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Heartless? Law Firm Mocked Foreclosure Victims with Homeless-Themed Halloween Party

Photos from a former employee of the law firm of Steven J. Baum: Two Steven J. Baum employees mocking homeowners who have been foreclosed on. (New York Times)

One of the top foreclosure law firms hosted a Halloween party where the theme was...homelessness. And there are photos.

The Steven J. Baum law firm -- a so-called "foreclosure mill" that represents such lender giants Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo -- holds a company Halloween party every year. The photos in question are from last year's bash, but were only recently sent to the New York Times.

The New York Times' Joe Nocera was sent the series of photos by a former firm employee. In them, partygoers show off their dirty, smudged faces, ill-fitting clothing, liquor bottles and cardboard signs. In short, they're dressed as homeless people.

Another photo shows a corner of the offices decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. Others look like homeless encampments, with shopping carts and blankets and misspelled signs reading, "Will worke for food" and "O.T.S.C." -- meaning "order to show cause," a last-ditch effort by homeowners who are about to be evicted.

New York Times

The former employee told the Times said she sent in the photos because she wanted to demonstrate the "appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against."

She said the photos are emblematic of the firm's mindset when dealing with homeowners.

“There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.

According to the Times, Baum is under investigation by the state attorney general and recently agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a Department of Justice investigation into whether it “filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York.” The firm acknowledged only that "it occasionally made inadvertent errors."

Nocera described his efforts to reach out to the firm and ask for a response to the photos:

When I called a press spokesman for Steven J. Baum to ask about the photographs, he sent me a statement a few hours later. “It has been suggested that some employees dress in ... attire that mocks or attempts to belittle the plight of those who have lost their homes,” the statement read. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” It described this column as “another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work.”

See the rest of the photos here.

(h/t Huffington Post)

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