|Fired former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid|
CLEVELAND,Ohio- Cuyahoga County current and former residents whose homes were foreclosed on between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011 by Bank of America or Ally/GMAC, Citi, Wells Fargo or J.P. Morgan Chase banks had until Fri., Jan 18 to file a claim for part of a $1.5 billion national mortgage settlement. The money is all but guaranteed, the office of the Ohio attorney general said last month. And it still might not be too late to file a claim, data show.
The settlement deadline, though previously established, comes on the heels of the public firing two weeks ago of former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald
County executive since 2011, FitzGerald, a former Lakewood, Oh. mayor and prior FBI agent who aspires to be governor, fired Reid, a former police chief in the corruption ridden city of Bedford, Oh., following claims of mortgage and foreclosure fraud by Reid himself, Chase Bank, and Bricker and Eckler and Lerner, Sampson and Rothfuss law firms, among others.
Data show that several of the 34 general division judges and magistrates of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas are involved in the widespread foreclosure corruption scheme too. They basically hear foreclosures, felony criminal cases, and civil lawsuits. And they often do as they please, the law sometimes meaning nothing to them.
As defendants the aforementioned banks are parties to the settlement and court authorized consent decree along with the states attorneys general, who are acting on behalf of 49 states that are the plaintiffs, including Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a popular Republican and former U.S. senator, is helping to oversee the settlement process for Ohio, though the consent decree is under the jurisdiction of the federal district court.
For more information on the national mortgage settlement at issue contact nationalmortgagesettelment.com or call DeWine's office. While the deadline for filing a complaint was Jan 18, that date has not been set in stone, it appears.
The consent decree settles the claims for interested consumers that qualify who want to waive litigation in exchange for $850 to $1400 of the $1.5 billion total settlement set aside for the meager compensation for their stolen homes. And affected Ohioans and others still in their homes, though foreclosed on illegally, would be kicked out if they take such money, the consent degree suggests.
Though neither side to the settlement has admitted any guilt, the alleged malfeasance includes claims that Chase and the other four banks received transferred mortgages without a notary public as required by law, denied homeowners requested loan modification programs, and charged excessive fees, among other alleged illegalities.
The consent decree denotes in relevant part that J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and the other defendants to the case are accused of violating state mortgage and foreclosure laws, federal bankruptcy laws, the False Claims Act, and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989.
The $1.5 billion settlement is part of a $25 billion larger settlement, part of which goes to the respective states that are parties to the settlement, an obvious impetus for the attorneys general that agreed to participate.
Oklahoma would not join the other 49 states, saying in part that homeowners impacted by the illegal foreclosure activities deserve more of the settlement, and that they could seek redress independently, and even fight to remain in their homes rather than agreeing to settle for little or nothing.
Data suggests that Cuyahoga County officials and some county judges such as common pleas judges John O'Donnell and Carolyn Friedland, and Chief Foreclosure Magistrate Stephen Bucha, must have seen the settlement coming where some homeowners that qualify due to alleged illegalities by at least Chase Bank were improperly ousted from their homes in cases before them. And some were literally harassed and interrogated by O'Donnell, data also show, who used former convicted sheriff Gerald McFaul and his judicial friends to jail those that fought back in court, particularly Blacks and women.
Former sheriff Reid, who served after McFaul , and who, by state law, had the authority before his recent firing to appraise foreclosed homes as the then county sheriff, would then reduce the value of the foreclosed homes that Friedland, O'Donnell and some of their judicial colleagues would hand him by up to 80 percent to sale for extreme profit to Chase Bank and other banks and mortgage companies.
Operatives of both the Cuyahoga County Republican and Democratic parties, area elected officials, and the alleged friends of the since removed sheriff were also beneficiaries of Reid's strategy to steal homes through illegal foreclosures. And the investigation further reveals that Reid's arbitrarily reduced sale prices, such as a Cleveland Hts-University Hts home appraised at $123,000 for tax purposes by the county and sold by Reid to Chase for $36,000, differ tremendously from the county appraisal of the homes.
Community activists want the affiliated statute that gives a county sheriff in Ohio sole authority to appraise foreclosed homes amended to make such appraisals based upon the last legal appraisal by the county for property tax purposes. This, say activists, might minimize the greed by which the county sheriff's office operates under its authority to appraise homes as it pleases with the sanctioning of some self serving judges.
Cuyahoga County, which is roughly 29 percent Black and includes the largely Black major metropolitan city of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs, is the largest of 88 counties statewide.
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