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About Mike Dillon

My story is long but unfortunately not unlike thousands of others you might hear if the media was paying attention. In 2001, in order to consolidate some debt, I refinanced my two-family home in New Hampshire that I had purchased just a few short years before. Due to having less than perfect credit, my mortgage broker got me into an ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) and assured me that if I made good on the loan, I could refinance out of it before the rate changed. Like most people sitting down at the closing table, I signed and initialed the mounds of paperwork the title company put before me without reading each and every line. To tell you all of my story would take volumes, so, I hope to hit the highlights here.

Before I can go forward with the story, I need to explain a few things that I did not know at the time when my mortgage problems first began to surface in 2002. When I refinanced my home in March of 2001, it was with a company called Superior Bank FSB. Within days of closing my loan, Superior Bank sold the loan to Merrill Lynch Mortgage Capital but Superior retained the servicing rights to my loan (making them a "mortgage servicer"). This is not something out of the ordinary, loans and the servicing rights to loan are bought and sold all the time. In June of 2001, the Office of Thrift Supervision closed Superior Bank and named the FDIC as receiver. As a result of this, the servicing rights to my loan were sold to a company called Fairbanks Capital Corp. I didn't learn any of this until 2003, I was never aware that Superior Bank had sold my note to Merrill Lynch. This is not uncommon, as most mortgage contracts do not call for the borrower to be notified of a sale UNLESS that sale alters whom and where monthly payments are made.

In a letter dated October 8, 2001, a company called Fairbanks Capital informed me that they had sent me a "welcome letter" advising me that they had acquired the servicing rights to my loan as of October 1, 2001 and that the loan was in arrears by two months of payments. As I had already sent October's payment to Superior Bank, I called this new company to ask what was going on and alert them to the fact that I had already sent my payment to Superior Bank. I was instructed to cancel the check and make a new payment to them. Eight days later, on October 16, Fairbanks drafted another letter informing me that they had acquired the servicing rights to my loan. This second letter, dated eight days from the first, was the "welcome letter" the October 8th letter refers to.

For the rest of 2001, I continued to make my payments to Fairbanks, never realizing that they never sent me my monthly mortgage payment coupon on time (meaning I was never given the opportunity to make my payment on time). During 2001 they also requested proof of my homeowner's insurance, which I provided to them several times.

My mortgage problems first became apparent in 2002 when I fell behind in my mortgage payments due to a lack of work caused by 9/11. Because I had been unable to secure all of my regular work as a free-lance stage technician in the months following 9/11 (security concerns had caused shows to go dark, events to be cancelled and other jobs became unprofitable due to related circumstances), I had not been able to make the kind of money I had been able to in the past. After missing two months of payments, I was finally able to get caught up and sent them a huge check to cover 3 months of regular payments and 2 late fees. Shortly after this, I received a notification directly from Fairbanks that they were going to foreclosure on my home.

I spent several exhausting weeks trying to resolve this issue via telephone. Each time I called Fairbanks to find out how much additional money I supposedly owed, I got a different customer service rep on the phone and each of them would give me a different dollar amount and no one would provide me with anything in writing. To add insult to injury, when I would ask to speak to a supervisor, I was sworn at, called names and often times hung up on. Finally in June, not knowing what else to do, I made a formal complaint about Fairbanks to the New Hampshire Banking Commission. Twenty-three days later, I received a notice to foreclose from Thomas Santolucito, Esq. of Harmon Law Offices, P.C. on behalf of Merrill Lynch. This single action would cause the following years of my life to be a living hell. That same month, Fairbanks began to refuse the monthly mortgage payments I would send in.

It's important to note that at the time I received this initial notification from Attorney Santolucito at Harmon Law Offices, I had no idea why Merrill Lynch was trying to foreclose, as to the best of my knowledge, Merrill Lynch had nothing to do with my mortgage. To make matters worse, Harmon Law Offices was sending a duplicate copy of this letter to the two-family rental property next door to my house, a building I have never owned or lived in. Per the "instruction" on the letter, I wrote Attorney Santolucito a letter disputing the foreclosure based on the fact that (again, to the best of my knowledge at that time) I didn't have a loan with Merrill Lynch, nor had I ever had a loan with Merrill Lynch. Additionally, I asked for all information pertaining to this issue and informed him to stop sending mail to property next door to me. I also telephoned Attorney Santolucito several times over the course of multiple months when I never received anything from his office pertaining to my request. Over the telephone he would tell me that he and his firm were representing Fairbanks, not Merrill Lynch but he would not provide me with anything in writing. Furthermore, at one point, he actually had the audacity to ask me to provide him with copies of anything his client had been sending me. At this point, I felt I had no choice but to rely on the assistance of the New Hampshire Banking Commission.

