If you believe you have been a victim of an unethical Florida foreclosure attorney, please report your experience to the Florida Bar at: https://www.floridabar.org/public/acap/assistance/
Contact me at:
Neil Garfield | March 27, 2018 at 2:54 pm
JAX DAILY RECORD MONDAY, AUG. 1, 2016 12:00 PM EST
Supreme Court disciplines 32 attorneys
The Florida Supreme Court disciplined 32 attorneys — disbarring six, revoking the licenses of two, suspending 16 and publicly reprimanding eight.
Two attorneys were also placed on probation and another was ordered to pay restitution.
The attorneys are: […]
Neil Franklin Garfield, Parkland, to be publicly reprimanded. (Admitted to practice: 1977) In at least four instances, Garfield accepted money to represent clients and failed to follow through. In one case, Garfield did not perform the work and, when asked for a refund, denied knowing the client. In other cases, he failed to communicate, charged excessive fees, failed to return refunds upon request and failed to timely respond to Bar inquiries.
Neil Garfield’s frivolous filings and bogus legal theories have already cost at least one client, Zdislaw Maslanka, a wad of attorney fees in an utterly frivolous action to get his house free even though he remained current in his mortgage payments. As the docket entries below show, the Florida 4th District appellate panel affirmed the 17th Circuit’s dismissal of the case and ordered Maslanka to pay the attorney fees of the two mortgage creditors that he sued.
- 4D14-3015-Zdzislaw E. Maslanka v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Embrace Home Loans
05/12/2016 Affirmed Per Curiam Affirmed 05/12/2016 Order Granting Attorney FeesUnconditionally ORDERED that the appellee Embrace Home Loans Inc.’s September 2, 2015 motion for attorney’s fees is granted. On remand, the trial court shall set the amount of the attorney’s fees to be awarded for this appellate case. If a motion for rehearing is filed in this court, then services rendered in connection with the filing of the motion, including, but not limited to, preparation of a responsive pleading, shall be taken into account in computing the amount of the fee 05/12/2016 Order Granting Attorney FeesUnconditionally ORDERED that the appellee Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s September 3, 2015 motion for attorneys’ fees is granted. On remand, the trial court shall set the amount of the attorneys’ fees to be awarded for this appellate case. If a motion for rehearing is filed in this court, then services rendered in connection with the filing of the motion, including, but not limited to, preparation of a responsive pleading, shall be taken into account in computing the amount of the fee.
Last but not least, here is the text of an 8-page report that Neil Garfield charged Vincent Newman THOUSANDS of dollars for, advising a foreclosure defense and TILA rescission strategy. Newman obtained a pick-a-pay loan in 2010 to purchase a home, then defaulted. Garfield idiotically suggested mailing a notice of TILA rescission in 2016, and then suing to enforce it, without regard to the fact that the TILA statute of repose of 3 years for conditional rescission had already tolled, and the creditor had not violated TILA. Garfield thereby illustrated his delusional misunderstanding of conditional TILA rescission which the law allows only for non-purchase-money loans like refinances and HELOCS in which the creditor failed to give the borrower required disclosures of the right to cancel and the cost of the loan not more than $35 understated. No such TILA violation occurred in Newman’s case. Thus, Neil Garfield’s incompetent advice, had Newman heeded it, would have caused Newman expense and embarrassment through a frivolous, failing TILA rescission effort.
———————- Garfield’s Expensive Report to Newman —————–
This is a review and report and not a definitive statement of opinion on the entire case strategy.
Since the property is located in Florida and Mr. Garfield is licensed in Florida, he is qualified to
give both expert opinions and legal opinions.
RE: Vincent Newman and his Wife
Phone No.: 954-554-6487
Email Address: email@example.com
JUDGMENT ENTERED 2011,
SALE DATE CANCELED MULTIPLE TIMES
FEDERAL ACTION TO ENJOIN USE OF NOTE AND MORTGAGE SUGGESTED
1. The address of the property in question is 6401 Garfield Street, Hollywood, Florida, 33024 in Broward County.
2. The property is in foreclosure. As of December 29, 2015 Mr. Newman reports that he hired an attorney, started modification and is not current on payments.
