Homeless Halloween party leaves foreclosure firm finished
At a get-together for staffers of the Steven J. Baum law firm last month, employees donned rags and ravaged clothes to dress like the homeless. The Baum firm has been called the top “foreclosure mill” of its type and has represented the biggest banks in America in attempts to evict homeowners befallen during these tough economic times. This, of course, makes mocking the people whose lives they ruined hysterical, right?The joke got a new punch line this week with the announcement that Baum has gone bust.Business First reports Monday out of Buffalo that the Baum firm will be shutting down after a series of scandals and malpractice issues that only intensified after photos from last month’s party were made public. In addition to the tasteless gala that Baum employees hosted, lending giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae announced earlier this month that they would stop doing business with the firm following a federal investigation. While a governmental probe could not find any wrongdoing in the business practices of Baum, critics elsewhere have attacked the firm in recent months for aggressive techniques, with a New York State judge going as far as to call their work “incredible, outrageous, ludicrous and disingenuous.” Preet S. Bharara, a Manhattan attorney for the US that investigated the firm said after the company agreed to settle federal charges with a $2 million fine that “In mortgage foreclosure proceedings, there are no excuses for sloppy practices that could lead to someone mistakenly losing their home.”“Homeowners facing foreclosure cannot afford to have faulty paperwork or inadequate evidence submitted, and today’s agreement will help minimize that risk,” added Bharara.Outside of the finance sector, however, the public became just as peeved at Baum after photos circulated from their Halloween get-together. An exposé was posted in the New York Times, which led to Steven Baum himself sending the columnist who published the images a letter warning him that he won’t be forgiven for bankrupting his firm."There is blood on your hands for this one,” Baum wrote to the Times’ Joe Nocera. “You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC.”Now for foreclosing on countless homeowners and then ridiculing them with “will work for food signs,” shopping carts and appallingly destitute apparel, at least 89 employees from two Baum offices will be left scrounging for change to make ends meet.“Disrupting the livelihoods of so many dedicated and hardworking people is extremely painful, but the loss of so much business left us no choice but to file these notices,” Baum writes in a statement regarding their closing.Ha.