I spent the remainder of 2002 and most of 2003 hoping this issue would resolve itself with the help of the NH Banking Commission and living under constant fear of the foreclosure looming over my head. The Banking Department had reached a written agreement with Fairbanks whereby they would voluntarily place the foreclosure on hold until such a time as the matter was "resolved and addressed" in November of 2002 (eight months after it all started). Fairbanks by and through their lawyers played games with both myself and the Banking Commission throughout this time period. It became clear to me that I needed an attorney, however since I couldn't really explain what happened, I couldn't get a lawyer interested in taking my case. I eventually hired a mortgage analyst (who later turned out to be a huge thorn in my side by having unauthorized ex-parte communications with Harmon Law Office's David Rosen, Esq. regarding my case shortly before trial) to look at my loan. The mortgage analyst's report was the tool I needed to understand what exactly Fairbanks did to my loan.

From the day they received the servicing rights to the loan, Fairbanks manipulated the accounting of my loan to make it appear as if I was always in default no matter how much money I paid them. They placed forced-place insurance on my property, even though I already had my own coverage. They charged me for collection letters (Western Union mailers that looked like junk mail and later became notable by Justice Abramson in her Order on The Merits), property inspections, late fees, undisclosed charges, Brokers Price Opinions, interest on advances and multiple other fees, all either not actually owed to them, illegal under State or Federal Law to charge for and/or in violation of the terms of my note and mortgage. Add to the fact that they never gave me the opportunity to make a regular monthly mortgage payment on time by failing to mail out my monthly mortgage statements in a timely manner and I never had a fighting chance from day one.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Fairbanks and their lawyers were merciless. They sent someone to my home to inform the tenant that the house was under foreclosure and that they needed to move out even though foreclosure proceedings hadn't actually begun. Needless to say, despite my best efforts to assure him that he was not in jeopardy of losing his place to live, not only did the tenant move out, he trashed the apartment in retaliation. They sent people to leave videotapes at my house and on one occasion, someone left a hangtag on my front door with a 2" wide note through the mail slot when I wasn't home. No matter how many requests the Banking Department sent them for information, they always replied with a thick stack of papers that made no sense to anyone. I reached out to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office, Federal Trade Commission, HUD, New Hampshire Senators, the OTS, and even then New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson. Either they could not help me or would not help me and again was on my own to save my home for this illegal foreclosure attempt. 

In December of 2003, I finally found a lawyer to take my case. I felt a sense of relief that turned out to be short-lived because on December 23, 2003, two days before Christmas, Victor Manougian, Esq. of Harmon Law Offices sent out another letter of intent to foreclose on my home. Shortly after the first of the New Year my then attorney filed an Ex-Parte Motion, naming Fairbanks, Harmon Law Offices, Merrill Lynch and LaSalle Bank as Defendants with the Superior Court asking them to enjoin the foreclosure sale. Presiding Justice James Barry Jr. issued a temporary restraining order preventing the sale pending further hearing.

Despite this restraining order, I would get regular letters from Harmon Law Offices informing me that the date of the foreclosure sale had been pushed out to accommodate court dates scheduled. Harmon Law Offices played dirty pool, just like their clients Fairbanks. Even a court order could not protect me from their games. In May 2004, after a brief hearing, The Honorable Justice Abramson issued another order firmly granting me the injunction I sought until trial. In her order, she made it clear that we had met our burden by a "preponderance of the evidence". Despite this, Fairbanks and their attorney continued their practice of harassing behavior and made no true effort to settle the case.

Shortly before the trial was scheduled, my then attorney had a sudden change of heart about Harmon Law Offices and their client Fairbanks. They had made another of what they called offers to settle this matter (me paying them roughly $30,000.00 more than I originally borrowed, plus all the fees they piled on) and my attorney told me that I should take the deal because it meant this would be over and things could go back to normal. I asked her why I should trust such a deal and she told me that Harmon Law Offices had put a new lawyer from their firm on the case and this she had gone to school with this guy and that he could be trusted. Needless to say, the relationship between myself, and my lawyer broke down and was irreparable.

In the midst of my own Fairbanks horror, the Federal Trade Commission, along with HUD and a class of homeowners like myself sued Fairbanks in Federal Court in Boston. There was a settlement agreement reached, a settlement which, if you were to ask me, benefited the lawyers more than the victims. Because this settlement would not prevent Fairbanks from taking my home and on the advice of counsel, I opted out of the settlement. Despite the fact that Fairbanks changed its name to Select Portfolio Servicing (they claimed to reflect the new way they were going to do business), the class settlement and the best practices agreement they signed with the FTC, when it came to my loan, it was business as usual. Nothing changed for me at all.

In October of 2004 the Judge ordered us to mediation. Despite the best efforts of myself, my counsel and the mediator, and the fact that only Attorney Vivieros from Harmon showed up (nope, no one from Fairbanks was present the day of mediation), no agreement could be reached. At that time, all I was asking for was the clock be turned back and for me to be allowed to resume making payments, that my credit report be repaired and that all the erroneous fees and charges be removed from my loan. Not only would Harmon/Fairbanks not budge on any single issue, Attorney Vivieros suggested that it would be illegal for Fairbanks to change the information that Fairbanks had reported to the credit bureaus.