3. He has requested a review and commentary in connection with his property and his loan.
4. He has already filed a petition for relief in bankruptcy court under Chapter 7 and apparently converted to Chapter 13. Motion to lift stay was filed and presumably granted. The name of his attorney in the State Court action, Case No. CACE10041220 is Evan Plotka, in the 17 th Judicial Circuit for Broward County [Florida].
5. Mr. Newman reports that in 2010 they were 3 months behind in their payments. Acting through a HUD counselor there was apparently an agreement that was reached in September 2010 where they would catch up on the three payments. According to Mr. Newman Wells Fargo broke the agreement, refused to discuss the matter any further and Mr. Newman and his wife apparently were served with a summons and compliant that October 2010. If they have correspondence proving the existence of the deal, then this would be a point to raise in defense as a possible violation of either estoppel 1 or dual tracking, which was not passed until after the agreement.
1 If the agreement can be proven (they will most likely deny it), then even without the Dodd-Frank prohibition against dual tracking, the homeowners reasonably relied upon the existence of the agreement and made payments that were accepted. Wells Fargo has a history of accepting payments under oral modifications and then abandoning the agreement without accounting for the payments — which often makes the default letter wrong as to the missing payments.
6. Disclosures as to the true funding of the origination of the loan, the acquisition of the debt (as opposed to the acquisition of the paper) and the true party in interest who could be plaintiff are all absent, which is the same thing that I have seen as an expert witness and as an attorney many times with Wells Fargo. Many entities, like World Savings and Wachovia boasted they were funding their own loans. This was nearly never true. The loan papers may have been originated back in 2010 but the disclosure of the money trail has never been made.
7. Mr. Newman answered the summons and complaint without the help of legal counsel and served interrogatories on the plaintiff that he says were never answered.
8. He has apparently been through several attorneys that were merely kicking the can down the road to buy more time without making mortgage payments but of course having Mr. Newman make monthly payments to the attorney.
9. According to the registration statement submitted by Mr. Newman the original loan was with World Savings Mortgage which merged into Wachovia and then Wells Fargo. I think what he meant was World Savings Bank which was acquired by Wachovia Bank which in turn was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank. The case was filed as Wells Fargo Bank as plaintiff. From prior experience we know that this is probably a ruse intended to cover up the fact that they don’t know who the creditor is and they are hoping that a judge will simply take their word for it.
10. Mr. Newman has provided a docket from the Clerk of the Circuit Court which indicates that the property has been set for sale several times. This would indicate in turn that a final judgment of foreclosure was entered. However I do not see on the docket the description of an order granting summary judgment or a final judgment of foreclosure entered in favor of Wells Fargo. I presume that such a judgment exists or the sale would never have been scheduled.
11. As of December 30, 2015 Wells Fargo is showing a balance due of $93,979.25, with an unpaid principle balance of $200,338.10, an escrow balance of $31,855.05, carrying an interest rate of 6.5 percent with a maturity date in July 2049.
12. Based upon my knowledge of the parties involved, and specifically in this case Loan No. 0483028569 2 , I believe that the loan is in fact claimed by a trust which in fact does not own it. The loan was in my opinion most likely never funded by World Savings Bank, Wachovia or Wells Fargo. It is my opinion that none of those entities paid for either the origination or the acquisition of the loan and that any documents to the contrary are fabricated and most likely forged. The system at Wells Fargo if this case actually goes to trial at some point will show that probably Fanny Mae or Freddie Mac was the “investor” from the start. However, since the government sponsored entities generally function in only two areas 3 , it seems unlikely, to say the least, that the investor would be correctly identified in the Wells Fargo system that they would use at trial unless they have changed their method of fabricating business records.
