South Florida Credit Scores Drop in September


Credit rating agency Experian released Wednesday its second-annual “State of Credit” list of cities with the highest and lowest credit scores.

The study found that the cities with the worst average credit score were concentrated in the South, while those with the highest average score were centered in the upper Midwest.

According to CreditKarma.com, the credit scores of consumers in the Miami metropolitan statistical area dropped in September as they continued racking up significant personal debt.

The average credit score in the Miami area was 649 in September, down from a previous low of 652 in August. The trend was the same statewide, although other Floridians seemed to maintain better credit scores. The average Florida credit score was 654 in September, down from 657 in August.

The Sunshine State ranked 35th for credit score averages nationwide. California residents had the best average credit score, at 682, while those in Mississippi ranked at the bottom, at 626.

CreditKarma found that consumers in South Florida piled on debt in three significant categories.  In September, they had an average mortgage debt of $199,701, student loan obligations of $32,254, and credit card balances of $5,548.  This is an increase of 4 percent, 2.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, from the previous month.

The study also found that consumers in the Miami area ranked higher in mortgage and student loan debt, but had less credit card debt than others across the country.

Obtaining credit reports and correcting credit reporting errors is something for every consumer to seriously consider.  This is especially so in tough economic times.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as modified by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report under a narrow set of circumstances. 

If you are denied credit, goods, benefits, services, insurance, and/or employment, the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are statutorily mandated to provide a copy free of charge.  Absent these exceptions, consumers are entitled to one free “annual credit report” per year. 

Equifax can be contacted at (800) 685-1111 or www.Equifax.com; Experian can be contacted at (888) 397-3742 or www.Experian.com; and Trans Union can be contacted at (800) 916-8800 or www.TransUnion.com

For your free annual credit report, contact the central source at 877-FACT-ACT (877-322-8228) or www.AnnualCreditReport.com.  Follow the voice prompts and obtain your credit report for review.

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Kohl’s Job Fair – Coral Springs and Miami


Kohl’s Department Stores is seeking to hire 260 new employees for locations opening in Miami and Coral Springs.

Positions available include: register operators, department associates, customer service, early morning freight un-loaders and evening ad set associates. 

Daily job fairs will be held from August 7th through the 11th at the Hilton Garden Inn Miami Airport West Hotel located at 3550 NW 74th Avenue, Miami; and at the Courtyard by Marriott, located at 620 N. University Drive, Coral Springs.

Job fair hours:  August 7th and 8th from 10:45 a.m. until 6:15 p.m.; August 9th from 12:15 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.; and August 10th and 11th from 8:45 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Potential applicants should visit http://www.kohlscareers.com or call (877) 639-5645 to more obtain information and schedule an interview. 

Kohl’s employees receive benefits, employee stock ownership plan and merchandise discounts.

Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.

Foreclosure Fraud Case Settled at the Florida Supreme Court


In a matter of “great public importance” that has gone largely ignored this week, the high-profile foreclosure fraud case of Roman Pino versus The Bank of New York has been settled.  According to the Florida Supreme Court, the matter was dismissed upon Pino’s “Notice –Dismiss (Voluntary Stipulation)” on July 25th.

The opportunity for a precedent setting opinion for attorney Thomas Ice, of Ice Legal, whose boutique litigation firm specializes in uncovering forged and fraudulent foreclosure documents, must mean outright success for Pino. 

Although details of the settlement were not provided in the brief stipulation before the high court, one can only speculate whether Pino received a mortgage modification, principal reduction, right to short-sale, waiver of deficiency balance, or his home free and clear. 

One thing is clear, though.  Any settlement agreement between the parties would contain a confidentiality agreement.

Neither Ice, nor Enrique Nieves – Pino’s attorney of record – were available for comment despite several messages left at Ice Legal and on their cell phone voicemail.

An appeals court in February requested that the Florida Supreme Court consider the case of Greenacres homeowner Roman Pino as a matter of “great public importance.” The decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach was unusual as neither the bank nor the homeowner had requested such a review.

“We conclude that this is a question of great public importance, as many, many mortgage foreclosures appear tainted with suspect documents,” the appeals court wrote in certification to the Supreme Court.

Had the matter been adjudicated on its merits and a decision rendered in favor of Pino, thousands of foreclosure cases could have been impacted as allegations of document fraud and robo-signing run rampant throughout the nation.

