Tuesday, May 21, 2013
BLACKSTAR NEWS SERIES "JUNK JUSTICE" RE: THE MORTGAGE FRAUD UNDERLYING THE SUNNY SHEU CASE
Alleges: "Junk Justice" in Queens Mortgage Fraud Case: Blackstar News
The man has been fighting a foreclosure for nearly 10 years.
When Sheu stepped out, he found an agent from Tower Insurance who told him that he was there to inspect the house for its new owner. "I almost choked on my soup," Sheu recalled in an interview with The Black Star News.
Sheu says he had never sold his house.
Earlier, he had worked with
Manhattan-based mortgage brokers to refinance the house, which was under the name of his brother, Ming-Chien Hsu. It turns out that the mortgage broker, Yek-Yun Chiu (a.k.a. Roman Chiu) and other accomplices, had forged his brother Hsu's signature on a power of attorney and applied for a mortgage loan with Centex Home Equity.
The forged power of attorney was signed and dated February 11, 2000; Sheu's brother, Hsu, was later able to prove that he was actually in Taiwan on that date and could not have signed the document.
Sheu immediately reported the fraud to the police and obtained a complaint report #7167, on June 19, 2000, from the 109 Precinct, in Queens. Sheu also reported the matter to the Queens County District Attorney's Office and to the Manhattan D.A., since the fraudsters worked in Manhattan.
On June 19, 2000, Sheu faxed a copy of the police complaint he had filed, to Ed Folland, a Centex official, and B. Osterman, Director of Collection at Centex, alerting them to the fraud. Sheu also spoke with both officials by phone. "Folland said he would investigate," Sheu said.
Sheu also faxed a copy of the police complaint on the same date to Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, which provided title insurance for the May 23, 2000 closing. He also reported the fraudulent mortgage loan to Midwest Finance, which was the agent for Chase Bank of Texas, the original mortgage lender to his brother, Hsu.
Sheu said he warned Centex to recover its money, since the mortgage had been fraudulently obtained. He said he was confident things would soon be resolved since Old Republic issued him a claim #43391 after he had written a letter to the New York Department of Insurance, complaining about the fraudulent conveyance.
The letter from Old Republic with the claim number, reviewed by The Black Star News, is dated October 5, 2004, and was signed by Felice K. Shapiro, then Vice President, New York State Counsel. The claim was assigned to Timothy McLeron, then the New York State Claims counsel for Old Republic.
Rather than deal with his claim, Sheu says, Centex and Old Republic decided to pretend as if the May 23, 2000 closing was not fraudulent, even though he had provided both companies with documentation.
Instead, Centex later filed a lawsuit to foreclose on the property, Sheu says. "It was like a thief suing the victim. They conspired to steal my property," Sheu claims.
Nine years later, Sheu has been foreclosed on his property by Old Republic, which substituted for Centex as plaintiff in 2008.
Separately, officials at both Centex and Old Republic did not return phone calls and
e-mail messages from The Black Star News seeking comment.
A lawyer for Old Republic, Matthew Dollinger, did not respond to an
e-mail message with detailed questions. A spokesman for the New York State Department of Insurance did not return a phone message and e-mail message by publication time. Similarly, a spokesman for the New York State Attorney General did not respond by publication time.
At the fraudulent closing, on May 23, 2000, two associates of the broker,
Yek-YunChiu, participated in the scam, Sheu says. Amy Cheng, whose real name is Jin-Rong Wang, acted as the "buyer" of the property. She carried multiple identification and used the fake one, "Amy Cheng," for the closing. Her boyfriend, Jing Gao, acted as the "seller."
The pair was later busted by police and pleaded guilty on forgery charges.
Amy Cheng, the supposed buyer, did not even make the required $30,000 down payment on the property, Sheu says. Yet the deal was okayed by Centex's lawyer,
Brooklyn-based attorney, Jakov J. Bohensky, Sheu says.
Bohensky's name appears on the
federally-required HUD-1 document certifying that the $30,000 downpayment was made, although his signature is not on the form.
The Black Star News has also reviewed photocopies of what purports to be checks made out by Bohensky in connection with the transaction. One check, purportedly made out to
Ming-Chien Hsu, Sheu's brother, is for $4,112.60. Sheu says it was also a fake check since his brother was not selling the property, and in any case, he was not even in the country and never received the check.
