FAIR LAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Imagine living in your home for 20 years, making payments every month, then one day having a sheriff show up with a moving truck to force you out.It sounds impossible, but as CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, it’s a lot easier than you might think to end up the victim of a stolen home.“It’s a nightmare,” Josephine Nisevic said.Nisevic and her husband, Nick, were technically trespassing on their own property when they looked at the empty house with CBS2’s Brennan.“It kills me that I can’t go inside my house,” she said.
They can’t go inside, because the Fair Lawn home no longer belongs to them. It was stolen.
“You work. You work hard for what you have, and then things like this happen,” Nisevic said.
It all started in 2005, when the couple received an offer in the mail to refinance and consolidate their bills.
“It looked great. My husband said, ‘Oh, look at this, they fix your credit,’ so we went along with it,” Nisevic said.
What the couple didn’t know was that it was all an elaborate scheme to steal their deed and strip the equity from their house.
“What happens here in these situations, people start to think that oh, this is part of the process. They end up giving out this information, and then that information can be used to prepare all of these documents, and forge signatures, and all the rest, and then that person is out of a home,” attorney Chris Cabanillas said.
Dozens of other local homeowners also fell victim to the same scam artists known as Rivertown Financial Service. The company has since been shuttered and the principals sent to jail.
But Nisevic’s story doesn’t end there.
“Imagine, losing your home. Your kids grew up there, you put that little line on that doorway every time your little baby girl gets two inches taller,” said the family’s attorney, Nima Ameri, “and then one day there are moving boxes that says, ‘Get out’ because there was a fraudulent mortgage scheme. ‘We want this property, we’re going to sell it at market value.’”
The home, which eventually fell into foreclosure, was sold at auction. It is now the property of Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
Freddie Mac, as the corporation is more commonly known, said they’ll sell the house back to the Nisevics — but at full market price, which is about $160,000 more than what the couple originally paid in 1995.
“Obviously, they’re not happy about that. They’re not happy to buy back the home that should never have been taken from them,” Ameri said.
They are especially unhappy after already shelling out more than a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees.
“It’s not right, it’s not fair,” Nick Nisevic said.
Freddie Mac told CBS2 it wouldn’t be fair to sell the home back for anything less.
“This protects taxpayers by reducing our losses and also supports local property values, which is good for neighborhoods by reducing the risk of blight. What happened to the Nisevics should remind everyone about the devastating impact mortgage fraud can have on our families,” the company said in a statement.
Cabanillas said that while these refinancing consolidation offers may seem enticing homeowners have to be careful.
“People get these offers all the time. Some of them may be legitimate,” he said.
The reality is you must have an attorney review the offer before signing on the dotted line.
Freddie Mac said they encourage the Nisevics to make a competitive offer on the house. The family said they will continue to fight.
In the lawsuit, Lockwood alleges DiRupo acted unprofessionally in student-related school matters and deliberately harassed Lockwood by making derogatory remarks and sexual advances toward him after Lockwood questioned and refused to go along with DiRupo’s leadership.
The lawsuit alleges that DiRupo’s actions, which were allegedly supported by the Board of Education, caused Lockwood, who the lawsuit said suffers from an undisclosed disability recognized under New Jersey state law, to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward and terminated from his position, and prevented him from receiving unemployment or disability compensation.
The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court by Ameri and Associates of Hackensack on behalf of Lockwood and was received by the defendants at the end of May.
“In our opinion, this case represents rural politics, corruption and a misguided delusion of immunity,” Lockwood’s attorney Nima Ameri said. “We believe this is a case where individuals believed they were above the law merely because they became institutionalized. In our opinion, the defendants acted as though their actions would not reap consequences. This stemmed from the misguided notion that being in a vacuum of cohorts enabled them to be untouchable.”
However, attorney James McCreedy of the law firm Wiley, Malehorn, Sirota & Raynes in Morristown, speaking on behalf of DiRupo and Klinck, said the pair denies any wrongdoing.
“We intend to deny the allegations and vigorously defend the lawsuit,” McCreedy said. “We’re hopeful that the case will be dismissed.”
Calls for comment to board President Richard D. Kuncken and board attorney Anthony Sciarrillo were not immediately returned.
