It appears a set of Halloween pictures contributed to the downfall of one of the nation's largest foreclosure mills and an Auburn woman says she's ecstatic.
The Steven J. Baum law firm of Buffalo announced it was shutting down last month shortly after the New York Times published photographs taken at the company's Halloween party in 2010. The photos depicted Baum staff members dressed up as homeless people, apparently mocking those they had forced from their homes through foreclosure.
Marie Treat whose foreclosure battle with the Baum law firm was profiled in a series of CNY Central reports two years ago said, "to the person like me, who sat here everyday worrying about losing my home... I can't even begin to tell you how that would feel, that they would even do that, dress up like that and take pictures of it...it's astounding."
The Steven J. Baum law firm has been under state and federal scrutiny over allegations of questionable and deceptive practices. Recently the law firm admitted to the U.S Attorney that it made errors in legal filings and agreed to pay $2 million dollars.
Marie Treat says the State Attorney General is looking into her complaint against the Baum law firm, "I had proof from the beginning that I was not supposed to be in foreclosure and their tactics were crazy... they would not listen, they would not respond, would not show up in court." Treat credits our reports for allowing her to come to a settlement with Baum and refinance her home with a local bank.
When the firm closes its offices in Buffalo and Long Island, approximately 90 people will lose their jobs. Additionally hundreds more could be out of work at a document processing company associated with the Baum law firm. Steven J. Baum has not responded to our call for comment, but earlier issued a statement: "Disrupting the livelihoods of so many dedicated and hardworking people is extremely painful, but the loss of so much business left us no choice..."
Marie Treat has little sympathy for him. "It was a long time coming and I am just ecstatic for the people like me and all the other people that had to suffer because of him. Maybe now it's his time to get his karma."
The firm handled 40 percent of the more than 46 thousand foreclosure action brought in New York courts last year according to the New York Law Journal.