Please help my family! Save them from fraudulent repossession of their home. A home that they've invested in for over 25 years!. For further information please look at the article below
Earlier this month, Salvanita and Moses Foster got a phone call. Someone was changing the locks on the Bed Stuy home they purchased in 1999 and had lived in until a 2019 fire. Their possessions were being thrown from the windows into the trash, the neighbor said. They raced over to the house at 470 Willoughby Avenue on Monday, November 7 to find men discarding their most personal items, including passports and family photographs. “My stuff is gone, all my documents, all the important things, my furniture, everything is gone,” Salvanita said Thursday, November 10, as neighbors gathered outside the house in a show of support for the couple and their son, Vernon. “When we came and saw them throwing out the stuff we said what is this, nobody told us nothing, nobody said we had to come and get our stuff or the building was sold, nothing. We didn’t know what to do.”
The house at 470 Willoughby Avenue has been boarded up since a 2019 fire. Although the family wasn’t living in the house at the time, Salvanita said, it is still their home. She and Moses said they called the police five times to report what was happening, but no one turned up. “We stayed here for hours. We were here from 2:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. We went to vote and came back waiting still for the police,” Salvanita said. All they could do was watch.
According to the Fosters, the men who were throwing out their belongings said they’d been directed by a person who claimed to be the owner of the house to clear out everything. But in the Fosters’ eyes, the house belongs to them. Foreclosure rescue schemeThe incident follows a twisting 14-year-long legal battle the Fosters have been in to reclaim their home after they were, according to the couple, victims of a foreclosure rescue scheme.
It is a story all too common in predominantly Black neighborhoods such as Bed Stuy, especially for elderly homeowners and immigrant families.
In 2006, the family was at risk of foreclosure after falling behind on mortgage payments and allegedly sought the help of a mortgage broker named Roy Pembroke who promised to help the family keep their home, according to an affidavit by Salvanita. “We moved from the Virgin Islands and as American citizens we wanted to get our own home. We did everything by the book,” Salvanita said.
Over the years, she said, they fell behind on payments raising two sons and having some tenants in arrears. “The gentleman who came here he said he was going to do a refinance.”Instead, Pembroke had the deed transferred to “straw buyer” Jeanette Bowles, and immediately had Bowles take out two mortgages totaling $831,725 against the house. Bowles agreed to reconvey the house back to the Fosters after one year, Salvanita said. Salvanita alleges Bowles received a $10,000 check at the closing, and the Fosters were given $67,000 to do needed repairs on the house. But at the end of the year, or any of the years following, the house was not transferred back to the Fosters. “She never came to this house. She never paid a mortgage. She never pay a bill, never pay the taxes, she never pay the gas bill. We do everything, everything concerning the property,” Salvanita said.
In 2008, the Fosters filed a lawsuit against Bowles, Pembroke, the mortgage holders and others accusing them of fraud. Meanwhile, that same year, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, which was servicing Bowles’ loan, filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Bowles for failing to make mortgage payments.
The Fosters have been in court trying to reclaim ownership of the house since 2008Bowles claims in court filings it was not just the Fosters who were victims in the scheme; she alleges she too was duped by Pembroke. Bowles says in 2006 Pembroke held a series of meetings at her church in Poughkeepsie explaining how to help people save their homes from foreclosure, and she agreed to help a family by signing a loan application and closing with Pembroke’s guidance. Despite being a widow whose annual income was a limited pension through her deceased husband’s employer, social security benefits and some interest income, Bowles “somehow was approved for loans totaling $831,725.00 to purchase property in Brooklyn,” a court document reads. Bowles says in the filings she was told she would not have to make any payments on the loan, which the Fosters would be responsible for, and she would sell the property back to them a year later — helping them save their home. She also alleges that a lawyer for the lender made several payments from the loan to Pembroke International LLC for $20,000 and to Countrywide Holdings LLC for $81,700. (Now part of Bank of America, Countrywide played a prominent role in the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.)
