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Attorneys George Castrataro and Arthur Smith collaborated in a group panel on Asset Protection. The panel organized by Our Fund was “a great opportunity to offer community education while collaborating with Our Fund, said Castrataro. Our Fund is quickly growing to become a key source of leadership and community support, further offered Castrataro.
As found in the Sun Sentinel.
Bankruptcy filings fall in South Florida
Fewer South Florida residents filed for bankruptcy in July, the fourth straight month of declining bankruptcies and an 18 percent drop from a year ago.
There were 2,173 filings in the tri-county area compared with 2,654 in July 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Miami said Wednesday.
Lawyers say struggling homeowners are putting off bankruptcy in hopes of saving their home through a loan modification or getting rid of it through a short sale.
Bankruptcy filings for July decreased 3.5 percent from June, when 2,252 consumers filed bankruptcy.
Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyer George Castrataro said bankruptcies may be slowing because struggling homeowners are waiting for a possible short sale — unloading the homes for less than the mortgage amount. Others who haven’t been able to reduce their mortgage rates are looking to the prospect of mediation to get their loans modified, he said.
Bankruptcy filings tend to follow foreclosures, which were in a bottleneck as major lenders reviewed possible paperwork errors. But there could be a new wave of foreclosures as lenders finally take action against homeowners in default, he said.
That’s prompting local judges to take a closer look at mediation. If South Florida judges agree on a resolution, mediation could be an option for homeowners by year-end, he said.
“That’s rescuing a lot of people. They’ll contact us and say we’re not going to go through with this anymore because the bank approved us,” he said.
Cohen also said more debtors seem to be tightening their belts, reducing credit card and other debt to avoid bankruptcy.
In July, bankruptcies ticked up in Palm Beach County with 371 filings compared to 331 in June. But filings fell in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to 655 and 1,147, respectively.
Please join the staff of the Law Offices of George Castrataro, PA along with our friends at Lyons, Snyder & Collin, PA, and Michael Albetta for a meet and greet with Sheriff Al Lamberti.
Date: June 8, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 7:30PM
Location: Rosie’s Bar and Grill
Address: 2449 Wilton Drive Wilton Manors, FL 33305
Sheriff Al Lamberti is a 34-year veteran of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
He began his career in the Department of Detention. After transferring to road patrol, Sheriff Lamberti worked his way through the ranks, eventually serving as a captain in the Organized Crime Division. He then assumed his position as District Chief in Deerfield Beach in January 1990.
After his promotion to Major, Sheriff Lamberti served as Interim Police Chief for the City of Hollywood and North Lauderdale. Soon after, he served as Director of the Training and Organizational Development Division where he oversaw the Center for Advanced Criminal Justice Studies Executive Leadership Program, as well as all day-to-day training functions.
When Sheriff Lamberti returned to the Department of Law Enforcement, he assumed command of the South Patrol Region, which includes Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport post-September 11th.
A graduate of the 167th Session of the F.B.I. National Academy, Sheriff Lamberti served as President of the Florida Chapter of the F.B.I National Academy Associates in 2004. He served as President of the Broward Sheriff’s FOP Lodge #32 from 1984 – 1985. Additionally, he was the Chairman of the Regional Coordinating Team of the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council for the Southeast Region from 1999 to 2007. In early 2009, Sheriff Lamberti was named chairman of the Region 7 Gang Reduction Task Force by the Attorney General.
Married to Holly for 19 years, he has one son, Nicholas, and two step-children, Jaime and David.
In September 2007, Sheriff Lamberti was appointed Broward Sheriff by Governor Charlie Crist. In November 2008, he was elected by the citizens of Broward County to serve
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO A MEET & GREET FUNDRAISER FOR BROWARD COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY MICHAEL J. SATZ!
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1620 North Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
Wednesday May 9, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
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Please Join Us To Meet, Greet, and Raise Funds
Al Lamberti, Broward County’s Sheriff
Creator and leader of the BSO Hate Crimes/Anti-bias Task Force
Date: April 18, 2012
Time: 5:30 – 7:30PM
Location: J. Marks Restaurant, 1245 North Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
HOSTED BY: The Law Offices of George Castrataro, PA & GLBT Alliance
Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A.
Lea Kraus, Esq., P.A.
J. Marks Restaurant
For more information, please call 954-573-1444. RSVP not required!