I finally got my day(s) in court in June of 2005. With a new attorney by my side and armed with more evidence than I can recount, we went up against Veronica Vivieros, Esq. and David Rosen, Esq. (added pro hac vice the first day of trial) both of Harmon Law Offices and Fairbanks/Select employee Joy Browdowski-Lyons. CBS 4 out of Boston had cameras present in the court room and despite the formal objection of Attorney Vivieros to the Judge, they were permitted to stay and film the proceedings (a clip of which became part of the story they did on my case) After two days of trial, several days apart (we went June 16th and the 24th), we beat them and I was issued a permanent injunction preventing them from taking the house, as well as an order regarding legal fees which was favorable to me as well. However, here I am a year later and they are not only are they not in compliance with the court order, they are threatening to take the house again. Can you believe that even after they LOSE in court, they still threaten foreclosure action? Because litigation for damages is pending, I cannot and will not discuss it here. However several months ago, after a year of my attorney attempting to get them into compliance, he filed a motion for contempt against them

We were given an initial court date on the contempt issue of June 14, 2006 and the first Motion To Continue was filed by Veronica Vivieros, Esq., of Harmon Law Offices citing that the Fairbanks/Select witness could not be available to fly out here until July 13. We did not assent or object. However, shortly after they were given the new court date they requested, Attorney Vivieros came back seeking another continuance because a.) The witness could now not be available for the new date they requested and b.) They were seeking to add a new lawyer pro hac vice onto the case by the name of Dorothy A. Davis, Esq. from the firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin Mellott, LLC of Pittsburgh, PA. Again, we chose not to assent or object and this time the court denied their motion due to a violation of New Hampshire Court Rule 57a (failure to affirm that they sought concurrence from opposing counsel prior to filing their motion). Sadly, they will be getting their way regardless as roughly forty-eight hours prior to the order denying the continuance was issued, Attorney Rosen contacted my attorney to seek an assented continuance due to the fact that Attorney Vivieros was placed on mandatory, early maternity leave by her doctor. On Tuesday, July 11, Judge Abramson granted the motion to continue and set the new court date for August 24, 2006.

On Thursday, August 24, 2006, the Contempt Hearing took place. Appearing for Fairbanks/SPS was local counsel David Rosen & Jeffery Clark, Attorney Rosen spoke for his client who did not attend the hearing. Although asking for a continuance to allow for Attorney Dorothy Davis from Eckert Seamans to attend pro hac vice, she did not show up. I was there along with my attorney. Simply put, the Judge did not seem amused in the least to see us all in front of her again. Despite his pleas for another court date at which time he would present witnesses, Attorney Rosen was admonished by the Judge that he knew the date of the hearing was today, knew that if he needed more time he should have scheduled it with her Clerk and that the case was going to proceed. During the course of the hearing, the Judge got Rosen to agree that Fairbanks/SPS would properly report the issue of the wrongful foreclosure to the assorted credit bureaus. During the hearing it was more of the same old Fairbanks tactics. Thankfully the Judge wasn't swayed and issued her ruling within 25 hours of the hearing.

Among the orders she set forth, she ordered Matthew Hollingsworth, CEO of Fairbanks/SPS to provide the Court "within sixty days of the date of this Order a detailed affidavit, executed under pains of perjury by its Chief Executive Officer, detailing all steps it has taken to comply with this Order and the original Order of this Court". She further permanently enjoined them from taking any action to initiate foreclosure proceedings against me without first making application to the Court. As part of this same Order, she provided specific language that Fairbanks/SPS had to use when reporting to the credit bureaus which included the following, "upon a finding that SPS had acted wrongfully in refusing payments by Mr. Dillon, thereby resulting in improper foreclosure."  Copies of the letters to TransUnion, Experian, Equifax and Innovis were FedExed to my attorney on October 24, 2006 by Attorney Dorothy Davis of Eckert Seamans. 

As of 2010 the case continues to be in the court system. No one can live in a situation like this, for this long without breaking down. Because of being in legal limbo for all this time, my fiancée and I have postponed our wedding and been unable to start the family we both want. The stress levels are high at our house. I have suffered from and continually battle against severe depression and PTSD (although how it can be called post traumatic when you are still living through it baffles me). This has ruined me financially, Fairbanks/Select has ruined my credit so I can't even refinance away from them. I go through large bottle of antacid like you wouldn't believe. I am stuck in limbo, I can't sell the house without taking a huge loss, I couldn't buy a new house because they destroyed my credit and I can't move forward with business plans because I can't get financing.

As I stated in the first paragraph of this, there is so much more to the story that I could fill volumes. It was important to me that I get the basic story up on my site so that people visiting would at the very least have some idea of what a REAL victim goes through. In the days and weeks to come, I will add to this posting, as well as Blog about my experiences in the hopes that we can generate some much needed understanding and media for all victims of this type of fraud. Please check back frequently for updates and spread the word about my site.

Mike Dillon

Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2011 17:10
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