According to land records, Pino purchased his Greenacres home in July, 2006 for $203,000 by securing a $162,400 mortgage with Silver State Financial Systems. After falling behind on the mortgage, the Bank of New York moved to foreclose in October, 2008.

In their foreclosure complaint, the Bank of New York alleged that it was the owner of Pino’s mortgage note through an assignment from another lender, but did not include said assignment as part of its original complaint.

Pino retained Ice, who in moving to dismiss the complaint, argued that the bank needed an assignment in order to have standing to foreclose.

Attorneys from the Law Offices of David J. Stern in Plantation filed an amended complaint and attached an unrecorded mortgage assignment “which happened to be dated just before the original pleading was filed,” the appeals court wrote.

Stern’s now defunct law firm is one of several foreclosure mills throughout Florida that are under investigation by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Just as Pino’s attorneys were set to take depositions of Stern employees to determine how the assignment was created, the Bank of New York dismissed its foreclosure action.  Ice had wanted an opportunity to prove that Pino was the victim of fraud but was unable to do so because of the voluntary dismissal. The bank refiled the foreclosure in August 2009, and that case is pending.

In its written opinion, the Fourth District Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court’s ruling about the dismissal but because of its importance on similar foreclosure matters, sent the case to the state’s highest court in Tallahassee. One appellate judge, Gary Farmer, dissented saying he thought the trial judge could have kept the case open to litigate Pino’s claim of fraud.

“I’m not surprised at a settlement of this matter considering the allegations of forged or fraudulent documents and the risk of substantial loss to the bank,” said Carlos J. Reyes, of the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale.  “As a foreclosure defense attorney, my preference would have been for a written opinion from the Florida Supreme Court, but the client is the ultimate decision maker in any settlement discussions.”

Paint It Broward – Free Paint for Residents


In tough economic times, homeowners cannot afford to pass up free paint and a potential savings of several hundred dollars.  Between record foreclosures, high unemployment, and rising food and gas prices, the “Paint it Broward” program has hit all-time records in paint distribution county-wide. 

“Paint it Broward” is an initiative of Broward County’s Waste and Recycling Services allowing residents throughout the county to receive up to twenty gallons of high-quality recycled latex exterior paint yearly for residential projects.

Latex paint collected through the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Program is transported to a paint manufacturer where it is recycled into high-quality exterior latex paint.  It is then distributed through the “Paint it Broward” program and numerous municipalities throughout Broward County.

Broward County recycles and distributes an average of 70,000 gallons of latex paint per year in an effort to improve neighborhoods and benefit the citizens of Broward County.

In fiscal year 2010, a record 77,675 gallons of paint were distributed through the “Paint it Broward” program, up 25% from the previous record in fiscal year 2009 of 61,819 gallons. 

“Since the Paint it Broward program began in 2003, a total of 643,066 gallons of paint have been distributed,” said D.J. McPherson, Public Education Coordinator.

Paint colors include beige, terra-cotta, grey and turquoise.  Due to variations in paint hues, residents are encouraged to take sufficient quantities to suit their needs, with a twenty gallon maximum.

The distribution of recycled paint is accomplished through a cooperative program where Broward County distributes the paint to participating municipalities, which in turn dispense it to their residents.

To receive free paint through “Paint it Broward”, contact your city at the phone number listed below and ask for the paint recycling program coordinator. If your city is not listed, then it is not a Broward County paint recycling program participant.  You can obtain paint directly through the county.

Recycled latex paint is for non-profit or residential use only. This product is not available for commercial entities, or for re-sale.

“Faced with tough challenges in a faltering economy, Broward residents may not place a priority on house painting,” said County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.  “Paint it Broward allows you to spruce up your home while saving several hundred dollars on the cost of paint.”

The following municipalities participate in the “Paint it Broward” program.

Coconut Creek: 954-973-6780

Coral Springs: 954-344-1040

Dania Beach: 954-357-8850

Davie: 954-797-1045

Fort Lauderdale: 954-828-5770

Hollywood: 954-921-3061

Lauderdale Lakes: 954-535-2815

Lauderhill: 954-730-3060

Lighthouse Point: 954-946-7386

Margate: 954-972-0828

Miramar: 954-602-3174

North Lauderdale: 954-724-7070

Oakland Park: 954-630-4414

Pembroke Park: 954-966-4600, ext. 1215

Pembroke Pines: 954-437-1111

Plantation: 954-452-2535

Pompano Beach: 954-786-4030

Sunrise: 954-572-2385

Tamarac: 954-597-3700

Unincorporated Broward: 954-765-4999

West Park: 954-989-2688

Wilton Manors: 954-390-2190

For more information on the “Paint it Broward” program or to obtain free paint directly through Broward County, please call (954) 357-8850 and enter option 3.