Friday March 23, 2012 – Mortgage Heartburn
Banks stall on foreclosures, courts overwhelmed, attorneys say -
South Florida Business Journal by Paul Brinkmann
There is some anxiety these days about the damage to Florida’s massive foreclosure backlog as a result of court budget cuts.
For example, Palm Beach County Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock recently said that budget cuts will slow down her ability to process new foreclosure cases, further bogging down a system already clogged by thousands of foreclosures.
But there is another factor many attorneys say is more important: inaction by banks on stalled foreclosure cases.
“The backlog of cases is going to be a problem until the courts are funded properly. I would put a lot of the blame on court funding,” said Tom Ice, a foreclosure defense attorney in Boca Raton. “My biggest frustration is not getting answers. When I have a client who actually has money to put down and cut a deal with a bank, I can’t get answers about whether they will accept an offer or not.”
Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the national Mortgage Bankers Association, recently told NPR that local markets can be damaged by foreclosure backlogs.
“We’re really seeing it’s not so much a national problem,” Brinkmann said. “It’s an Illinois problem. It’s a Florida problem. It’s a New Jersey problem.” He said the backlog creates a lack of certainty for potential homebuyers because they worry about a flood of foreclosed homes hitting the market.
On one hand, Ice said, banks seem to be avoiding a big push on foreclosures because they know a flood of homes for sale will depress the market.
But he acknowledged that staying in foreclosure can be costly to banks and to homeowners. He said his clients are usually committed to basic maintenance if they have reason to hope they will stay in the home.
“The banks, I would suggest, don’t really want to push this through,” Ice said. “Banks are manipulating this backlog. They know if they dump all these houses on the market, the price they will get is going to go down.”
Ice’s firm, Ice Legal, handled a case for homeowner Roman Pino, which is pending in front of the Florida Supreme Court.
Bank of New York Mellon foreclosed on Pino, but the bank was shown to have false documents about the mortgage, “robo-signed” by Plantation attorney David Stern’s firm, which is now out of business. The bank withdrew the case, but Ice Legal filed to reopen the case so Ice could take depositions and possibly seek sanctions. Two lower courts denied the request to reopen the case. Ice appealed to the Supreme Court. At that point, the bank reached confidential settlement with Pino.
But the Supreme Court ordered the attorneys to present the case anyway so it could hear arguments.
Should courts care about economy?
Ice said the economy should not be the court’s top concern.
“It’s not the court’s concern that the economy might be affected by this; the court’s concern should be due process and administration of justice,” he said. Otherwise, the integrity of property ownership rights and records is compromised, he said.
In fact, attorneys have said that title companies are reluctant to insure properties that have been caught in the robo-signing scandal until greater clarity is provided.
The Florida Legislature has authorized $400 million for courts to hire part-time judges to help with the backlog, but that is $200 million less than the last appropriation, and comes as clerk’s offices have suffered budget cuts.
George Castrataro, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who handles foreclosure and bankruptcy, said recent upticks in foreclosure volume will be dwarfed by what is coming.
Castrataro pointed out that national settlements with banks on robo-signing allegations will feed the pipeline, and Florida’s delinquency rate on mortgages has grown.
“There are hundreds of cases where there hasn’t been any activity for longer than 400 or 500 days,” he said.
Castrataro said one new tactic for him is filing actions against lenders seeking to enforce temporary modification agreements. The homeowner makes payments thinking there will be a final agreement, but the bank often stalls further or forecloses anyway, he said.
“We’re saying the lender engaged in modification, but didn’t resolve it in a timely manner,” he said. “We’ve had some fees paid, or settlement on some terms.”
Castrataro said it is not clear to him if banks “want the delay or if they just can’t get their act together.”
One thing is for sure, Ice said: Clients can’t stay in limbo forever.
“We lose a lot of clients who just give up,” he said. “It’s too stressful, and they tell me, ‘I need to get on with my life.’ I’ve even had clients drop out who have very good defenses.”
Oral arguments in the Pino case are set for May 10. Amanda Lundergan, an attorney with Ice Legal, will argue the homeowner’s side.
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George Castrataro Receives Highest Rating from Martindale-Hubbell® in Bankruptcy, Litigation and General PracticeTuesday, March 6th, 2012
George Castrataro has been rated AV – Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell®. AV – Preeminent is the highest and most significant rating accomplishment. The rating is a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
The General Ethical Standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. Those lawyers who meet the “Very High” criteria of General Ethical Standards can proceed to the next step in the ratings process – Legal Ability.