Has Your Mortgage Company Lied to You, Your Attorney and the Bankruptcy Court?

16 Dec Has Your Mortgage Company Lied to You, Your Attorney and the Bankruptcy Court?

While listening to closing arguments this week in a case pending before Houston Bankruptcy Judge Jeff Bohm, I was amazed to hear that attorneys for Countrywide allegedly had filed false documents with the Court claiming they charged $350.00 for their services when, in reality, they had charged $450.00!

In this particular case, after the Debtor (Parsley) filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Countrywide retained McCalla Raymer to prepare among other things a Proof of Claim (POC) and Notice of Appearance in the case. McCalla Raymer, or an agent of McCalla Raymer, prepared the POC stating the amount for post-petition, pre-confirmation legal services was $350.00. Yet, simultaneously, McCalla Raymer invoiced Countrywide $450.00 for that identical service. Countrywide then added $450.00 to the debtor’s account balance. Therefore, anyone reading the POC would believe the amount that Countrywide was charging the Debtor was $350.00 – not the $450.00 Countrywide was actually charging the Debtor.

This, in and of itself is amazing to me, but what is even more amazing is what Countrywide representatives testified to in their depositions. According to the brief filed by the United States Trustee’s office, “McCall Raymer witnesses testified that they intentionally inserted a $350.00 post-petition fee in the POC while invoicing $450.00 to the client. In explaining why they didn’t accurately reflect a $450.00 in the POC, Gina Thomas (“Thomas”), McCalla Raymer’s corporate representative testified that ‘$350.00 is generally viewed as a reasonable fee for post-petition services…, even though such amount is ‘less than the fee we charge to Countrywide.’ Another McCalla Raymer attorney, John Schlotter (“Schlotter”), explained that when $450 was included in other proofs of claim, objections were drawn ‘based on that amount being too much.'”

I understand mistakes can happen, but for someone to intentionally file false documents with the court is very disheartening.

Judge Bohm has not yet made a ruling in this matter. When he does I will report back to let you know if he finds the above allegations to be true or false.

(If you want to follow the case, the case number is 05-90374-JB-13 pending in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.)

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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