Gansler gains victory in foreclosure case
BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Baltimore City Circuit Court has handed down a judgment for Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler of nearly $1 million against participants in a foreclosure rescue scam.
Rodney Spellen, Mid Atlantic Consulting, Inc., Jemel Lyles, Absoloot Ventures Inc., Brian Boyd, 1st Choice Property Management Firm, Inc., Sahar Ali, Alan Muniu, Phillip George, Certified Title & Escrow, Inc., and Reggie Simmons were alleged to have violated Maryland's laws against foreclosure rescue scams.
The judgment, issued by Judge Pamela J. White, bars the defendants from offering and selling any kind of services to a homeowner who is in default on a mortgage or is in foreclosure. The judgment also requires payment of $987,030 in damages, restitution and penalties.
A complaint filed by the Consumer Protection Division in June 2008 alleged that the defendants had participated in an illegal foreclosure rescue scheme. The complaint alleged that the defendants, working together, promised consumers that they would save their homes from foreclosure and restore their credit ratings.
The defendants instead attempted to take the titles of consumers' homes, which they would then strip of equity, a violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, the Maryland Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act and the Maryland Credit Services Businesses Act, it is alleged.
A summary judgment was entered by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on Nov. 9 in favor of the Division against each of the defendants except Reggie Simmons. A subsequent trial was held Nov. 23-24 to determine Simmons' liability as well as the appropriate measure of damages, restitution and penalties for each of the defendants. At that trial, each of the defendants was found to have violated Maryland law and ordered to pay the $987,030 monetary judgment.
The case involved a total of 10 consumers' homes. The defendants will pay $757,030 - the amount of equity found by the court to have been stripped from the homes - and penalties amounting to $230,000.
"Maryland law prohibits foreclosure consultants from attempting to strip equity from the homes of vulnerable consumers," Gansler said. "The court's order should send a strong message to unscrupulous individuals who operate these illegal schemes and take advantage of consumers desperate to keep their homes."