Friday, May 25, 2012

Multiple New Jersey Tax Lien Auction Bid Rigging Class Action Suits Face Consolidation In Federal Court

In Lebanon Township, New Jersey, the Hunterdon County Democrat reports:

  • A class action lawsuit initiated by a township woman facing foreclosure could be consolidated with two other similar lawsuits.

  • Jeanne Boyer who has been fighting to save her own home from foreclosure, filed the suit in March on behalf of herself and potentially thousands of other homeowners in similar situations. Boyer alleges that she is one of many victims of an illegal scheme that allowed tax lien investors to charge the highest amount of interest allowed by law by eliminating the competitive bidding process.

  • The suit was filed in Hunterdon County Superior Court on March 13 and removed to federal court on March 28. Since then two other similar suits have been filed in Federal District Court.

  • One of the suits was filed by Raymond Contarino, of Newfield. A New York company, M.A. Sass, bought the lien on his home at the March 2007 auction for $5,224. That company has not been charged by the Department of Justice but so far there have been nine other guilty pleas in connection with the scheme. The investigation is still open.

  • According Contarino’s suit, “as a direct result of defendants’ unlawful combination, collusion, conspiracy and agreement,” all 59 tax liens auctioned at the March 2007 tax lien sale in Newfield, were purchased “by defendants and/or unnamed co-conspirators, at the artificially elevated, maximum bid rate of 18%.”

  • Another suit was filed by MSC, LLC, of Cherry Hill. The three suits name many of the same people or companies as defendants. A motion to consolidate is now pending in federal court.

  • All three suits ask the court to stop the people who have pleaded guilty from enforcing any tax liens they currently hold, return title to properties already foreclosed upon and turning over proceeds from sales of properties they received because of the bid-rigging scheme. Such proceeds are the “fruits of the illegal conduct” of the people now awaiting sentencing.

No comments: