Denver foreclosure lawyer faces federal sanctions
A foreclosure lawyer whose firm is under state investigation for alleged bill-padding also faces federal discipline for misrepresenting documents she used to take someone’s Colorado Springs home.
Attorney Toni M.N. Dale of Medved Dale Decker & Deere in Lakewood was referred for discipline last month by a federal judge for wrongly certifying that copies of a bank’s promissory note — required for any foreclosure in Colorado — were “true and correct” when, in fact, she had never seen the originals at all.
Additionally, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge A. Bruce Campbell said in a written order that not only was Dale’s certification in 2011 to the El Paso County public trustee — the overseer of foreclosures in that county — untrue, but so was her verification to the bankruptcy court about the same records.
Campbell on June 25 reported Dale to the federal court’s committee on conduct, a body of 12 attorneys that investigates allegations of lawyer misconduct. That body reports to a disciplinary panel of three federal judges who ultimately determine what sanctions, if any, are merited, including disbarment.
By rule, committee proceedings are confidential.
Dale and her attorney did not immediately respond to efforts by The Denver Post to reach them.
At issue are differing copies of a loan Anthony Semadeni signed with First Magnus Financial in 2007, specifically the endorsement page where a lender transfers ownership with a signature.
The copies show different or missing signatures, and two key signatures purportedly by the same bank official are markedly dissimilar.
Dale filed a foreclosure case in 2011 against Semadeni on behalf of Aurora Loan Services, which claimed to be the new holder of the note, and provided a copy of the document — without the endorsement page proving ownership — along with a certification that it was a “true and correct” copy of the original.
Semadeni filed for bankruptcy protection later that year, essentially freezing the foreclosure process. As is allowed, Dale formally requested that the stay be lifted, filing a copy that she verified was Semadeni’s note — this time with the endorsement page showing a pair of stamps and signatures transferring ownership, first from First Magnus to Lehman Brothers Bank, then from Lehman to Aurora.
A bankruptcy judge granted Dale’s request and lifted the stay, and Semadeni’s house sold at the trustee’s public auction in August 2011 to Aurora Loan Services for $620,000, records show. Semadeni abandoned his bankruptcy case.
ALS began eviction proceedings on Semadeni in September 2011 in state court. In that proceeding, a different lawyer representing ALS filed copies of Semadeni’s note, this time with an endorsement page showing only a single stamp and signature.
Semadeni filed for bankruptcy again, hoping the automatic stay would help explain the mess. The ALS lawyer, Jamie Siler, filed the same note.
“Isn’t that an admission that it was a dummy note that was submitted to the court (in Semadeni’s first bankruptcy)?” Campbell asked Siler in a hearing, referring to the document Dale had used.
Though Semadeni was eventually evicted last November, he filed a federal lawsuit challenging the validity of the lien.
It is through that case that Campbell asked Dale to give reason why she shouldn’t be held in contempt and sanctioned for allegedly misrepresenting the validity of the documents she used to foreclose.
More than two years later, Dale says she can’t unravel the discrepancy.
Dale’s attorney, Lisa Lee, told Campbell that regardless of the “unquestionably” different signatures on copies of the note, “the time for awarding sanctions … has passed.”
The Colorado attorney general’s office is investigating whether foreclosure lawyers pad the bills they submit for reimbursement from homeowners. Dale’s former law firm, Dale & Decker, is under scrutiny for allegedly overcharging its costs to post legal notices that advise homeowners of their rights.
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