By Noreen Marcus, FloridaBulldog.org
Broward Circuit Judge Andrea Gundersen, who runs the court’s foreclosure docket, often rules for banks and against homeowners even when the banks use sketchy documents, a consumer watchdog charges in a recent report.
Released in May, the report got scant attention until Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko took the dramatic step of holding Bank of America, the Bank of New York Mellon and their lawyer in contempt for failing to answer questions about possible fraud in a foreclosure case.
The Third District Court of Appeal in Miami tabled the case. If the banks eventually win, nurse Julie Nicolas will lose her North Miami Beach home of nearly 30 years.
The report by the nonprofit Floridians for Honest Lending (FHL) targets robo-signing, the discredited and illegal practice of treating foreclosure papers like assembly line goods.
Endorsements that establish the lender’s legal right to foreclose are stamped and processed robotically. The “signer,” a bank executive, could not possibly know what’s in the papers and vouch for their validity, as is legally required.
In 2012, findings of mortgage loan misconduct, including robo-signing, were supposedly resolved with a $25-billion settlement between the five biggest mortgage servicers and, on the other side, 49 state attorneys general and the Justice Department.
Robo-signing never ended
The next year a dozen U.S. mortgage lenders, most prominently Bank of America and its subsidiary Countrywide Financial, agreed to end robo-signing as part of a $9.3-billion settlement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
But the FHL report based on 2019-2020 South Florida court records shows that illegal robo-signing persists. For example, stacks of mortgage loans originated by the notorious Countrywide bear the signatures of three bank executives–if the papers were legit, a trio that could boast of superhuman powers.
“It’s the same shit now,” said a foreclosure defense lawyer who practices in Broward and commented anonymously, fearing retaliation. “It’s the same names over and over. Clearly, from court records, what’s on the documents are stamps. That’s the evidence right there.”
Consumer activist Laura Wagner, executive director of FHL, drew a connection between the predatory mortgage lending that fueled the 2008 economic meltdown and current practices.
“The banks got caught buying subprime loans at a discount. They made a bet on it and then they realized they made a bad bet, but it was a whole lot of money,” she said.
Now the banks are using all available means, including robo-signing and other abusive tactics, to tap into the enormous value of outstanding mortgage loans, according to Wagner. “So they want everyone to turn a blind eye to it.”
Little media, regulatory scrutiny
The report states, “The banks’ reckless greed left millions of properties with mortgages and promissory notes corrupted and the chain of title on those properties broken, putting trial judges in the uncomfortable position of either taking the banking industry to task for these forged documents or kicking a family out of their home.
“Unfortunately, with little scrutiny from the media, legislators, or regulators, our court system has heavily favored the latter.”
FHL researchers looked at foreclosure complaints filed in Broward and Miami-Dade state courts in 2019 and found 369 with one of a handful of names stamped on the endorsement line. Gundersen handled 217 of the cases in Broward, closed 126 of them and never once ruled for a defendant homeowner.
Consistent with the numbers, Gundersen treats bank lawyers much more courteously than homeowners’ lawyers who challenge suspicious documents, according to the report. It describes how she sometimes orders boat-rocking defense lawyers to pay their wealthy adversaries’ attorney fees.
She doesn’t conduct foreclosure trials, but oversees pre-trial maneuvers and then sends a relatively few cases to Senior Judge Barry Stone for trial. “I respect him and like him and he actually tries to follow the law,” the anonymous Broward defense lawyer said.
The problem is that Gundersen skews discovery and other preliminary matters toward the banks, the lawyer said. “You have to deal with her first and she’s awful to borrowers’ counsel.” No one knows how many arguable defenses Gundersen derails so that they never reach Stone.
JQC investigation of Gundersen?
The FHL report says in April alone Gundersen disqualified herself 19 times when she was accused of pro-bank bias. It says homeowners complained about her to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates judges for ethics violations.
Confidentiality rules prevent Florida Bulldog from verifying the claim that the JQC is reviewing Gundersen’s actions.
Broward Chief Judge Jack Tuter, speaking for the court and Gundersen, responded to the FHL report. He did not address criticisms of her attitude and approach.
Tuter said he’s unaware of any problems involving questionable mortgage paperwork, but “this issue did arise some years ago during the foreclosure crisis. Several opinions from the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach regarding the trustworthiness of records custodians helped to give clarity to what judges could consider.