Rolladen Targeted by Attorney General for Deceptive Practices


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed suit in the Broward County Circuit Court against Hallandale based hurricane shutter company Rolladen, Inc. and its owner, Robert Hoffman, alleging deceptive and unfair trade practices. 

Rolladen and Hoffman have marketed and sold hurricane shutters and impact windows to Florida consumers for years.  According to the suit, the company allegedly required substantial upfront deposits for shutters or windows and then failed to install them.

According to the Attorney General’s Office investigation that started in March, Rolladen is alleged to have received more than $600,000 in consumer deposits for hurricane shutters or impact windows that it failed to deliver.

“As Floridians safeguard their homes against hurricanes, they deserve the assurance of knowing that they are doing business with fair and honest companies,” said Pam Bondi, Florida’s Attorney General.  “My office will continue to investigate deceptive business practices and protect all of Florida’s consumers.”

According to the suit, Rolladen required customers to make an upfront payment of between 40 percent and 80 percent of the contracted price for hurricane shutters.  The company then promised delivery and installation within six to 12 weeks of the contract date.  In many instances, Rolladen failed to deliver.

Bondi’s lawsuit seeks an order prohibiting Rolladen from the marketing or sale of shutters and windows until installations can be completed in accordance with Florida contractor requirements.

The lawsuit also seeks an immediate freeze of all company assets to maximize refunds for consumers.

In addition to the lawsuit, Hoffman was arrested by the Broward Sheriff’s Office last week on charges of running an organized scheme to defraud and for unlicensed contracting.

In what has been forecast as a busy hurricane season, be sure to conduct your “due diligence” before hiring a hurricane shutter contractor.

  • Confirm the contractor has a current state contractor’s license. Go to http://www.myfloridalicense.com to verify a license.
  • Ask who will be doing the actual installation and confirm that the installer is also licensed.
  • Ask for and check references, and investigate the contractor with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org).
  • Know what kind of protection you are purchasing. Some counties may have specific standards for storm shutters, so be sure to inquire in advance whether your shutters meet the applicable standards and retain copies of the specifications for insurance purposes.
  • Know that “hurricane film” is not approved for residential use in Florida.
  • Florida requires a building permit for installation of shutters and most windows and doors. Be sure your contractor is obtaining a permit for the installation.
  • Make certain that all materials and supplies, permit fees, and installation costs are included in the price quoted in the written contract.
  • Ask for a specific installation deadline and request the contractor to include the deadline in the contract.
  • Beware if the contractor asks for payment in full before the work is completed.
  • Contractors often require a deposit, but if you pay more than 10 percent of the contract price, the contractor must apply for a permit within 30 days and start work within 90 days of the issuance of the required permit(s).

If you are the victim of Rolladen, Inc. or any other contractor, please contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office at 1-8669-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or online at http://www.myfloridalegal.com.

A Once Firm Weiner Pulls Out and Resigns


Arriving late for his 2pm press conference, a once firm – yet defiant – Representative Anthony Weiner, (D – N.Y.) has resigned from Congress.  Although almost the entire Congressional leadership had called upon him to step down, it was not clear what convinced Weiner to make the final move.

Weiner’s decision to resign followed revelations that he exchanged sexually explicit messages and photographs of himself with women he met through online social networks.  The embattled New York congressman admitted sending a lewd photograph of his underwear-clad crotch to a young woman over Twitter, and then repeatedly lied about it.   

Weiner refused to resign after Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) called for a House ethics investigation.

Weiner refused to resign even after Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D – FL) stated that “this sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House – and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important: his and his family’s well-being.”

Weiner refused to resign after President Barack Obama stated to NBC’s Ann Curry that Weiner had “embarrassed himself” and that “if it was me, I would resign.”

Weiner refused to resign after former porn star Ginger Lee said she has been in touch with Weiner and followed him on Twitter.  Although Lee said he did not send her any lewd photographs, she claimed Weiner did try to steer the conversations between them in a sexual direction.  Lee said she did not respond to his efforts.  