Another check, purportedly for $1,000 was to Jeffrey Ruan, who was supposed to have been Jing Gao's, the "seller's" lawyer.
A copy of what purports to be a money order for $1,000, one of several payments towards the purchase of the house, made out to Sheu's brother, Hsu, by Amy Cheng, is drawn from Abacus Federal Savings Bank, in Chinatown. Canal Street is mispelled "Cannal Street."
In an interview, Ruan told The Black Star News that when Sheu later told him about the forgery, he wrote to Old Republic urging that the company not transfer the title pending resolution of the alleged forgery.
"What I cannot understand is how Centex's lawyer at the closing went along with this scam," Sheu says, in the interview. "He must have known it was fraudulent as the detectives said."
Bohensky did not return a phone message from The Black Star News seeking comment.
The Black Star News spoke with one of the New York Police detectives who looked into Sheu's allegations in 2000. He said he was able to confirm that it was a forged power of attorney and that Sheu's brother, Hsu, was not in the country and could not have signed it in front of the notary public. He said bank records also showed that some purported deposits were actually never made.
Sheu also blames Midwest Finance, the agent for Chase Bank of Texas, his brother's mortgage holder, for not returning the money to Centex after he notified the company of the 2000 forgery. Contacted by The Black Star News, a Midwest official confirmed that Sheu's mortgage had been paid off; he wouldn't provide additional information.
Even after the May 23, 2000 fraudulent "closing," Sheu says, he wasn't too worried initially because he believed once he had reported the fraud to police and the DA, things would eventually be sorted out.
"It was the court system that later betrayed me," says the immigrant from Taiwan." Is this the American way?"
Acting as if the May 23, 2000 closing had been authentic, on January 10, 2001, Centex's title insurer, Old Republic, recorded the property's deed and mortgage with the New York City Register in Queens County. Old Republic listed Sheu's brother,
Ming-ChienHsu, as the first "party" and Jing Gao, the phony "seller" at the May 23, 2000 "closing" as the second "party."
"This was knowingly criminal," Sheu claims.
Then on December 12, 2001, Centex filed a lawsuit against Sheu and his brother Hsu in State Supreme Court, in Queens County, seeking a default judgment on the property, arguing that Amy Cheng was not making payment on the mortgage, even though Cheng was the fictitious name of the buyer at the fraudulent May 23, 2000 closing.
So, in addition to Sheu and Hsu, Centex listed as
co-defendants the very individuals that had victimized the brothers: Amy Cheng (Jin-Rong Wang), her boyfriend, Jing Gao, and the broker who presided over the fraudulent May 23, 2000 "closing," Yek-Yun Chiu. Non of the fraudsters ever appeared in court.
The case was assigned to Justice Joseph Golia in State Supreme Court in Queens.
"My nightmare was just beginning," Sheu now recalls. "It was like the thief suing the victim of the crime."
Sheu says, if Judge Golia had granted him due process, including disclosure, he would have quickly exposed the fraud perpetrated against him and that the case would have been thrown out.
Instead, Judge Golia granted summary judgment in favor of Centex and foreclosed on the property on July 21, 2004, records show.
Sheu continued to complain to Centex. A September 23, 2004 letter to Sheu's brother, Hsu, by Gerry King, a customer relations officer at the company acknowledges receiving "numerous faxed letters and copies of various documents" from Sheu but adds that, "it was the decision of the court that insufficient evidence to prove fraud was provided, and the Supreme Court of the State of New York issued a judgment of foreclosure..."
"There was no deposition, no discovery, So how could I present evidence to show fraud?" Sheu says, in the interview with The Black Star News.
Sheu says, even though Centex knew its May 23, 2000 originated mortgage was fraudulent, it was now using the Court system to legitimize the transaction.
The foreclosure sale was on January 28, 2005. "Centex bought the property for $1,000 from Amy Cheng, the fraudster," Sheu says. "That was not even her real name. How can you buy property from someone who does not exist?"
A week after Centex "bought" the property, on February 2, 2005, both Amy Cheng
(Jin-Rong Wang) and Jing Gao, who had never appeared in court on the Centex case, were arrested based on the criminal forgery complaint filed by Sheu in 2000.