In the lawsuit, Lockwood alleges the trouble began when DiRupo conspired to create a hostile work environment for Lockwood after he refused to lie about a special education student’s achievements to an administrative law judge at DiRupo’s request.
Lockwood alleges that DiRupo made the request in an attempt to prevent the high-achieving student, who Lockwood claims DiRupo referred to as a “retard,” from becoming the class valedictorian. The lawsuit also alleges that DiRupo and Klinck casually referred to both the student and the student’s parents using profanities.
The lawsuit further alleges DiRupo expelled a black student despite protests from Lockwood that similar actions were not taken for white students for the same offenses, and says DiRupo referred to the student using a racial slur.
Lockwood also claims that DiRupo made “intimidating and reproachful comments” about his disability.
Despite DiRupo’s alleged attempts to create an environment that would force Lockwood to resign, the lawsuit notes that his contract, which began in June of 2013, was renewed by the Board of Education the following year based on favorable evaluations written by DiRupo.
The lawsuit alleges that when DiRupo learned of the contract renewal, he asked Lockwood for his resignation, Lockwood declined the request.
The lawsuit alleges that Lockwood fought to maintain the quality of his performance in spite of the “interference and hostile environment,” but eventually “began to succumb to his disabilities, and to contemplate self-harm and suicide.”
According to the lawsuit, DiRupo laughed when Lockwood sought accommodation for his disability. When Lockwood instead sought professional help, physicians hospitalized him at the Ramapo Ridge Psychiatric Hospital for in-patient treatment to address his disabilities and “post-traumatic stress disorder specifically linked to his employment at Lenape,” the lawsuit said.
It alleges the defendants sought to terminate Lockwood in violation of a clause in his contract that required 30-day notice of termination without cause, and orchestrated that a hearing on the matter would be held when Lockwood, who was still in the hospital, would be unable to attend to defend himself. As a result, the lawsuit alleges, Lockwood was terminated from his position by the Board of Education.
After Lockwood’s termination, the lawsuit alleges the Board of Education interfered with his attempts to apply for unemployment and disability compensation by “issuing false written statements” to the respective state agencies stating that Lockwood had been “terminated with cause, as a result of unspecified misconduct.”
Lockwood is seeking “compensatory, consequential and incidental damages together with costs of suit, interest, attorney’s fees and such further and other relief as this Court may deem to be just and equitable.”
According to McCreedy, the lawsuit is now entering the potentially year-long “discovery” phase, during which the court allows each side to exchange documents and send written questions to be answered under oath. Following that period, McCreedy said he plans to file for summary judgment on behalf of his defendants. If a trial is held, he said, it would likely be no earlier than two years from now.
If the rapper Joe Budden is feeling the heat because cops are looking for him for allegedly roughly up and robbing his girlfriend last Sunday, the Jersey City native is hardly breaking a sweat — at least going by his big talk on Twitter.Budden tweeted yesterday that cops could find him last night at a strip club in Astoria. “Let the Man hunt know,” he taunted.
The “Pump It Up” lyricist followed up with “Glad to see our tax dollars being put to good use! Lol.”
The potty-mouth rapper continued with another post sure to offend lots of people: “Only 1 thing to do in times like these … so lemme go beat off like the real n— I am.”
And yes, predictably, he told cops to suck his private part.
Despite the online braggadocio, Budden’s attorney, Nima Ameri, told The New York Daily News he is fully cooperating with the police investigation, and he’s asking “for patience as the evidence and facts unfold.”
The one-time Def Jam artist allegedly showed up to a Washington Heights restaurant last Sunday, grabbed his ex-girlfriend and forced her into his car, and then took her to his New Jersey home where he continued to assault her, according to police reports.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Clara Leonardo lost the rental property on Prince Street in Middletown after she didn’t pay a $1,700 water bill.
Leonardo’s attorney, Chris Cabanillas, said his client never saw the water bills and legal notices because they were sent to the rental property and not her primary residence. He said the tenant ignored them because water bills were not their responsibility.
“She finds out that suddenly the property is not hers anymore. She goes in to inquire why, what happened, and she finds out,” Cabanillas said.
He continued, “All that we have is the one certified letter that they gave us a copy of and said telling her that if wasn’t paid by a certain date, the property was going to become theirs.”