“I have every confidence Judge Gundersen is following that line of cases and if this is a significant issue again, we would hope the Fourth District would once again render decisions if we are not getting this right,” he said in a statement.
FHL also reviewed records in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, where foreclosure cases are blind-filed and assigned to whichever civil division judge’s name comes up, rather than going to a designated foreclosure judge.
The researchers found that since Jan. 1, 2019, 310 Miami-Dade houses with robo-signed endorsements were sold at auction — 21 of them during the pandemic, according to the report.
The Bruce Jacobs problem
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey, who heads the court’s civil division, responded with this statement: “In each case where a house was sold, a presiding judge reviewed the evidence in the case and entered judgment, after which a foreclosure sale is set. If a party disagreed with the judgment and felt that the judgment was entered in error, the remedy is an appeal.
“To our knowledge, no error was demonstrated in any case that went to sale,” Bailey said in her statement.
Miami-Dade judges who look to the Third District Court of Appeal for guidance on how to deal with foreclosure fraud may see the Bruce Jacobs problem instead.
Jacobs, the Miami lawyer who represents Julie Nicolas in Butchko’s high-profile case, has made it his mission to expose any loan-servicing flaws that hurt his foreclosure defense clients. He has accused Gundersen and other judges of pro-bank bias and fought to disqualify them from hearing his cases.
The organized Bar doesn’t like Jacobs’ confrontational style and may be on the verge of silencing him. In an ethics hearing, Jacobs was found guilty of impugning the integrity of the courts; the referee will send a punishment recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court this month.
Conduct ‘beyond the pale’
Akerman, the law firm that opposes Jacobs in the Nicolas case, convinced the Third District to pause trial court proceedings while the firm attacks Butchko and her contempt order. Akerman lawyers were quick to note the fact that Third District judges have twice accused Jacobs of ethics violations.
This passage from the court’s 2018 opinion in Aquasol Condo Assn. vs. HSBC Bank suggests the judges will not listen dispassionately to his arguments in the Nicolas case:
“Mr. Jacobs’ conduct … violated not only the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar and the Rules of Appellate Procedure, but the most elementary norms of civility and professionalism.
“While judges and attorneys over the course of their career are subjected to isolated instances of incivility, the instant misconduct is beyond the pale, different not simply in degree but in kind. It is egregious misconduct which can be neither excused nor ignored.”
One has to wonder if the outraged response to Jacobs’ combative approach obscures his message: Mortgage banks are using abusive and illegal tactics to separate homeowners from their homes.
Gromit / July 4, 2021 8:31 am
The Judges are corrupt, plain and simple. I was the victim of Robo-“stamper” in Colorado and had so much evidence against Chase (WaMu loan) they left me alone and although they tried, they never foreclosed. BTW, I WAS paying my mortgage all along, but they STILL filed to foreclose.
Ever since MERS has been in place, the “BANKSTERS” have been getting away with murder with regards to falsifying documents with Florida, Colorado and California being the worst of the Judges who go along with this modern day robbery.
I lost the securitization chain on my loan after it was sold (and the bank was paid off). FIVE TIMES! In other words, the bank was paid my mortgage amount 5 X’s, (and who knows how many more times my Note was sold.) Yet, as in tens of thousands of cases, the bank still wants more and forecloses of mostly innocent buyers.
Watch the movie “The Big Short” to get the flavor of what happened in 2008.
Personally, I think these Judges should be indicted for collusion and racketeering.
Anyone wants a copy of a newsletter that one of the biggest eat Robosigning firms puts out, let me know. In it, you’ll see they handed out monetary awards to Law firms for the highest number of foreclosures and “BK” cases….. in the millions of dollars. I sent most of my material to Nick Timerios at the Wall Street Journal, who later called me to confirm it and my source. Within weeks, Gretchen Morgensen of the WSJ wrote a series of articles on the fraud and abuse by the banks.
Despite this continuing nightmare, not a single banister or judge had gone to jail.