Lee also said Weiner had asked her to lie about their correspondence, and said in a press conference that he should resign “for lying to the public for a week.”

Weiner remained defiant in his refusal to resign even after new photographs popped up on the Internet and in the National Enquirer showing Weiner dressed in a bra and pantyhose during his college years.

The straw that broke the camel’s back might have been the return of his pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, from a week-long trip to Africa with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Weiner, 46, has been at an undisclosed treatment facility since last weekend and has not been seen in public since telling reporters on Saturday that he intended to return to work following a short leave of absence.   

Supporters were against Weiner resigning decrying that the now-former congressman did nothing to warrant leaving office.   Unlike former President Bill Clinton, he did not cheat on his wife and his private life was his personal business, they said.  

But another New York congressman, Republican Christopher Lee, was forced to resign for much less, namely sending a shirtless photo of himself over Craigslist to a woman.

“Weiner resigning from Congress is not only a good thing for him and his family, but his constituents,” stated Richard DeNapoli, Chairman of the Broward Republican Party in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and home of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Before getting married last July to Huma Abedin, a Hillary Rodham Clinton aide, Weiner, had been one of New York City’s most eligible bachelors.  In a strange twist, former President Bill Clinton officiated over the Weiner nuptials. 

Weiner began his career as a legislative assistant to then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, who is now New York’s senior senator. He was elected to the New York City Council before winning Schumer’s House seat in 1998, representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens.  Ironically, Weiner’s seat is predominantly Republican.

Weiner had initially gained a national profile during the debate over President Barack Obama’s health care plan when he outspokenly professed support for a government-run program which would cover all Americans and later a “public option” to compete with private health insurance.

Weiner had once hoped to be Mayor of New York City.

A special election will now be held to replace former Representative Anthony Weiner.  No word on his mayoral hopes.

RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day to Attend Broward Republican Party BBQ


The Republican Party of Broward County and Chairman Richard DeNapoli are presenting the Grand Old Party BBQ this Saturday, June 11th, 2011 at the Green Glades Ranch in Weston. 

Making an appearance at the inaugural GOP barbecue is special guest Sharon Day, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee.

The “Country Afternoon” will feature Congressman Allen West (FL-22), Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida House Representatives Matt Hudson, George Moraitis, and Jeanette Nunez, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, and Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

Returning to the Grand Old Party BBQ from his appearance as Emcee at the Republican Party of Broward County – 2011 Lincoln Day Dinner is Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell.

In the race for the Republican nomination to unseat Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the United States Senate are Florida’s 34th United States Senator, George Lemieux, State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and Former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.  They are all confirmed in their appearance at the Grand Old Party BBQ.

The Broward Republican Party is expecting a record crowd.  “It is my honor to chair the Grand Old Party BBQ,” says Sally Musser. “We have an amazing venue in the Bergeron Ranch, great speakers and a program that will honor and thank our elected officials.”

Prior to the BBQ, Chairman Richard DeNapoli is hosting a VIP event that will include elected officials and candidates for public office.

“In addition to our featured speakers, the Broward Republican Party is proud to have RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day,” says DeNapoli. “Appearing as a special guest, you’ll not only have an opportunity to speak with chairwoman Day, but candidates who have filed to run for the U.S. House and Senate, the Florida House and Senate, and local offices here in Broward County.”

This RSVP only event will be held at the scenic Bergeron Ranch, located on the fringes of the Florida Everglades, on US 27 just one mile south of 595 or one mile north of Griffin Road.  The ranch will open for VIP admission at noon with general admission at 1pm.  RSVP’s for the Grand Old Party BBQ will close on Friday, June 10th at 6pm.

Tickets for the VIP event (with photo opportunity) are $100.00 while general admission tickets are available at $35.00. Children 5-17 are $10.00 while those under 5 are free.  Admission is inclusive of all fun, food and festivities. 

“I hope that you can join us for the barbeque this Saturday,” says former Plantation Councilman and BREC Executive Director Rico Petrocelli. “Come rain or shine, we are going to have a great time.”

For more information, call Executive Director Rico Petrocelli at (954) 941-7775 or go to http://www.browardgop.org.

Allen West Headlines Grand Old Party BBQ


Following a successful Lincoln Day dinner that raised over $90,000, the Broward Republican Executive Committee has planned a “Grand Old Party BBQ” on Saturday June 11th, 2011 at the famed Bergeron Ranch in western Broward County.