Brownstoner reached out to Bowles and Pembroke for comment but did not get a response. A contract canceled in late 2013, after years litigating the fraud allegations — while the Fosters say they continued to live in the home, rent out apartments in it and make payments on the house — the Fosters and Bowles agreed to settle the lawsuit through a short sale process where the Fosters would buy the house back for $640,000.
In 2014, Salvanita alleges, she and Moses got a call from an agent at Century 21 who said he heard they were struggling with getting a loan and that he knew someone who could help. He introduced the couple to Mendy Segal.Segal allegedly told the Fosters he could help them save money by getting a short sale approval for a cheaper price, but allegedly said they had to drop the fraud lawsuit against Bowles to get approved by the lender. “Moses and I foolishly, without the benefit of our counsel, signed a stipulation of discontinuance with prejudice,” she said. Bowles then fired her lawyer who had been working on the short sale and hired Moshe Mortner at the advice of Segal who abruptly terminated the contract of sale, Salvanita alleges. She alleges this was done so Segal could buy the property himself. Around the same time, one of Bowles’ mortgages on the house was paid off, records filed with the city only this week show.
In legal filings, Segal said “providing a legal referral or having an intention to buy the subject property are not sufficient allegations of tortious interference in contract” and “the claim that Attorney Mortner was ‘under the direction’ of Segal is mere speculation.” Bowles claims she hired Mortner because her previous lawyer was not passing on required information, documents show.
In 2018, Segal won a lawsuit in which the Fosters accused him of interfering with the contract, with Kings County Supreme Court Judge Karen Rothenberg writing the Fosters “failed to allege Segal intentionally procured Bowles’ breach of the contract.” She also ruled Bowles did not violate the contract of sale by cancelling it, as the Fosters did not secure a loan to take over the house. Segal told Brownstoner the Fosters had made numerous false allegations about him, and he hadn’t had anything to do with the property for years.470 willoughby avenue exterior. The vacate notice from the 2019 fire is still on the doorNot just one home lost. Meanwhile, Salvanita was also struggling to keep up with the mortgage on a second home at 670 Greene Avenue and Segal allegedly convinced her to transfer the deed to a friend to secure a loan modification, court documents say. Segal — who, according to affidavits from numerous people, goes by the names Mandy Segal, Mendi Segal, Menachem Segal, Joe Siegel, Mendy Siegel, Manny Freeman, Yosef Friedman, Joe Friedman and Mendy Friedman under companies Luba NY or TMax Realty — allegedly then got the friend to transfer the house to an LLC he set up for $4,900 under the guise of a refinance.
City documents show the deed was transferred to 670 Greene Holdings LLC for $4,900 in May 2014. There is no name listed with the LLC in Acris, but company records say Menachem Segal is the CEO. Segal said he couldn’t comment on the situation due to ongoing litigation.Salvanita and Francis have been in a legal battle to reclaim the house from the LLC since, which has run side by side with the legal battles over 470 Willoughby.
Salvanita said the fights have left her more than $100,000 out of pocket in legal fees and have drained her 401K, which she said she needed this year after having a stroke and becoming bed ridden.“I’ve been to so many people, I write letters, I do everything. I tried everything that I can to get assistance and to get help and never get no help. All we’re doing is spending. I’ve spent my whole savings, right down to my 401K that I should have now because I took sick and I had a stroke. And I spent right down to my last bit trying to get help,” Salvanita said through tears at the rally.Moses added: “I go to everybody. I go to the congressman, I go to everybody that you can talk to and I’m just crying out for help. I’m crying, I’m crying out for help.”
On November 1, 470 Willoughby was transferred from Bowles to 470 WBY Realty LLC for $1.5 million, signed for by Herman Silberstein. Just 10 days later, the Fosters were standing outside the house calling the police as their belongings were being trashed, locks were being changed and a security camera was installed on the home.“This is what they do, go along and prey on people they think do not have a backbone or what have you, but it’s wrong it’s got to change and you got to stop and you got to stop now,” Moses said. “I work tirelessly like everyone else to have the American dreams, day and night I work, sweat, over time to achieve my goals. My kids grew up here in this house from babies. I raised them."