Leonardo bought the rental property in 2005, hoping it would give her a financial edge for the future.
“I worked very hard for that. When the house needed repairs, I was here to 11, 12 o’clock at night,” she said. “That was my tomorrow, and my tomorrow is gone.”
Middletown Mayor Joseph deStephano said he acted within the law taking the property.
“She was collecting rent on both units. Ignored two years’ worth of notices, including regular mailings and certified mailings,” deStephano said.
Leonardo contends the town didn’t do enough to get in touch with her, and that she would have paid if she knew it meant losing her house. She said she did present a check for the amount owed, but it was after the house was taken, and was too late.
Attorney Nima Ameri said no matter the hardship, it’s the owners responsibility to know what is owed and when, or face the consequences.
“Homeowners beware: Pay your bills, pay your most important bills. That’s your property taxes, your water, and your mortgage,” Ameri said.
This happens in towns and cities all over the U.S., sometimes for missed bills of just a few hundred dollars.
Leonardo is considering filing for bankruptcy.
The house she lost is slated to be rehabbed for a community redevelopment program.
The “Pump It Up” hip-hop star surrendered to cops at the 34th Precinct stationhouse in Inwood Wednesday, with his attorney in tow, at about 9 a.m., cops said.
He was arraigned late in the day on charges of assault, grand larceny and robbery in Manhattan criminal court but was released after his mother came to his rescue with $10,000 in cash for bail.
“It’s good to be free,” Budden told the Daily News as he left the courthouse. He also took a parting shot at his accuser.
“I’ve been portrayed worse by better,” he said.
The rapper was ordered to sign an order of protection forbidding him from contacting his ex-girlfriend, who police said he assaulted on Aug. 18 after she posted a picture of herself with another man on Twitter.
On that day, an enraged Budden drove up to a restaurant near Nagle Ave. and Dyckman St. at 4:30 a.m., grabbed his ex‘s cell phone, pushed her in the head, twisted her arm and then choked her before slamming her head against the passenger-side window as he forced her into his car, according to the criminal complaint.
After driving back to the New Jersey home the two shared, Budden grabbed the woman‘s hair and dragged into their bedroom, where he punched her in the stomach, the court papers said.
He then said he needed to call a cab before he killed the woman, according to the complaint.
The beatdown has been compared to rapper Chris Brown’s savage attack on megastar Rihanna in 2009.
Budden, 33, has mantained his innocence publicly on Twitter.
“Let this be a lesson to all … never steal a cell phone that’s in your name,” he tweeted. “Smh … Justice will be served.”
“I should’ve known that girl was trouble when she never heard of Prince,” he wrote earlier. “Neve (sic) trust a woman that never heard ‘Purple Rain.’ ”
In court, Budden’s lawyer, Nima Ameri, said the rapper’s tweets, including those taunting the NYPD, were jokes.
The case has been pending in Manhattan Criminal Court since his arrest in August 2014.
Budden — who is known for hit “Pump It Up” — had been charged with stealing his ex-girlfriend’s cellphone, pushing her head and choking her.
After 1 year and 7 months, all domestic violence/grand larceny charges against me are dismissed….. God is good.
— Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) March 3, 2016
He was never indicted on the original charges of robbery, grand larceny and criminal obstruction of breathing because of the deal that was reached.
Budden’s attorney, Nima Ameri, said he was happy with the resolution.
Let this be a lesson to all….. Gotta watch these hoes… They’ll catch u up if u let’em.
— Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) March 3, 2016
“It is akin to standing in the middle of traffic … or making an unreasonable noise in public.”
Budden also admitted to unlicensed driving for a separate incident last year.
Ameri’s complaint states the tenant, Xgendasia Drakeford, allegedly attempted to move into the apartment pending a lease agreement. She found the building still had boarded up windows. She allegedly became “upset and abusive,” states the complaint.
Drakeford could not be contacted for this story.
The landlord had a contractor present to remove the boards, but waited on the tenant to turn on the utilities. The lawsuit states PSEG technicians were at the location to turn on the utilities.
Police arrived at the location and spoke to Ameri on the sidewalk outside of the home. He told the officers his tenant allegedly threatened him. He also told the officers he had requisite approvals from the city to allow the tenant to move into the building after he removes the boards from the first floor windows.
