Foreclosed Mother Keeps Home… For Now
By Steven Greenstreet and Konrad Aderer
VOICEOVER: The morning her house was to be auctioned off in court, Jocelyn Voltaire woke up to find donations and reporters on her front porch.
REPORTER: What do you think this is from? Do you think that’s from—?
JOCELYN VOLTAIRE: I believe this—.
REPORTER: Open it up. That’s for you, right? Let’s see what that is.
VOLTAIRE: Some people sent it for a donation.
VOLTAIRE: Some good samaritan who helping me.
REPORTER: Isn’t that nice?
VOICEOVER: Since ANP aired her story, a national grassroots effort has been launched to prevent the auction from occurring, and new details have emerged that make her story even more an emblem of the nation’s financial crisis. Almost overnight the peace group Code Pink organized an online fundraiser for Jocelyn, and within 24 hours had raised close to $30,000 dollars. Flying in from all over the country, Code Pink representatives brought the donations and attended Jocelyn’s court hearing. They were able to delay the auction of her home.
GAEL MURPHY, CO-FOUNDER, CODE PINK: At eleven o’clock today, fortunately we were able to intervene quickly enough with the Litton company and get them to pull her house from the auction block. The support that has come to Jocelyn has been really quite incredible. Code Pink, we saw the news piece, you know, the day before yesterday of Jocelyn’s situation, and, you know, we jumped on it right away. We put out an alert to our constituents, to 200,000 people across the country this morning at 8 o’clock in the morning, and by 11 o’clock we had $15,000 that we could offer the Litton company on her behalf, and by noon press conference we had $22,000 that we’re able to give Litton. All of the money that was collected today, people are sending $5, $10, $100. So it’s this wonderful connection that’s being made, and Americans across the country are really feeling Jocelyn’s story and are feeling it in their own communities and are wanting to help. And so they are. They’re really turning out. And they saved her home today.
VOICEOVER: Despite this victory, Jocelyn’s legal battle is not over. She will have to attend another court hearing on Thursday, October 23, where a judge will hear her case to dismiss the judgment of foreclosure against her. In the meantime, more attention is being focused on Jocelyn’s mortgage company, Litton Loans Servicing, who is still fighting to auction her home.
MURPHY: Well, we’re certainly interested in finding out more about Litton, ’cause we don’t know how they bought and sold her mortgage or, you know, thousands of other mortgages.
VOICEOVER: ANP has discovered new details about Litton Loans Servicing. As previously reported, Litton is a leading player in a field known as subprime servicing. Litton services some $54 billion in such loans, making it one of the top ten companies that does so. Suprime servicers such as Litton claim their mission is to help homeowners put their mortgages back in good standing, yet Litton has frequently been accused of engaging in abusive practices.
PHILIP MATTERA, DIRECTOR, CORPORATE RESEARCH PROJECT: There have been endless accusations against the company for being involved in abusive practices, you know, particularly unwarranted late fees and other penalties being tacked on, you know, to people’s mortgage payments.
VOICEOVER: According to Justia.com, a comprehensive database of court cases nationwide, Litton has been sued more than 100 times in federal court for abusive and deceptive practices since the beginning of 2004. Recently, cases in California and Pennsylvania have accused the company of violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
MATTERA: I mean, Litton says it’s trying to help homeowners, but a lot of these homeowners feel that Litton is actually, you know, making it harder for them to avoid foreclosure. There have also been charges that Litton directly pushes people into foreclosure. There was an article in The Houston Press saying that one of Litton’s own employees suddenly found herself in a position where her subprime mortgage was being serviced by her employer, and she eventually was pressured into foreclosure, and when she complained about it, she got fired.
VOICEOVER: As ANP reported, Goldman Sachs, a company at the center of the financial collapse, bought Litton Loans Servicing last year for $428 million.
MATTERA: Well, I was surprised to find that a company tied to Goldman Sachs was involved in the foreclosure of a woman’s home in Queens.
VOLTAIRE: The reason you see all this: because I was packing. The reason you see everything all over: I was packing my stuff.
MATTERA: I’ve always tended to think that the companies involved in predatory lending, at least at that direct level, you know, were really small, fly-by-night companies. So I was very intrigued to see Goldman Sachs involved, both because it’s, you know, a huge financial institution and because its former executives, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, are so involved in the bailout and supposed economic rescue program that’s going on in Washington. It just seemed odd to me that they would also have a link to foreclosures.
VOICEOVER: The acquisition of Litton was not publicly advertised by Goldman, which didn’t issue even a routine press release of the sale and offered no mention of Litton on their website.
MATTERA: Usually when a company makes an acquisition, it wants the world to know about it. Goldman did not put out a press release. It was even hard to find references to it in Goldman’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was only once they’d put out their next annual filing, their 10-K filing, that there was any reference to it, and even that was buried—I think it was something like page 83. I think they may be a little embarrassed to be in this business. And I was a little surprised that Goldman Sachs had bought this company and was putting itself in what seems like a kind of sleazy business. So I would hope that, you know, people in the Treasury Department and Congress kind of recognize what the federal government is buying into.
VOICEOVER: As Jocelyn Voltaire arrives in court on Thursday to continue her fight with Litton Loan Servicing, the details of her plight will likely continue to paint a clearer picture of what might be a much bigger problem for millions nationwide.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.