Rainmaker / July 4, 2021 10:29 am
Great reporting Florida Bulldog. The obligation of the Press is to hold the government accountable. The Broward County Courthouse is a rigged system with mostly Senior Judges put in place as agents for the bank. These mostly are fictitious foreclosures (clouded titles) hold the homeowner hostage by extortion (pay or seize inflated/illegal debt). Banker ommission of material non-disclosure AB RULE 1122 manufactured documents. BOFA not a servicer but a PAYEE AGENT of a direct stock investment portfolio. The state court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over IRS/SEC tax matter partner schemes -; using the homeowners SS# 1099 (a) the homeowner becomes (Creditor/partner) turned Renter (Ordinary) PASS THROUGH INVESTOR. CHIEF Judge Jack Tutor knows – many ederly targeted – RIGGED DEFSULT. Broward county judges become illegal debt collection agent. Amendment 4 and 14 illegal government seizures of homestead The right to known – Color of Law title 18 sec 242, 241. Pull all the files on LAZARUS, LEBOW, GUNDERSON then we can proceed to Federal Courts. President John F. Kennedy warned about the monolithic enterprise (secret societies). THE COVERUP is worse than the crime. Sundquist v. Bank of America – Judge Christopher Klein. The “Corporate Hose’ attacks foreclosure defence so the homeowner has no representation to protect their property up against the corporate beast. I have all the evidence you need. Find me.
Jackson Rip Holmes / July 4, 2021 10:52 am
Thank you. Good article.
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Beth Voigt / July 4, 2021 2:03 pm
Thank You for fighting for our Constitutional Rights!
You all are making a difference.
Fucked by a Lender too / July 5, 2021 11:17 am
These aren’t judges. These are bank stooges. Impeach them and disbar their crooked asses.
tom kibler / July 5, 2021 12:33 pm
Stunningly hypocritical-“the instant misconduct is beyond the pale, different not simply in degree but in kind. It is egregious misconduct which can be neither excused nor ignored.”…Should be applied to crooked or inept k judges who ignore crimes, and take offense when called out on it like petty little tyrants.
THE NMS called for an end to robo-siging/forgery-the states were to be sure courts removed forged documents from files, and redress for aggrieved homeowners was also supposed to be addressed. Instead the $25 billion got swept into general funds and fc mills and judges worked out a lucrative home theft RICO dance, ignoring forgery and perjury and fatally broken chains of title (see statute of frauds etc)……and now its claimed somebody like Bruce can impugn their integrity? Really? How? Have they not monumentally and arrogantly done so themselves already?
Find a member of the public who has dealt with the courts and has ANY confidence in them or their legitimacy. I’ll wait.
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Anthony Martinez Expert / July 5, 2021 4:01 pm
The moment the courts accepted that an agent and not the actual plaintiff, could institute unlawful foreclosure actions in the name of trusts that either never legally existed or ceased to legally exist, the deck remained stacked against the owners of real property. This second phase of unlawful foreclosures will now be at the hands of LLC’s created solely for the purpose of falsely claiming to be a servicer of a non-existing loan to recover hundreds of thousands at foreclosure sales. Who would pay $50k to make $500k at a foreclosure sale? The idea that a non-interested party can claim to be the servicer of a loan that doesn’t exist, put forced place insurance in place and pay property taxes in advice together with legal fees to make it appear to the court they have a valid claim, is the new “robbery in progress” across America. For judges to allow unlawful actions to run amuck in their courtrooms while they wear the rob is not only a smack in the face to them personally and the judiciary as a whole, it is borderline complicit, especially when it sends or allows its investigative arm (the bar association) to target defense attorneys who are obligated to put on the most zealous defense possible.
Roger Rinaldi / July 5, 2021 6:55 pm
Here in Wisconsin, the Supreme Court went out of their way to throw the Real Property laws in the garbage can. The bias of the Judiciary NATIONWIDE against homeowners in support of THEIR OWN BANK STOCK HOLDINGS HAS BEEN SHOW TO BE CANCER IN THIS COUNTRY!
Judiciary misconduct known as “abuse of discretion” resulting in THE ABUSE OF HOMEOWNER RIGHTS is more than “commonplace”, it is the MODUS OPERANDI of these kangaroo courts.
Roger Rinaldi / July 5, 2021 6:59 pm
This IS a massive racketeering operation completed WITH THE HELP of the Circuit Courts, the US Bankruptcy Courts, the US Bankruptcy Trustee’s Office, the Federal Appeals Courts, and law enforcement nationwide.