The “Country Afternoon” will feature visits by Congressman Allen West (FL-22), Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, Florida House Representatives Matt Hudson, George Moraitis, and Jeanette Nunez, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, and Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

Returning to the Grand Old Party BBQ from his appearance as Emcee at the Republican Party of Broward County – 2011 Lincoln Day Dinner is Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell.

Prior to the barbeque, BREC Chairman Richard DeNapoli will host a VIP event that will include elected officials and candidates for public office. “The reception offers an opportunity to chat one-on-one with our elected officials,” says DeNapoli. “You’ll also have an opportunity to talk with some of the candidates who have filed to run for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, the Florida House and Senate, as well as Broward County offices.”

The RSVP only event will be held at the scenic Bergeron Ranch, located at 21111 SW 16th Street, Weston, Florida 33322.  The ranch will open for VIP admission at noon with general admission at 1pm.

The Broward Republican Executive Committee is expecting a record crowd for its inaugural Grand Old Party BBQ.  “It is my honor to chair the Grand Old Party BBQ,” says Sally Musser. “We have an amazing venue in the Bergeron Ranch, great speakers and a program that will honor and thank our elected officials.”

Tickets for the VIP event (with photo opportunity) are $100.00 while general admission tickets are available at $35.00 each. Children 5-17 are $10.00 while those under 5 are free.  Admission includes the picnic, food (hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.), games, fun, and prizes.

Numerous sponsorship opportunities are still available.

“I hope that you can join us on Saturday, June 11, 2011 because you won’t want to miss this event,” says former Plantation Councilman and BREC Executive Director Rico Petrocelli.

Website: http://www.donationpages.com/donationpages/ecard.asp?guidEvent=5E5C5F5F

For more information, call Executive Director Rico Petrocelli at (954) 941-7775 or go to http://www.browardgop.org.

_________________________________________

The Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC) is the governing body of the Republican Party of Broward County.  Because counties are divided into precincts for purposes of elections and voting, the BREC membership is made up of one man and woman from each precinct, otherwise known as Precinct Committeeman and Precinct Committeewoman.

The idea of a Precinct Committee member is that a person living within a precinct knows his/her neighbors, the issues that affect that community and is familiar with the area.  In essence, the precinct committee member becomes the liaison between the county party and the voters in that precinct. 

The goal of a committee member is to be able to effectively mobilize Republican voters in that precinct, get out the vote, disseminate the Republican message, implement the strategy there, make sure neighbors and friends are registered, and in turn, be your community’s voice in the Republican Executive Committee.

Foreclosure Defense: Dead Man Served with Foreclosure Papers


 

Foreclosure defense attorneys have long alleged that process servers occasionally file false affidavits in support of personal service in foreclosure matters.  Some homeowners are defending themselves stating that mortgage lenders did not serve them properly.

Contrary to the sworn affidavit of process server Robin Lucas-Peters on one local foreclosure case, the homeowner was not served at all.  Having died on August 4, 2010 “personal service” upon him on April 21, 2011 was simply not possible. 

“It’s equivalent to perjury,” said Andrew Dinnerstein, the Sunrise attorney representing the family of the deceased.  “The system is being abused to such an extent that people aren’t even being served properly.”

The homeowner has not been identified to protect the family’s privacy.

Foreclosure defense attorneys have documented a number of cases where process servers allegedly filed false affidavits.  While investigating the law firms that employed “robo-signers,” state investigators are closely examining the service of process in a number of cases.

The process server in this case said she attempted to serve the homeowner on five separate occasions.   On the fifth attempt, the person answering the door said he was the homeowner being sought and accepted the foreclosure papers.

Several recent foreclosure cases allege homeowners never received foreclosure papers even though they still occupied their home.  Others allege that process servers did not take the required steps to locate them or filed false affidavits about whom or when they delivered papers.   

This is the first reported case of a deceased homeowner being served with foreclosure papers.

Lucas-Peters filed a falsified document, swearing foreclosure papers were properly served when they were not, Dinnerstein said.

When a homeowner is deceased, the mortgage lender must request that the court assign an administrator and then serve foreclosure papers upon them.

Dinnerstein indicates that he will seek sanctions against the lender and ProVest, which is under investigation by the Florida Attorney General for allegations of false returns of service under oath and forged signatures of process servers.