Sheu sent a fax to Centex's Gerry King about the development and also informed Judge Golia. Sheu says he was appalled, so he also wrote a letter to New York State Chief Administrative Judge, Jonathan Lippman, complaining about how his brother's property had been "stolen." He accused Golia of "bias" and "discrimination."
Sheu says on February 3, 2005, Jason Garlick, an Assistant District Attorney at the Queens County DA's Office, who had prosecuted Amy Cheng
(Jin-Rong Wang) and Jing Gao, called him and asked him not to contact media about his case. "Judge Golia must have called the DA's Office because I told him I was going to media," Sheu says.
Judge Golia ordered a hearing for April, which was later moved to May 18 and 19, 2005.
The order was signed by Judge Golia on March 17, 2005 and stamped with the Queens county clerk's seal on March 23, 2005. Sheu says, when he last checked court records on March 24, 2005, there was no such entry or copy of such an order.
In fact, Sheu says, the only order he found in the records at the time, signed by Judge Golia on March 17, 2005, and stamped with the Queens county clerk's seal on March 23, 2005, was a denial of Sheu's and his brother, Hsu's motion for Judge Golia to recuse himself.
After the May hearing, it was not until nearly a year later, on April 12, 2006, that Judge Golia returned with a ruling on the case. Judge Golia again denied the defendants' motion that he recuse himself. The judge cancelled the fraudulent deed of May 23, 2000 between
Ming-Chien Hsu and Amy Cheng (Jin-Rong Wang), he cancelled the foreclosure order filed on July 21, 2004, and he cancelled and vacated the foreclosure sale of January 28, 2005.
Judge Golia, however, did not restore
Ming-Chien Hsu's (Sheu's brother) original 15-year $226,500 mortgage with SMI Mortgage (SMI had later assigned the mortgage to Chase Bank of Texas).
"This violated my right as a crime victim to be restored to original status," Sheu says, reading from papers he had pulled from research.
That wasn't all.
Judge Golia awarded Summary Judgment in favor of Centex to foreclose an equitable mortgage, under the doctrine of Equitable Subrogation against the premises: he ruled that Centex had paid off the original mortgage.
"How can equitable subrogation apply to stolen property?" Sheu asks. "This means if I have a lot of money, like Centex, I can pay off anybody's mortgage anywhere without their permission and then take possession of their home and kick them out," Sheu noted, sarcastically.
Judge Golia did not return phone calls seeking comment and also didn't respond to an
e-mail message. In a phone interview, Mitchell Kaufman, Judge Golia's law secretary, claimed Sheu's information about the fraud would not have made a difference in the case "if Centex did not know at the time" of the May 23, 2000 closing that it was based on the forged power of attorney. "Apparently, Mr. Sheu is either unwilling or unable to accept the judgment of equitable subrogation."
Sheu retorts: "Centex knew it was a fraudulent transaction. It was represented by an attorney — Bohensky, and the fraudulent transaction was endorsed by Joseph Bigman, Old Republic's title agent. In any case, Old Republic issued me a claim number and they still did nothing except to foreclose."
Asked what if Centex did know, or came to know that the May 23, 2000 closing was fraudulent, Kaufman said, of Sheu: "He may have a tort claim against Centex."
Judge Golia appointed Martin Evans as referee charged with computing the amount owed to Centex by Sheu. Evans entered a judgment amount of $465,433.29 in favor of Centex.
Golia also ruled that Centex could move for a judgment of foreclosure and sale, with costs, disbursements and any additional allowance as allowed by law.
Separately, Dollinger, Gonski & Grossman, the law firm representing Centex (now representing Old Republic, since it substituted as the plaintiff), managed to get a satisfaction of mortgage document from Chase Bank of Texas, even though the mortgage was in the name of Sheu's brother, Hsu.
Sheu said that, when he called Midwest, Craig K. Olson, a Vice President, told him that a lawyer from Dollinger had informed Midwest that the firm represented Sheu and his brother, Hsu.
Judge Golia issued a judgment of foreclosure sale on April 7, 2009. The foreclosure sale occurred on May 15, 2009, and on May 27, 2009, Sheu appeared before Judge Golia with Stephen Katz, an attorney. Judge Golia denied Sheu's motion to vacate the order for foreclosure and sale.
