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Pitchfork Watch: Couple Charged With Torturing Suspected Mortgage Fraudsters

We’ve been waiting for vigilante justice to start against those who profited from the financial crisis, but it should have occurred to us that it would be the foot soldiers, not the kingpins, who’d be the prime targets.

From Reuters (hat tip reader John D):

As Los Angeles housing advocates launched a campaign warning of mortgage rescue scams, a couple hit by foreclosure are charged with torturing two loan-modification agents they suspected of fraud, authorities said on Monday.

The couple, Daniel Weston and Mary Ann Parmelee, and three other people are accused of luring their two victims to an office where the men were tied up, held for hours and beaten, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney said.

Police were called after one of the victims managed to escape, said the spokeswoman, Shiara Davila-Morales. The incident occurred on Wednesday in the town of Glendale, just north of Los Angeles.

Weston, Parmelee and the three other defendants each were charged with two counts of torture, two counts of false imprisonment by violence and two counts of second-degree robbery, according to a criminal complaint filed against them….

“The two allegedly sought loan modification assistance from the victims but believed that nothing was being done and wanted their money back,” a statement from the district attorney’s office said….

Weston and another man, who previously served time for assault, are accused of carrying out the beatings in front of their three co-defendants, who prosecutors say had prior business ties with the two victims by having funneled loan-modification referrals to them.

Now the real question is whether this couple had actually sought advice, or whether they thought they had been cheated on their referral fees, and got aggressive in their collection methods, and the claim that they were cheated clients is to attempt at a better sounding justification for their actions. Either way, it speaks to a sordid underground in the mortgage arena.

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15 comments

  1. Skippy

    Really now! How much difference is there between the Drug Enterprises and Mortgage Pushers of all stripes refi et al now…eh.

    Vinny do your job and ref some studies on drug cultures, been along time for me k.

    Skippy…the front is wall st vigilantes OK not the corner dealers.

  2. i on the ball patriot

    When the scam ‘rule of law’ fails to provide justice, self preservation kicks in. Given the lack of real reform it sure makes the intentional ‘Perpetual Conflict’ ‘conspiracy’ look stronger each day,

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  3. Seal

    a comment from HuffPo:

    It could have been a lot worse for the loansharks.
    The couple could have “encouraged” them to sign on a subprime ARM loan and given them some credit cards at a very low introductory rate..

  4. John M

    How long will it be before the thieves and their masters suffer extreme justice? When French society fell apart in the latter part of the 18th Century, the ruling class and any one else who raised a voice got swiftly and humanely guillotined. The American version is a necktie party using strong rope and a tree. So, which stout trees will the wealthy thieves who didn’t come by their wealth honestly be found hanging out at one of these days? The only problem is that mob justice doesn’t discriminate between innocence and guilt. It’s more the perception of guilt by the mob. The victim is usually at the wrong place at the wrong time or associating with the wrong crowd.

  5. Bk atty

    The mortgage lenders got into bed with many, many mortgage brokers who were street criminals. I worked on a bankruptcy case on behalf of Mexican immigrants who got scammed by one of these guys — they thought they were only taking home equity loans, but he was transferring title to his mother. In between then, and when the foreclosures started, the broker was convicted of first degree murder in a murder-for-hire scheme.

    In order to keep the flow of inventory the lenders needed people willing to commit crimes — fraudulent applications, etc., and they found them. It shocks me that the lenders are able to walk away after getting into bed with every single sleazebag imaginable.

  6. DownSouth

    Many years ago I worked on the campaign of a Hispanic judicial candidate in San Antonio, and I remember very well how he put it: “When you don’t get justice in the courts, you get street justice.”

    And what is left of “justice” in America? How can there be any justice when the social contract that forms the heart and soul of the nation lies in shambles?

    The American republic rests on the power of the people—the old Roman potestas in populo–and power granted to the authorities is delegated power, which can be revoked. That is the social contract the American people agreed to.

    But the ruling class in the United States wants to unilaterally change things, to impose a new social contract. The new social contract is a throwback to the old Biblical covenant, by virtue of which the people consented to obey whatever laws an all-powerful divinity might choose to reveal to it. But there’s a new twist, and that is that God has now been replaced by scientists—economists—who divine the abiding truths that the people are to obey.

    But the people aren’t going for it, as a recent Rasmussen poll reveals:

    ► 57% would like to replace the entire Congress

    ► If they could vote to keep or replace the entire Congress, just 25% of voters nationwide would keep the current batch of legislators…

    Overall, these numbers are little changed since last October. When Congress was passing the unpopular $700-billion bailout plan in the heat of a presidential campaign and a seeming financial industry meltdown, 59% wanted to throw them all out. At that time, just 17% wanted to keep them…

    ► Today, 70% of those not affiliated with either major party would vote to replace all of the elected politicians in the House and Senate. That’s up from 62% last year…

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/august_2009/57_would_like_to_replace_entire_congress

    So it appears a showdown between the government and the people is eminent. And when the people implement justice the result is street justice. And yes, a lot of innocent people do get hurt.

    But will street justice harm any more people than what are currently being harmed by the “justice” being administered by the ruling class?

    An unfortunate reality of politics is that abuse begets abuse.

  7. EmilianoZ

    If the government is captured and representative democracy no longer working, vigilante justice does seem to be the last recourse.

  8. Nick von Mises

    This wording is odd:

    “The two allegedly sought loan modification assistance from the victims but believed that nothing was being done and wanted their money back,” a statement from the district attorney’s office said….

    Their money back?

    Did they pay some fee and get defrauded, or are they operating under the same mentality as a burglar, where he has mentally completed the property transfer of “your laptop” to “his laptop” before breaking into your house, and would thus be outraged if he wasn’t allowed to leave with it.

    I suspect the former, but it’s not clear to me.

  9. Cheryl

    There is a new standard …in the past, people complied with the law and expected there would be justice ….Today generally people’s worldview is that it depends on the situation and what I decide is right for me… this coupled with the fact that justice has not been provided for all the fraud that has occurred could spell real trouble for this country when the sedative of unemployment benefits runs out and given the 29% increase in income for those few at the top of the pyramid….It’s been said where there is no justice, there is anarchy….expect it…you can’t expect to see people sit by as they lose their jobs(as Corp Am moves overseas), no real jobs programs, no representation in government….as other fallen empires, so goes America

  10. Hazel Motes

    The irony, of course, is that the couple is charged with torture, which appears to be very well defined in the civil code. Not so much elsewhere, such as in various Wars, Gitmo, and anything done by Bushco.

  11. Ron from Colorado

    So a few hours of “beatings” qualifies as torture with the serious prospect of jail time, but we dither over how to react to what the US goverment did to many “enemy combatant” detainees who were released as innocents?

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