2 Client advises that the loan number changed recently. The reasons for this change should be investigated.
3 The statutory authority of the GSE’s (Fannie and Freddie) allow for them to operate as guarantors and/or Master Trustees of REMIC Trusts who were intended to own the debt, note and mortgage. The “hidden” REMIC Trusts operate the same as private label and publicly registered REMIC Trusts. And they suffer from the same defects — the money from investors never made it into any account owned by the Trust or the Trustee, which means that the Trust could not possibly have paid for loans. The Trust would be an inactive trust devoid of any business, operations, assets, liabilities, income or expenses.
13. For reasons that I will discuss below, it is my opinion that the homeowners in this case should send a notice of rescission and we will discuss whether that notice should be recorded. In addition there should be consideration of a federal lawsuit seeking to enforce the rescission and seeking an injunction to prevent Wells Fargo from using the note and mortgage against the Newmans. I would further add that in my opinion from my review of the documents that were provided by the client there is a strong likelihood of success using standard foreclosure defense strategies.
14. In the court file is a notice of action which states that Vincent Newman and Imelda Newman both stated as avoiding service at the address of 6401 Garfield Street, Hollywood, Florida, 33024. This indicates to me that the service in 2010 was a “drive by” service in which no real effort was made to find or serve Mr. or Mrs. Newman.
15. This in turn leads me to believe that this was typical foreclosure mill actions and that Wells Fargo still has not fulfilled its obligation to review the business records to determine the ownership or balance of the loan. Or to put it differently, they probably did know about the problems with ownership and balance of the loan and wanted the foreclosure sale anyway. Based upon my preliminary review it would appear that Wells Fargo Bank made payments to the certificate holders of a trust under a category known mainly in the industry as “servicer advances.”
16. Based upon their statement I would say that their servicer advances totaled more than $90,000.00. The longer the case goes the higher is the value of their claim to recover their “servicer advances.” However, those advances, while made, came from a comingled account consisting entirely of investor money. Therefore there is no actual action for recovery of the servicer advances.
17. The case was apparently filed in January 2011. Or if the case was not filed at that time then additional paperwork was added to the file at that point. Since the case number refers to the year 2010 I am presuming that they filed a skeleton case in order to have the case filed before the end of the year.
18. The complaint is interesting in that, as usual, Wells Fargo does not allege that it is the owner of the debt. It alleges that it is the owner and holder of the note and mortgage. And of course it alleges that a default exists but it does not state the party to whom the money is owed nor the statement of ultimate facts upon which the court could arrive at the conclusion that the actual creditor has suffered a default or loss as a result of the payments being stopped.
19. The alleged loan, which in my opinion was never funded by World Savings Bank, was a reverse amortization (pick a payment) loan. This loan was probably sold in one form or another 20 or 30 times. The capital from the sale of the loans probably funded many other loans.
20. There is a request filed in January 2011 for the original promissory note, and the contact information for the current holder of the note, which was never answered. This might have some relevancy to a claim contesting jurisdiction of the court.
21. While the docket that was sent to me by Mr. Newman did not appear to contain the final judgment for the plaintiff, the documents that he sent and which were uploaded contain a final judgment for plaintiff. The final judgment apparently was a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff on November 17, 2011 at 1:30 p.m.
22. As expected, the documents in the possession of Mr. Newman contain a mortgage servicing transfer disclosure. Hence we have evidence of the transfer of servicing rights but not transfer of ownership of the debt. 4 In my opinion this corroborates my conclusion that the loan was subject to claims of securitization starting at a time before consummation could have ever occurred. In my opinion the loan was table funded, which means that the actual source of funds for the loan was another party to whom the documents would be “assigned” immediately after, or even before the apparent “closing.”