In his motion, Sheu said Old Republic was foreclosing on a loan "obtained by fraud and by forgery of a power of attorney," to which Judge Golia wrote: "This assertion is intentionally misleading and disingenuous at best."
"It is the truth," Sheu says. "It is nothing but the whole truth."
In the almost decade he's been fighting for the property, Sheu has learned a few things about the law. He pulls out information he's researched and reads: "Part 100 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator of the Courts Governing Judicial conduct, Section 100.3, Disqualification. A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or the judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding."
In June 2009, Sheu met twice with a criminal investigator at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District for a total of about four hours and discussed his case and submitted documentation. "We cannot confirm or deny that we are investigating this case," the investigator told The Black Star News, when contacted by phone.
"These seem to be issues for the Appellate Division, as I am not in position, nor am I qualified to say whether or not a Judge's decision was 'proper' or not, nor am I in a position to say what rule of law should have been used to decide a particular case," David Bookstaver, Communications Director for the New York State Unified Court System Office of Court Administration told The Black Star News.
Desperate, on June 23, 2009, Sheu again filed an order to show cause for a temporary restraining order to halt any further action even though the sale had already occurred.
He demanded that detectives Keith Ng and Kin Lee, now both retired, who had investigated the fraudulent May 23, 2000 closing, be permitted to testify.
Judge Bernice D. Siegal, stayed any additional proceedings with respect to sale of the property, with a return hearing date of July 8, 2009.
At the July 8, hearing, Judge Golia set another hearing date for July 15, 2009, at which time Sheu was to produce cancelled checks for all payments he had made over the last nine years on the property, for taxes, insurance payments, and utilities.
This reporter attended the July 15, 2009, hearing and observed the clearly acrimonious relationship between Judge Golia and Sheu. Judge Golia kept shouting at Sheu, who was unable to produce receipts; Sheu on the other hand kept shouting at the judge about the May 23, 2000 fraudulent conveyance he insisted was at the root of his predicament.
"This is junk justice," Sheu said, as he walked out of the court. "Nobody is above the law, except Judge Golia."
Copyright 2009, Black Star News, Inc.
On June 23, 2009, Judge Bernice D. Siegal of the State Supreme Court in Queens County stayed any additional proceedings with respect to the foreclosure sale of a Queens property, where the owner,
Sun-Ming Sheu, has accused the judge presiding over the case, Judge Joseph Golia, of bias in favor of the plaintiff.
The return date of the stay by Judge Siegal was July 8, 2009.
In a telephone interview today, Mitchell Kaufman, Judge Golia's law secretary, said the judge had lifted the stay on July 8, the first date of the two hearings on the case, whose original caption was Centex Home Equity vs. Amy Cheng. There was a second hearing on July 15, whose purpose now makes no sense.
Old Republic National Title Insurance Company (the company substituted for Centex as plaintiff in 2008) has won a summary judgment to foreclose and sell the property.
Judge Golia issued the most recent judgment of foreclosure sale on April 7, 2009, and the foreclosure sale occurred on May 15, 2009.
Records reviewed by The Black Star News show that Centex, the previous plaintiff of record, had actually originated a mortgage against the property in question on May 23, 2000, in a fraudulent closing during which a forged power of attorney purporting to be the property owner's, was used.
Sheu claims that he was not informed that Judge Golia had lifted the stay signed by Judge Siegal. "This is an example of the same corruption I have suffered in this court for nine year now," Sheu says. "They did not inform me that the stay was lifted so I could not file another stay. I will file another one immediately. I hope the case can be removed from this judge."
State Supreme Court records, as well as on the Court's own website show no records indicating that Judge Golia had indeed vacated the June 23, 2009 stay.
In the telephone interview today, Kaufman reiterated that the June 23 stay by Judge Siegal, had been vacated by Judge Golia "on the first return date" of July 8, 2009.
Asked why there was no documentation of Judge Golia having vacated the June 23 stay, Kaufman said: "I don't know. The judge didn't write a decision to that effect. The judge issued an order. When a judge states something, it's an order. I don't think it was ever reduced to writing. I would not be surprised if it's actually on the document," he said, adding, "If you go into the court file and get an order of the stay, the judge may have stricken the stay and signed the striking of the stay on that date, or he may have just done it orally."
