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Steven J. Baum PC Firm Agrees to Pay Fine
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An Amherst law firm, Steven J. Baum PC, has agreed to pay a $2 million fine change its practices in a settlement with the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York that will implicate things across the state. Baum is the state’s largest foreclosure law firm, which was accused of filing misleading affidavits, mortgage assignments, and other important documents in state and federal courts. Just because the settlement occurred it does not mean that the firm has been found guilty of any unlawful practice or wrongdoing. Despite this, the firm is admitting mistakes it has made in its role of the state’s foreclosure problems and surge in home seizures across New York.

The firm has acknowledged, through a Government release, the following information:

  
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“It (Steven J. Baum PC) occasionally made inadvertent errors in its legal filings in state and federal court, which it attributes to human error in light of the high volume of mortgage defaults and foreclosures throughout the state of New York in the wake of the national subprime mortgage crisis.”

The company was started 40 years ago by Steven Baum’s father, deals with 40 percent of all the state’s foreclosure cases each year, from 220 Northpointe Parkway in Amherst. In a statement released by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara had the following to say:

“In mortgage foreclosure proceedings, there are no excuses for sloppy practices that could lead to someone mistakenly losing their home.”

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One of the practices that the firm will have to change since the settlement has been reached deals with the firm’s use of the MERS system. MERS is short for the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, which is an electronic registering system for mortgages which tracks ownership of loans. The firm promises in the settlement that its employees will no longer act as officers or directors of MERS when assigning loans.

The firm has also agreed to the following:



“Review original notes for “proper legal standing” and must also obtain “appropriate affidavits” from its clients attesting to the fact that they possess original notes or have conducted a diligent search and the original note could not be found.”

Any court pleadings that the firm deals with must now be read and prepared under the supervision of experienced attorneys. A 12 to 24 month training program must also be instituted by the firm for lawyers. Compliance with the settlement must be documented by the firm and report when objections to the firm’s accuracy of its court filings occur.

Baum released the following statement regarding the settlement:

“We are to resolve complex procedural issues that are common to all New York law firms in foreclosures. We have agreed to changes in our foreclosure practice that go over and above what current law requires,” he said. “We will continue to adhere to the highest ethical standards and represent our clients with great professionalism and dedication.”



 

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