Bob / July 6, 2021 1:04 pm
To the editor: When the next election approaches, could you please print a list of articles mentioning judges/candidates in your recent articles, to remind us of who/what we are voting for? So little info is available when considering down-ballot candidates, especially judges who wrap themselves in the “canons of ethics” to avoid answering any meaningful questions.
Please someone, step up and run against Gunderson.
Ann Chin / July 7, 2021 11:36 am
Thank you for this well-researched and written report and for amplifying the issues!!! The American Property Owners Network , a new non-profit umbrella organization for efforts to make justice happen for homeowners in our courts, will certainly broadcast this article!!!!
Biscayne Bystander / July 7, 2021 1:59 pm
Holy shit, the banks foreclosed on a homeowner that never missed a payment! That sent a chill down my spine. Could happen to anyone.
No longer a homeowner / July 11, 2021 6:33 am
We made it for 12 years fighting this shit until we gave up the house my in-laws built and died in. During that time the bankers got the Florida legislature to end the Statute of Limitations for banks which allows them to refile after losing over and over. Real life Groundhog Day. How can you fight a neverending fraud supported by our government and campaign donations by banks and lawyers? The Florida Bar disbarred our lawyer too, mainly because he kept winning and pissing off judges statewide. Racketeering 101.
Michael Rae / December 6, 2021 6:57 pm
I am in Jasper County Indiana and have been fighting Bank of America N.A. and its crooked Robo signing documents since 2015. I have a crooked Judge on the take that doesn`t know the law or just likes to play stupid! Every single forged notarized document used by the fraudsters that are challenged by me doesn`t make a difference, he is so biased against me as a pro-se and so (pro Bank) he won`t even follow Federal Law. Someone previously told me by their Attorney that he is easily bought off with cases of booze! Anyway, MERIDIAN ASSET SERVICES LLC out of Miami Dade is the company they hired to create 3 different Mortgage Assignments to foreclose for a party that is shown by a Mortgage Loan Purchase Agreement to have willingly purchased unenforceable mortgage files, and it states the buyer can`t rely on any documents in the files. But yet I still lost my home through the fraud because the judge is corrupt.
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jeff dial / January 23, 2022 2:36 pm
In foreclosure with servicer Citimortgage since 2009 that they caused with you can get harp mod from 7% to 2.25% need to be 3months behind.3 attorneys,bankruptcy.Now sale date Feb 1..they saidthey lost note ;they never had it..sent to new servicer after gettng caught for fraudand more now servicer using same fraud to auction off.Attorneys did not do what they should have now courts say past statue of limitations. please help…call jeff 9545885959 anytime.
Nicole / January 27, 2022 2:45 pm
I was just in court via zoom with Judge Gundersen and everything in the article is TRUE. I’ve been battling the bank for a long time all the way to SCOTUS. What I witnessed during this hearing was a disgrace to the law. Not only by Judge Gundersen but Jade Silver esq – absolutely horrible. But the question is when is someone going to do something about this. Because they are setting up for it all over again with massive illegal foreclosures.
Ron Rothstein / April 8, 2022 9:55 pm
Judge Gundersen would never acknowledge bank fraud even when the bank has admitted that a document they filed was fraud. While the bank may call it “confession of error”
Judge Gundersen can see fraud for what it is but choose to ignore it.
in my foreclosure case CACE-17-014121 the 4th DCA has reversed Judge Gundersen order to issue title of my property to HSBC bank. After the reversal, during the following hearing
the lawyer for the borrower has advised Gundersen that her previous order was reverses by the 4th DCA.
Gundersen responded, on the record, “it was not my order that was reversed, I was not presiding this case back then” However this statement is completely false, there was no other judge in this case.
Gundersen also ignores decision from US bankruptcy court when there is an order dismissing bank claim that the property was surrendered by the borrower during a prior bankruptcy. HSBC filed a false document to that effect, Gundersen clearly noticed the order that dismissed the surrender claim, but yet allowed the bank to continue with same argument. Judge Gundersen is running for re-election in 2022. This is an opportunity to get rid of her and vote for Lauren Melissa Alperstein.