The lawsuit states the boards were in place to prevent a break in as the home was vacant. Officers Charon and Galvin notified the fire department to determine whether the home was fit for occupancy.
Samuel Gaita, a fire prevention specialist, responded to the location. He determined the building “uninhabitable” due to lack of fire protection devices, emergency exits, and a boarded up rear door.
Ameri states a week prior the city issued a “fire certificate.” Gaita told Drakeford, who paid $2,000 to secure the home, she should find other housing for her and her family. The complaint states Gaita’s findings were appealed to the construction board of appeals and were dismissed.
Ameri alleges the fire prevention specialist’s inspection was biased based on “undue influence and pressure” placed on him by Charon. Ameri and his handyman attempted to remove the boards, but were prevented by police and the inspector, states the suit.
The officers wrote in a report that Ameri did not unlock fences and gates to the property to allow the fire inspector to inspect the rear and sides of the property, according to the complaint. Ameri says in the lawsuit the report was falsified by police.
The property’s two gates led to a basement door, states the complaint. Ameri told the officers he would call his attorney, but police officers allegedly did not allow him to make the phone call.
He alleges officers arrested him. He told his handyman Richard Trinidad to contact his son Nima Ameri, who is an attorney. Trinidad allegedly was told by the officers in Spanish to not get involved or he would be arrested, states the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states police falsely wrote in their report that Ameri, who is 78 years old, was “combative” and pushed one of the officers, and needed to be subdued by force. Neighbors gave an opposite account of the incident stating the elderly man was non-combative and was treated aggressively by the officers, reads the complaint.
Ameri’s son arrived as his father was being placed in a squad car. The son found his father “pleading for medical assistance,” according to the lawsuit. The son began videotaping the incident.
Police told him to step away from the scene or risk being arrested for obstruction. He requested to assist his father. Officers Galvin and Charon allegedly slammed the rear door of the police car closed several times while Ameri’s leg and feet were not inside the vehicle.
Nima Ameri did not respond to a call to provide a copy of the video tapes. He alleges the footage shows police officers laughing as his father, who suffers from multiple medical problems, sought medical assistance.
Ameri was eventually taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for treatment. He allegedly suffered facial abrasion, wrist cuts, and complained about chest and muscle pain, according to the complaint.
An electrocardiogram reading suggests Ameri suffered a heart attack during the incident, states the lawsuit.
Ameri was released from hospital and taken to headquarters for processing. He complained about chest pain and was returned to the hospital. He was later released later that day.
The Plaintiff, a Passaic County Attorney sued their former clients for unpaid legal fees in the sum of over $1,300,000.00. The Company disputed these fees arguing the retainer agreement did not call for this amount and in fact the Attorneys conduct through the litigation was inappropriate and incompetent, leaving them exactly where they were before the litigation began. The Company argued the fees were outlandish and unsubstantiated. This firm successfully demonstrated in Arbitration that the Plaintiffs’ proofs were insufficient and his retainer ambiguous. The arbitrator awarded $988.00 to the Plaintiff out of the $1,300,000.00 he demanded. This was a successful reduction in non-binding arbitration of 99.92% of Plaintiffs demand amount.
Nima Ameri, Esq. of Ameri & Associates: “I am very happy a neutral non-binding arbiter saw the case for what it was. I believe conduct like this by attorneys is what hurts our field’s reputation and am glad my clients were able to see the justice system is greater than their bad experience with their former counsel.”
About Ameri & Associates.
Ameri & Associates is a leading full service New York and New Jersey law firm with expertise in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Corporate Law, Business Transaction Solutions, Intellectual Property Law, Personal Injury, Criminal Law and residential and commercial real estate transactions. For more information please visit http://amerilawfirm.com
WAYNE — Despite a statement read by Councilman Richard Jasterzbski that he would not step down from his council post, the council passed a vote of “no confidence” and requested the official’s resignation.The motion passed with five affirmative votes. Jasterzbski voted against the motion and Councilwomen Aileen Rivera and Lonni Miller Ryan abstained. Councilman James Jimenez was absent.