Asked whether transcripts from the hearing would document the judge having lifted the stay, Kaufman said, "No, not unless there was a reporter to record it."
When told that Sheu, who was present at the July hearing has no record of Judge Golia ever having lifted the stay, Kaufman said: "Well I know Sheu was present. I can't speak to his ability to recall. He may have forgotten; he may not have paid attention."
He added: "I honestly don't know. I did speak to the judge, and the judge said he lifted it. He lifted the stay on the return date of the order to show cause."
As previously reported in The Black Star News, at the July 8, 2009 hearing, Judge Golia had set another hearing date for July 15, 2009, at which time Sheu was to produce cancelled checks for all payments he had made over the last nine years on the property, for taxes, insurance payments, and utilities.
This reporter attended the July 15, 2009, hearing which was essentially a shouting match between Judge Golia and Sheu.
Sheu added: "Judge Golia never vacated the stay on July 8. Why would he have held a hearing on July 15?"
Copyright 2009, Black Star News, Inc.
The man says he was "kidnapped" by New York City police detectives in an attempt to scare him from his fight to keep control of his home.
He says even though Centex was well aware it had acquired the disputed property in a closing in which a forged document was used, the company still filed a lawsuit to foreclose on the property rather than pursue the criminals involved in the forgery. "Centex became part of the crime," Sheu says.
Sheu says his numerous letters of protest to Judge Joseph Golia, who has presided over the case in State Supreme Court in Queens, and to other court officials, resulted in an
arm-twisting visit from detectives.
Sheu had been demanding in the letters that the two detectives who investigated the 2000 mortgage scam be permitted to testify on his behalf.
One letter Sheu sent to Judge Golia was dated January 6, 2009. He complained that he had been denied his right to discovery and deposition. Had detectives Keith Ng, formerly of the 109 Precinct, and Kin Lee, formerly of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office, been allowed to testify early when the case began in 2001, the two would have exposed Centex's involvement in the phony mortgage closing, Sheu says.
Sheu also sent a copy of the letter to Administrative Judge Jeremy Weinstein, and he hand delivered the letter to Judge Golia's residence. Sheu says, he decided to take the letter to the judge's residence because in the nine years he'd been fighting the case, the judge had appeared no more than five times even though records show nearly 30 official court sessions. "Whenever I went to court, I had to hand my papers to his law clerk, Mitchell Kaufman," Sheu recalls.
About a week after Sheu left the letter at Judge Golia's residence, Sheu says, on January 14, 2009, when he stepped out of the judge's courtroom after submitting some documents, and while he was still inside the Queens courthouse, two men in plainclothes approached him. The men flashed badges, tapped their side arms, and asked him to accompany them.
Sheu says the men declined to provide business cards. He was driven in an unmarked car to the Queens County D.A.'s Office, where he was led in through a rear entrance, he says.
Inside a small room, Sheu sat facing the two men across a table, he says.
He was required to provide his social security number and made to empty his pockets. One detective left the room and made photocopies of his driver's license as well as his credit cards, Sheu says. "One of them said, 'We know you're a victim of mortgage fraud, but we are not going to talk about that today,'" Shue recalls.
Then one of them opened a folder and revealed the letter he had left in Judge Golia's mailbox. "He said, 'did you send this letter?' and I said, 'yes,'" Sheu recalls. "Then they began to say, 'don't contact detective Keith Ng again.' They said, 'the house belongs to the bank.' They began to ask me about my tax issues and my immigration status. One of them said they would like to go to my home to see my passport. They were getting angrier."
Sheu says one of the detectives leaned across the desk towards him. "He said, 'you cannot send a letter again,'" Sheu recalled. "And I cannot contact detective Keith Ng again. They kept saying, 'you cannot contact Keith Ng again.'"
He says he asked whether Jayson Garlick, an assistant district attorney who had once worked on the May 23, 2000 fraudulent mortgage closing case was available, and he was told Garlick no longer worked at the Queens County D.A.'s Office.
Sheu says the detectives also copied phone numbers from his cell phone. He said he was kept for two hours before being escorted downstairs and let out of a side door that led towards a drugstore. "They didn't write down anything," Sheu recalls.