4 This is especially relevant to the issue of whether the alleged loan is subject to claims (probably false claims) of securitization. Each of the alleged entities in the “Chain” had robust servicing capacities. The transfers of servicing duties makes no sense and explains nothing except that the usual pattern of musical chairs was being employed to confuse the issues surrounding “holder” of the note etc. The presumptions that are ordinarily used for a holder of a note should not be allowed, in my opinion, because of the history of flagrant violations by Wells Fargo and its predecessors. Producing evidence of a pattern of conduct of fabrication, forgery, robo-signing etc should enable the attorney to argue that the presumptions should not apply, thus requiring Wells Fargo to prove the money trial and ownership of the debt, which they will never do.
23. In my opinion the mortgage document was improper in that it failed to disclose a hidden balloon payment. By having negative amortization or reverse amortization, the balance that is owed as principal continues to increase. Under the terms of the mortgage when it reaches 115 percent of the original loan principal, the loan automatically reverts to standard amortization which is what caused so many people, including the Newmans, to default. Borrowers were seduced into taking these highly complex loan products under the supposition that they would later be able to refinance again, taking “equity” out of the home and providing them with the resources to make the payments. The effect of these loans is to cause a balloon payment at the end of a short period of time. Thus the balloon was not disclosed and the term of the loan was not disclosed because the full amortization of the loan was beyond the financial capacity of the “borrower.”
24. In my opinion the assertion by Wells Fargo that it is the investor, the creditor, the lender, or the successor lender is and always has been false. It appears that no sale of the property has taken place and that none is scheduled based upon information I received from Mr. Newman on December 29, 2015 in a telephone consultation. Even though a judgment has been entered, it is my opinion that the rights and obligations of the parties are still defined by the alleged note and the alleged mortgage. Hence the sending of a notice of rescission and the recording of a notice of interest in real property under Florida Statute 712.05 would be appropriate as a strategy. I also think that an action filed in federal court to enjoin Wells Fargo from the use of the note and mortgage would be appropriate. The basis for the action would be, after notice of rescission had been sent, and presumably after the 20 days from receipt of the notice of rescission had expired, the loan contract was cancelled, the note and mortgage became void as of the date of mailing of the notice of rescission.
25. There is also another strategy of alleging a fraud upon the court, but I don’t think that would get much traction.
26. What I think can get some traction is a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for having presented the false evidence to the court. The difference is that you are not accusing the court of wrongdoing, you are accusing Wells Fargo of wrongdoing and taking advantages. I believe that considering the history that the Newmans report in their narrative that substantial compensatory damages might be awarded, but that punitive damages do not appear to be likely at this time. That is not to say that punitive damages will not be awarded. As time goes on, more and more courts are becoming aware of the fact that the type of foreclosure system has been a sham. Each time another judgment for settlement is reached it becomes apparent that the banks are continuing to engage in the same behavior and simply paying fines for it as a cost of doing business.
27. As Mr. Newman knows, I do not accept many engagements to directly represent homeowners in these actions. I think that in this case I would be willing to accept the engagement, along with co-counsel, Patrick Giunta. I would have to review this file with him to confirm, but the likelihood is that the initial retainer would be in excess of $5,000.00 and that the monthly payment of our fee would be at least $2,000.00. There would also be court costs and other expenses amounting to over $1,000.00.
28. Another option is to seek out another attorney who is willing to take on the case and use my services as litigation support. The hourly rate I charge for all matters, whether as attorney or expert witness is $650.00. The hourly rate of most other attorneys is significantly below that. The actual amount of work required from me if I am in the position of litigation support would be vastly reduced and thus the expense of having me work on the Newman file would be significantly reduced, enabling the Newmans to hire counsel who is receptive to me providing litigation support.
29. In all engagements, in which I am the attorney, or providing litigation support, there is also a contingency fee that varies from 20 percent to 35 percent of any amount paid in hand to the homeowner. Specifically this means that if the case is settled or resolved in a manner in which title to the property becomes unencumbered, the contingency fee would not apply to the house itself, but only to other damages that were paid in connection with the settlement or collection of a judgment.
Job Number: 16039-001
Custom Filename: Newman
Billed Words: 2069