Eric Wolff has done a good job covering the story about Michael Pines, the foreclosure-chasing attorney. Here’s a link to the initial story about former owners breaking into their old home in Escondido on Tuesday:
Here is how it’s unraveling:
Encinitas attorney Michael T. Pines advised the two families that their houses had been foreclosed through fraud and that they should take them back, which the families did.
A day later, representatives of ERA Property Movers in Escondido, the real estate agency selling the house for the lender, returned to the Kimball Street house armed with documents showing their client had ownership, said Carollynn Holemo, manager of the Escondido office.
She discovered that the previous owners, the Rocha family, hadn’t moved anything in.
“It went smoothly,” Holemo said. “They didn’t lock the house. All we did was resecure the house.”
ERA Property Movers had a locksmith rekey the lock, and agents checked the house twice a day to see if the Rochas returned. Eva Rocha said she knew the agents had been back to the house when she saw their “For Sale” sign restored to its position in the front yard, but she didn’t even try the doors.
“I haven’t worried about it right now,” Rocha said. “(Pines is) probably going to tell me to change the locks, but I don’t want to play that back-and-forth game. I’m waiting for him to take care of it.”
That is indeed the advice Pines gave to another client, the Earl family of Simi Valley; the Earls also broke into their foreclosed house last week. When a judge on Friday gave the lender a new writ of eviction, Pines promised that within an hour of being thrown out, the family would return, Pines said in a later interview.
Meanwhile, the other family that broke into a foreclosed home Tuesday in Escondido, the Bolanoses, said it had heard nothing from real estate agents or their property’s putative owners.
On Wednesday, Emiliano Bolanos swept the driveway and did some gardening, while his wife, Gloria, scrubbed the kitchen. The pair remained nervous, and hadn’t moved the family back into the house as of Friday afternoon.
“We’re a little worried,” Emiliano said. “We don’t know what they’re going to do.”
In this story, other attorneys are questioning the tactics of Mr. Pines:
Even if the laws could be applied, the result would not mean returning the homes to people who hadn’t been paying their mortgages. “It’s not like you get a free house. It’s never been ‘You get a free house,’” said Deborah Raymond, a Del Mar real estate attorney.
“I think he’s advising a Wild West mentality of handling cases,” said D.W. Duke, a Temecula real estate attorney. “I don’t think that’s the way attorneys should practice law. I think we have laws, and we have civil remedies through the courts for a reason.”