He said he had to demand his driver's license back before he walked out of the building. Sheu met with a retired detective the next day and narrated the incident to him. "He said one word," Sheu recalled, "Kidnap."
On January 18, 2009, Sheu sent a letter to Robert H. Tembeckjian, Administrator and Counsel to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, documenting what he now calls his "kidnapping."
Judge Golia did not return a phone message seeking comment.
The judge's law clerk, Mitchell Kaufman said the judge had not contacted the police about Sheu and that the judge had not filed a report, raising questions about who summoned the detectives.
"However there is a matter open, if you will, with court security because Mr. Sheu had taken it upon himself to, I guess, through the Internet, to obtain information about the judge and his private residence, and the judge's wife and the judge's daughter," Kaufman added. "And he left mail addressed to the judge's wife, not through the mail, not with the stamped mail, but going to the judge's residence and leaving mail in the judge's mailbox. So I imagine something came out of that. I don't know."
"As a party in a civil case, Mr. Sheu should not have had any outside contact with the judge presiding over the matter, and he especially should not have gone to the judge's personal residence," said Kevin Ryan, a spokesperson for the District Attorney in Queen's County. "As a result of his actions, the District Attorney's Office conducted a
follow-upinterview with Mr. Sheu to determine whether there was any possible threat or intimidation made against the judge by Mr. Sheu."
Ryan did not address the issue of the detectives warning Sheu not to try and contact detectives Keith Ng and Kin Lee again. He also didn't respond to a question about whether Judge Golia had filed a report and whether a copy existed.
"Mr. Sheu was cooperative and willingly agreed to go with the D.A. detectives back to their office," Ryan added. "During the interview, Mr. Sheu was told that his behavior was inappropriate and possibly criminal. The office has never received a complaint from Mr. Sheu."
"As I said before, I had not seen the judge in person in the courtroom," Sheu counters. "Whenever I went, only his law clerk was there. Detectives Ng and Lee had both agreed to testify without subpoena. That was the only message I wanted to deliver to the judge. I was the one being intimidated by the detectives. If it was official, why would they not even give me business cards or identify themselves. They had guns and touched it. How could I refuse to go with them? I sent a letter to the Commission on Judicial Conduct about this incident."
Centex Home Equity in December, 2001, filed the lawsuit seeking foreclosure of the property, which was then in Sheu's brother's name,
Sheu had already informed Centex on several occasions that the May 23, 2000 "closing" had been fraudulent, and he even sent the company copies of the police complaint number he obtained after filing a report.
Indeed, Old Republic Title Insurance Co., which was the title insurer at the Centex "closing," even issued Sheu a claims complaint number #43391. The fraudsters involved in the forgery later pleaded guilty. Yet Centex acted as if no fraud had occurred and filed the lawsuit to foreclose.
Detectives Ng's and Lee's testimonies early in the case would have exposed that Centex knew it had originated a mortgage on the property based on forged documents, leaving Judge Golia with no option but to toss the lawsuit, Sheu contends.
Judge Golia ruled in favor of Centex in 2005, and again earlier this year, on April 7, 2009, this time in favor of Old Republic. On April 25, 2008, Centex had filed a motion before Judge Golia to be replaced by Old Republic as the plaintiff on the case, and the judge consented.
"Old Republic gave me a claim number years ago," Sheu says, sarcastically. "Then the company found a more profitable way out."
So, Old Republic, which years earlier had issued a complaint number acknowledging Sheu's report of the mortgage fraud, ends up wresting control of the property with the assistance of the court, Sheu says.
After the two May 23, 2000 forgery suspects were arrested by police, Judge Golia vacated his earlier foreclosure order. However, the judge did not restore Sheu's brother, Hsu's original
15-year mortgage .
He then ruled in favor of Centex, concluding that since the company had paid off the mortgage on the property regardless of the fraudulent conveyance that records confirm, the company was entitled to foreclose an equitable mortgage under the doctrine of Equitable Subrogation.
"It's like a thief paying off the mortgage on a property, then asking the original mortgage holder to move out," Sheu says.
Copyright 2009, Black Star News, Inc.
Posted by JUSTICE FOR SUNNY SHEU at 10:45 PM