In a number of unrelated foreclosure defense matters, some process servers allegedly violated rules related to the personal delivery of legal papers.  Like robo-signing foreclosure documents without reviewing them for accuracy, a number of homeowners are now alleging they were never served with foreclosure papers.

Once rare, “bad service” of process has become more common as lenders and their attorneys speed thousands of foreclosure cases through “rocket dockets” that are designed to clear an ever growing backlog.

“With the foreclosure debacle, it’s become more complicated,” says Carlos J. Reyes, a foreclosure defense attorney with the Reyes Law Group in Fort Lauderdale. “For the sake of expediency, process servers are being rushed. As they are paid by the piece, they have an interest in earning a higher income.”

Homeowners involved in foreclosures are required to receive a summons and complaint personally delivered by a process server. Repeated attempts at personal service are required before court permission can be obtained to publish a legal notice in the alternative.

In the case of a deceased homeowner, foreclosure papers are served upon an administrator. 

Some process servers have allegedly cut corners.  One recently claimed she could not find a homeowner facing foreclosure on a second home, despite conducting extensive record checks. This held true even though the foreclosure complaint clearly provided a primary home address in Connecticut.

Lenders and attorneys typically contract their summons delivery work to large process serving firms, who sub-contract to private independent servers. In her deposition to state investigators, former Stern paralegal Tammie Lou Kapusta, testified that summons serving procedures were a “complete mess,” with homeowners routinely complaining they never received papers.

She and another former employee, Kelly Scott, said their managers told them move forward with the foreclosures anyway.

Investigators also questioned staff at Stern’s firm regarding billing practices that involved serving multiple parties at an address and billing for each one.

“Good service of process is crucial”, Reyes said. He has heard of homeowners losing their home because they never received a summons and missed filing dates or court hearings.

While a court summons must be accepted by an adult, state law does not require it to be served upon the property owner. No one has to sign, verifying receipt, “which makes it easier to say the person was served, when they weren’t,” Reyes said.

Laws governing the service of process vary from state to state. In Florida, there is no statewide licensing or regulating body for process servers, and rules vary greatly among the 20 judicial circuits.

While ProVest declined to comment on specific cases, company president James Ward stated they “utilize properly licensed or authorized independent contractors” and require them to “fully comply with state and local guidelines.”

“ProVest is confident the vast majority of notifications are being conducted appropriately and where there are anomalies of inadequate service we strive to learn from those situations,” Ward said.

To learn more about the foreclosure crisis or to file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General, visit their website at http://www.myfloridalegal.com or call (866) 9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226).

Broward Chief Judge Vic Tobin Quits – Joins Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson


In a move that is sure to stun the legal community, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Victor Tobin  has notified Governor Rick Scott of his intent to resign as a Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit effective June 30, 2011.

In an after-hours e-mail sent to all judges, judicial assistants, and the court administrator, Judge Tobin stated:

Late this afternoon, I notified Governor Scott that I would be resigning as a Circuit Court Judge effective June 30, 2011. Effective July 1,2011, I will return to private practice with the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson. I wish to express my sincere thanks to each judge for permitting me the honor of being your Chief Judge during the last four years. I appreciate the confidence you placed in me.

Vic Tobin

On March 25th, Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a settlement against attorney Marshall C. Watson and his law firm for alleged improprieties in the prosecution of foreclosure cases throughout Florida. The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson is one of the largest foreclosure firms in Florida.

The settlement is a first of its kind and stems from an investigation into the alleged deceptive practices of Florida foreclosure mills. It calls for a $2 million payment and imposition of certain requirements to conduct business. $1 million of that payment will be contributed to the Florida Bar Foundation to continue the Florida Attorney General Mortgage Foreclosure Grant Program.

The Foreclosure Grant Program provides for the funding of Legal Aid attorney positions throughout the state that are specifically devoted to the representation of low-income Floridians facing foreclosure.

“We are aggressively investigating these law firms in order to protect the interests of everyone involved in foreclosure proceedings. Homeowners, lending institutions and the courts deserve to know that the law is being followed and all documentation is true and accurate,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Anything short of total assurance of complete accuracy during such serious situations is unacceptable.”

Florida has led the nation with an investigation into law firms allegedly engaged in the improper production and filing of foreclosure documents. The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson fully cooperated with the investigation with the Florida Attorney General.

Although a settlement is being negotiated with other alleged foreclosure mills, the investigation into the practices of several other Florida law firms is continuing.

Hiring Judge Vic Tobin seems to be another move in the right direction.