Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Big Banks continue to foreclose on veterans and service members

Today the Defense Dept issued the following statement:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn.

They died July 7 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked their convoy using an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to 145th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Cavalry Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Post Falls, Idaho.

Killed were:

Spc. Nathan R. Beyers, 24, of Littleton, Colo. and

Spc. Nicholas W. Newby, 20, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

For more information, the media may contact the Idaho National Guard public affairs office at 208-407-8838.

Rob Kauder (KXLY) adds, "A third soldier, Staff Sergeant Jason Rzepa, sustained serious leg injuries in the IED strike. He has been stabilized and transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for further treatment."

In other news Bob Van Voris (Bloomberg News) reports Sgt Jorge Rodriguez has filed suit against Citigroup Inc due to the fact that while he doing pre-deployment training in 2006, CitiMortgage attempted to steal his home by filing false paperwork insisting "Rodriguez wasn't on active service at the time, depriving him of protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act". Reuters adds, "Rodriguez said his property was sold at foreclosure for about $137,900, or $13,400 more than his original mortgage. He said he received no proceeds from the sale. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of U.S. armed forces members whose homes were foreclosed upon improperly by CitiMortgage from Dec. 19, 2003 to the present." Bob Van Voris also notes, "Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Morgan Stanley agreed in May to pay $22.4 million to resolve U.S. allegations that they improperly foreclosed on active-duty soldiers. JPMorgan Chase & Co. earlier agreed to a $56 million settlement of claims that it illegally overcharged military personnel on home loans." JPMorgan, of course, didn't just 'agree' to pay large settlement. They were first called to the carpet by the House Veterans Affairs Committee in the US Congress. That was February 9th of this year and we'll note this key moment from the hearing between US House Rep Bob Filner and JPMorgan Chase's Stephanie Mudick.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Uhm, how many executive vice presidents are there at Chase? Or, let me put it another way, how high are you up in the heirarchy there?

Stephanie Mudick: Uh, I am a member of Chase's Executive Committee which is fewer than a hundred employees at Chase -- at JPMorgan Chase.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: And what does the 100 people do? I mean, that's the highest policy making thing in Chase?

Stephanie Mudick: Uh, there is an Operating Committee which is a group of approximately 20 people.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: How many executive vice presidents are there?

Stephanie Mudick: I don't have the answer to that question, sir, I'm sorry.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: But you'll find out for me, right?

Stephanie Mudick: I will indeed.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Could you fix things if we need to ask? I mean, you're here on behalf of Chase so I assume that means you can fix things. Can you fix things? I mean, you said you weren't aware of that hotline number [a JPMorgan Chase number to deal with SCRA problems which Julia Rowles testified was just an answering machine passed off as a hotline and one that has now been disconnected for months]. Can you find it out right away? Can you call someone and say, "What's going on there?"

Stephanie Mudick: Uh, together with-with my colleagues -- There is -- I would say --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Okay, so you can't fix things.

Stephanie Mudick (Con't): -- there are many -- Excuse me, sir. I would say that we try and fix whatever --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Okay, the Rowles testified that they didn't have any statements for a year, you hadn't cashed their last mortgage check. Can you fix that today?

Stephanie Mudick: Uh --

Raking Member Bob Filner: You said you were going to make them whole. They've brought up several questions. Can you fix that?

Stephanie Mudick: We are trying to fix --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: I don't want a "we." You? Can you fix that?

Stephanie Mudick: I can, together with my colleagues causes changes to be made in our organization. Uh -- and with respect to the Rowleses -- Uh, uhm, you know,,we are trying to figure out how we can come to an agreement --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Come to an agreement because of a lawsuit. But you said you were going to make them whole. As I read your statement, your average payment to make people whole was seventy dollars. Does that make people whole who've gone through this stuff?

Stephanie Mudick: The-the median payment is $70 and-and let me explain to you how-how we get to that number.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Because you're just dealing with the amount of interest you overpaid plus some fees, that's all you're dealing with. You're not dealing with any human costs or any emotional costs or any pain and suffering as they would say. You're just dealing with the amount of interest and fees that you overcharged. Right? I mean that's what it says here [holds up Mudick's prepared statement] anyway.

Stephanie Mudick: Congressman, most of the, uh, service members who were impacted by this, uh, are-are not even aware that they overpaid. And in part that's because the amount they overpaid was not-not material to them.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: I can't believe that there's nobody else going through what the Rowles did. But, you know, I mean, you can't make the changes, you're not making them whole. Why should -- You broke the law. Your bank broke the law. Shouldn't someone go to jail for that?
Stephanie Mudick: Uh --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: And who should? Who should? Who's responsible? Are you as the executive v.p. who was given us by the bank to answer for this? Should you go to jail?

Stephanie Mudick: Uh, we are doing a review internally in order to --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: I want to know --

Stephanie Mudick: -- figure out --

Ranking Member Bob Filner: -- who's responsible?

Stephanie Mudick: -- who's responsible for what happened.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: Are you going to tell us who? Are you going to give us a person? Or people? That are responsible?

Stephanie Mudick: Well we will certainly hold those folks who are resposible for this accountable.

Ranking Member Bob Filner: I want to know about you. You broke the law. How are we going to hold you accountable? Are we going to know who did what when?

You can refer to the following community coverage of that hearing:

"Iraq snapshot"
"The crooks get away with it (Ava)"
"JP Morgan Chase's song and dance"
"Grading the new Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee"
"The Lawbreaking JPMorgan Chase"

The following community sites -- plus, Jane Fonda and the White House -- updated yesterday and today:

We'll close with this from PJ Crowley's "Changing the way oil drives US policy" (Guardian):

Twenty years after we went to war over oil and ten years after 9/11, America has still not connected the dots. This is not about the intelligence community, but American politics, policy and behaviour. We still don't see the interconnections of daily realities, like the car we drive, what that means for the price of gasoline and how that affects our national security.

When prices surged north of $4 per gallon this spring, the political response was to search for someone or something to blame. Members of Congress targeted oil speculators, while the Obama administration focused on the turmoil in Libya. The administration also floated a proposal to double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks to 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025.

Interestingly, having aggressively fought such proposals in the past, Detroit's reaction this time was constructive. We can build more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, automakers made clear, but questioned whether consumers would buy them.

The answer is, we should. It's connected to our national security. Say what?

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oh boy it never ends