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Litigation Fest

Litigation FestD&D Home loans at center of suits

December 7, 2006

By LISA D. BURDEN
WASHINGTON correspondent for MortgageDaily.com

A Virginia Beach borrower has filed a lawsuit against a mortgage broker, claiming he was deceived about refinancing his delinquent loan. Meanwhile, the broker has filed a lawsuit against a television station that aired the borrower’s allegations — claiming the station’s defaming coverage has severely cut into his business. And one attorney involved in the matter suggests more lawsuits are on the way.Michael Robinson, the co-owner of D and D Home Loans Inc. along with his wife, Valeria, filed suit last month in Virginia state court against television station WAVY-TV.

The Robinsons claim the television station defamed them and the mortgage company when it ran several promotions in advance of a news story about Darrell Salley’s attempt to refinance his home loan with Robinson’s company while facing foreclosure.

WAVY runs a news segment called “10 on Your Side” that highlights problems people claim they have had with local businesses. On Feb. 3, the station featured a story captioned “Stolen House?”

According to Robinson’s lawsuit, for several days prior to the actual airing of the story, the television station ran several “teaser” spots which stated, “See how easy it is for a mortgage company to steal your home” accompanied by a shot of Robinson.

Robinson said in court documents that WAVY is the top rated news program in Hampton Roads and reaches about 500,000 people.

The “Stolen House” story detailed Salley’s allegations that he was “hoodwinked” into signing over the deed to his house when he attempted to refinance the home in July 2005.

News Director Kathy Hostetter said the television stands by the merits of the story. She declined to comment any further.

But Salley claimed in court documents that when he attempted the refinance, he was paired up with what he termed a “D and D private investor” who loaned Salley $5,000 payable in 30 days for which Salley signed a promissory note agreeing to pay $11,000. Salley said Robinson’s company informed him the day before closing that they could not obtain financing for him and that the $11,000 was due.

In court papers, Salley said he signed several documents including a “deed of gift” for the title to his house.

In a telephone interview with MortgageDaily.com, Salley’s attorney, Tanya Bullock, said Salley, unfamiliar with the refinance process, was probably unaware that he had signed the house over to the investor.

But Robinson is skeptical the borrower did not understand the significance of the documents he signed, pointing out that he is an educated man who works in the medical field. Bullock confirmed that Salley is a physician’s assistant who has attended medical school and hopes to become a doctor.

The mortgage broker said in a telephone interview that Salley’s credit was not strong enough to get approval for the loan.

He also said Salley provided “questionable documents” in support of his loan application and provided “inconsistencies” on his 1003 form.

For example, Salley claimed five dependents on his tax returns but admitted during depositions he has no children and does not have any custodial rights over any children, Robinson said.

Bullock said she didn’t recall Salley being asked about five dependents. She said Salley explained he was taking care of an ailing uncle that he claimed as a dependent.

The borrower’s attorney confirmed they had “terrible credit” and had unsuccessfully attempted to declare bankruptcy — noting Salley fell behind on the house payments after an illness prevented him from working.

Bullock does not believe the borrower’s loan was presented to any lenders, adding none of the banks Robinson named for information on the loan have a record of the transaction. She also said Salley did not receive any denial letters from the banks allegedly involved.

Robinson said the investor did not foreclose on the house and reversed the recording the deed at Salley’s request. He explained that the investor only recorded the deed after finding out that Salley was attempting to “sell the security out from under him” to another third-party.

The borrower found out about the recording of the deed during an attempt to refinance, his attorney said.

The deed of gift has turned out to be another point of contention.

Salley reported Robinson to the Virginia bar association for unauthorized practice of law for allegedly preparing the deed for the investor. Bullock said that after the filing of criminal charges on the matter, Robinson was put on two years probation. Robinson said his company has since entered into a joint ownership with a title company.

Now Robinson and Salley are making their accusations in court.

Last month, Robinson filed the suit against the television station, the station’s owner, the reporter who filed the report and the news editor who allowed the story to be aired. Robinson claims his company has lost 40 percent of its business and that customers walked away from the closing table upon the airing of the story.

Bullock represents Salley in his lawsuit against Robinson’s company for fraud and breach of contract. Salley has asked for $368 in compensatory damages and punitive damages of $350,000 as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Last week, a Virginia state judge refused to dismiss Salley’s lawsuit and granted him permission to upwardly adjust his requested damages.

And Robinson can expect to see more of Bullock in court. She is preparing lawsuits on behalf of several people who claim they have been victims of D and D’s business practices. She has also contacted Virginia’s state legislators to initiate action against companies who promise to help people in foreclosure but actually prey upon them.

Salley still lives at the house.

“I sleep well at night,” Robinson said about his mortgage company’s practices.


Lisa D. Burden is a legal analyst for MortgageDaily.com and holds a law degree from the University of Maryland. She is currently a freelance journalist who previously wrote for Institutional Investor publications and the Baltimore Daily Record.

e-mail Lisa at: burdenlisa@yahoo.com

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