Trevor / May 27, 2022 2:27 pm
LT: FMCE 11007595 (41) , APPEAL CASE: 4D12-2599. In this divorce case, Gundersen violated family laws, (she has no family law experience) and conducted an illegal hearing, and banned me (dec 2019) from the 17th circuit, denying me my civil rights to represent myself–pro-se…and sided with Jeffrey Miller, opposing attorney, who filed a fraudulent petition in my absence, (Nov 2011), that bankrupted me financially that drove into poverty. Gundersen created an order that I cant file any more motions–and must get an attorney to do so. (I disqualified two other Judges in prior hearings for prejudice and bias). I spent 3-1/2 months in a foreign hospital (2011-april 2012) and the decree was done June 5, 2012). Due to my imminent death, being hospitalized and recuperating, they file the fraudulent petition to gain my finances. (I eventually survived from a vehicular accident over a 40 foot cliff) in Trinidad and Tobago).. I filed a JQC complaint but they said ” We decline to investigate Gundersen”. I can’t find an attorney pro-bono to take this case to overturn it.
Isabel Gascue / June 19, 2022 12:31 pm
I have a case of wrongful Foreclosure granted by this judge. I was evicted in the most terrific and traumatic way. My daughter passed out 5 times in the process.. IT HAS BEEN HORRIBLE. I should have never been in this position. Never stopped paying my house. The bank messed up my mortgage and escrow accounts. Then sold to different banks. Then lost the note. It has been 16 years of nightmares and uncertainty. At the end the bank bridged our agreement. This judge would not hear the case.
I want it to go public and to the media. Just don’t know where to start.
Ginger Downs / July 7, 2022 11:45 pm
Judge Gundersen ignores forged deeds, tainted mortgage documents, allows Nationstar Mortgage and their foreclosure mill attorneys to do and say anything they want. We’ve got to get her off the bench. Please, please go to the poles in August and vote for LAUREN ALPERSTEIN also go to YouTube and watch the Sun Sentinel interview with Gundersen and Lauren … needless to say, they endorsed Lauren.
Ginger Downs / July 8, 2022 12:07 am
Isabel, (or others that in the same boat) please contact me via email [email protected] I’m happy to try and point you in the right direction. Please know, I’m NOT an attorney, however, I am familiar with the courts.
I have spoken to the Sun Sentinel and I am going public. Floridians for honest lending has contacted me about my case, they have a direct line to the law makers that want to hear from us. We gotta get loud, call them out ban together.
Anonymous / August 12, 2022 4:12 pm
Single mother scammed by Igor Shrayev Sivokozov be on the look out for fraudulent lenders that create LLC Judge ignored me too leaving me and my two kids homeless god hold a place in his heart for us the system failed me
Anonymous / August 17, 2022 3:23 pm
How can I reach you?
Ginger Downs / November 13, 2022 10:56 am
You can email me at: [email protected].
I have finally received a response to my BSO EVICTION ORDERED BY GUNDERSEN, for copies REQUIRED for BSO to evict homeowners. They have nothing.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony MUST answer how & why this is allowed. Gov. Desantis MUST remove him.
Broward Clerk of Courts Brenda D. Forman AKA Brenda D. Jenkins, mother of Monika Jenkins AKA known as MILLION DOLLAR DREAMS AND FEDERAL NIGHTMARES, previosly CONVICTED TWICE IN BROWARD COUNTY 2016 & 2009. Monika was arrested by the US MARSHALLS in October 2022, she just amped up her game quite a bit.
The ethics committee needs to investigate why BRENDA D. FORMAN failed to mention to her daughter convicted in 2016 about 3 months PRIOR to Broward County electors put her in office. Why would she not mention she was formerly Brenda D. Jenkins, mother of two time convicted felon in Broward County.
Ginger Downs / November 13, 2022 11:04 am
One more important point, I am proudly part of BREC as a Committeewoman and Endorsed LAUREN ALPERSTEIN, who successfully beat disgraced Andrea Ruth Gundersen removing her from the Bench!
Together, our voices can continue to fight for Broward and what’s right.
Ginger Downs / November 13, 2022 11:07 am
One more important point, I am proudly part of BREC as a Committeewoman that Endorsed (among many other glowing endorsements) LAUREN ALPERSTEIN, who successfully beat disgraced Andrea Ruth Gundersen removing her from the Bench!
Together, our voices can continue to fight for Broward and what’s right.