The vote followed comments from five councilmen condemning the language and events caught on tape of Jasterzbski arguing with a Passaic County Regular Republican Organization volunteer.
Jasterzbski’s statement read at the council meeting was punctuated by jeers and comments from the crowd of several dozen citizens present.
“I will first start by saying, unequivocally, without question that I will not be resigning from my position,” Jasterzbski said. “In fact, now more than ever I see why I need to be here fighting for my constituents and the integrity of the political process. This is not to say that I am proud of the allegations against me or the vocabulary that is alleged I used.”
Wednesday marked the first Wayne Township council meeting since a harassment complaint was filed against Jasterzbski stemming from the recorded expletive-laden tirade.
On June 4, the volunteer, Susan Enderly, a Wayne resident, was completing paperwork at the organization’s Wayne office when Jasterzbski, a Republican representing Ward 1, entered. The two argued about campaign signs that had been removed from a window at the PCRRO headquarters at 1220 Hamburg Tpk., according to police records.
In the video, recorded by Enderly and one of her daughters using cellphones, Jasterzbski is seen standing very close to Enderly, pointing at her while angrily making sexual comments and shouting expletives over five or six minutes.Both parties have obtained legal representation.
Jasterzbski’s lawyer, Nima Ameri, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon on behalf of his client:
“Mr. Jastrezbski does not condone the alleged dialogue that occurred, however he clearly cares about fairness and the political system,” read the statement. “The alleged exchange is a result of serious allegations of a candidate removing political signs of another candidate.”
The statement also said the councilman finds it “most disturbing” the video appears to be cut and claims Enderly’s comments were edited out.
According to the lawyer’s statement, Jasterzbski said the incident appears to be “staged” and that he was baited in retaliation to a fraud and conspiracy suit he filed against the PCRRO for a separate incident.
Enderly’s lawyer, Douglas Kinz, also issued a statement:
“The lewd and demeaning obscenities which were hurled at Ms. Enderly would be offensive enough if they came from a schoolyard bully. The fact that they were made by an elected public official in the presence of Ms. Enderly’s two daughters is unconscionable. The citizens of Wayne deserve better than to be represented by someone so shamelessly lacking in basic standards of civility and decency.”
He added the full video supplied to police was captured on two phones and about 10 minutes long, and news outlets may have edited any copy of it for brevity. Kinz said Enderly has nothing to do with Jasterzbski’s claim of unreimbursed money given to PCRRO, because at the time she was not an employee but a volunteer for the organization.
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Several other residents took to the podium to condemn Jasterzbski’s behavior shown in the video, including Ruth Hayden.
“I am a resident of the first ward and I don’t want you anymore,” said Haydengan in reference to the councilman’s previous comment that he will represent Ward 1 until “they don’t want me anymore.”
She along with other residents asked for Jasterzbski’s resignation and asked the council to take action if he would not. Those options failing, residents will take it upon themselves to petition and recall the councilman, she said.
Resident and gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brennan, who led an unsuccessful Democratic bid for governor on Tuesday, echoes her statements, adding he would lead a recall election and petition if necessary.
“You did not even apologize,” resident Beth Marmolejos said while addressing Jasterzbski. “That is the worst part of the whole thing. There is no remorse.”
Sen. Kevin O’Toole penned a letter to Jasterzbski requested his resignation, which was signed by 20 other Bergen and Passaic County Democrat and Republican senators and members of the Assembly.
“Your behavior in that video is not only unacceptable for any elected official, but your language towards a female volunteer is reprehensible for any person to use towards another,” the letter reads.
Mayor Chris Vergano, who Tuesday night secured the Republican party’s nomination in a contested primary, was among the first to issue a statement condemning Jasterzbski’s conduct and call for his resignation “immediately” from his council post and position in mayoral challenger Miller Ryan’s campaign.
He said he was “glad” the council took the “no confidence” vote and reiterated his request for the councilman’s resignation.
“This reprehensible, sexist, disgusting behavior is unacceptable for any decent person,” said Vergano in a statement issued Monday afternoon. County Clerk Kristin Corrado echoed the mayor’s statement, quoting him in her Facebook post, which also called for the councilman’s resignation.
Corrado prevailed in her own bid for the Republican nomination for State Senate Tuesday night.