Last updated 2/24/12
I started this blog because one of the many defrauded FDRS clients was sued by Citibank for a Federal Debt Relief System (FDRS) enrolled account. Cohen & Slamowitz in New York are the attorneys representing Citibank.
My client had ordered a Credit Review, we discussed his financial and personal situation and his accounts and I recommended that he either file for bankruptcy or let Citi get a default judgment. His wages are already garnished and he owns nothing they can take from him — he is judgment-proof.
However, considering the relatively SMALL debts and the fact that he had PAID FDRS for their “debt elimination” program, he decided to ask Citibank for assistance with pursuing FDRS, owner Mark Cella and other key personnel.
After my client was served, I contacted Cohen & Slamowitz on 11/5/09 with his power of attorney. I explained that he was defrauded by FDRS, I asked whether Citibank (the plaintiff) would assist with the prosecution of FDRS and I asked for an extension to answer the complaint as my client was looking for an attorney.
On 11/6/09 I called Cohen & Slamowitz to confirm receipt of the fax and I spoke with Stephanie Spivack.
Ms. Spivack advised that attorney David Robinson was reading my fax and that he would get back to me.
Strangely, she also told me that attorneys are NOT assigned to active lawsuits until an answer has been filed.
The original complaint and collection letters were signed by THREE attorneys: “D. COHEN, M. SLAMOWITZ and L. JOHN, ESQS”
The 10/27/09 collection letter with the summons was signed by “David A. Cohen, Esq./Mitchell G. Slamowitz, Esq.”
Why are the attorneys who SIGNED the lawsuit and collection letters not available to discuss this case?
I requested the affidavit of service (as EVERY defendant in a debt collection case should) and Stephanie Spivack faxed it to me.
That’s when we realized that process server Mark McCumber with Rondout Legal Services FALSIFIED the service date.
It so happens that they DID make several attempts to serve, but AFTER 10/3/09, the date when Mark McCumber falsely claimed to have served my client. They didn’t leave the complaint and summons at his door until 10/10/09.
Why is it important?
If you don’t respond to the complaint on time, the creditor can get a DEFAULT judgment.
Of course my client was panicking as he did not want to get a default judgment against him and I sent another fax to Cohen & Slamowitz attorney David Robinson on 11/6/09, as his 30 days to respond to the complaint AS PER THE FALSE DATE provided by process server Mark McCumber were up.
Why would a process server commit perjury and falsify the date of service by a week?
Apparently you have 120 days in NY to serve the summons and complaint.
The summons was issued on 6/9/09.
The affidavit of service states that the suit was filed on 6/24/09.
Most likely, process server Mark McCumber noticed the 6/9/09 date of the SUMMONS and COMPLAINT because the FILING date was not on the complaint he served.
Service over 120 days from 6/9 would make the ACTUAL service date of 10/10/09 too late — if the complaint was FILED on 6/9/09.
The defendant could move for dismissal and Citi would have to refile.
Since just about NO consumers examine the affidavit of service, the risk of discovery of a false service date is extremely small. MOST suits for delinquent debts result in DEFAULT judgments.
And that ALSO explains why he apparently did NOT mail the summons and complaint at all. In the Affidavit of Service process server McCumber claimed to have mailed them on 12/7/09. Had he mailed them later, the postmark would document his false statement and I presume he chose to not mail it at all.
And of course one can not expect a consumer who is sued for not paying his debts to find neighbors who will testify in his support. It so happened that my client’s daughter witnessed him finding the complaint at the door on 10/10/09 and a process server spoke to his landlord on 10/5/09 (after allegedly serving on 10/3/09). Will the landlord appear in court to testify and to identify the process server?
On 11/10/09, my client filed his motion for extension of time to respond to the complaint as we received NO response from Cohen & Slamowitz.
On 11/23/09 I again called Cohen & Slamowitz and I asked to speak to the attorney in charge of this case.
From my notes to my client:
800-293-6006 ext. 8983
Asked to speak to the attorney in your case. Was put on long hold.
Finally spoke with Lisa D’Alessio, a manager.
516-364-6006 ext. 8476
David Robinson IS the attorney of record. She claimed that they first were notified of your request for extension by your court filing and it turned out to be a long call, was on the phone over 20 minutes.
In short, they have not contacted the process server and will not contact the process server because it is not an issue as they agree to the extension.
She continually misstated what you wrote in your affidavit, basically making you look like an idiot and that you must have received the server’s MAILING on the 10th.
I asked her to provide all communications sent in your name by FDRS and she is about as dense as they come, insisted that you must have what you sent. Finally she agreed to forward my request to Robinson.
To date, I have not received a response and my client has not had any contact with Cohen & Slamowitz outside court.
My client filed his motion to dismiss on 12/15/09.
It was twice rejected by the court for deficiencies (notice of motion, hearing date) and finally filed on 1/26/10.
On 2/23/10 was the HEARING.
An attorney from Cohen & Slamowitz appeared and nothing was decided. Several days after the hearing, my client received the 2/19/10 Affirmation of Opposition, signed by Cohen & Slamowitz attorney Carol Van Houten.
On 03/01/2010 was the Preliminary Conference.
An attorney from another firm attended. There was lots of confusion, the filing opposing my client’s motion to dismiss was not in the court’s file and the judge granted 15 days to provide affidavits to document the false dates in the affidavit of service.
My 3/10/10 NOTICE OF PUBLICATION and public response to Cohen & Slamowitz attorney Carol Van Houten’s 2/19/10 with allegations of unauthorized practice of law against me.
I have many questions for attorney Van Houten and will of course update with her response — if any.
The Cohen & Slamowitz collection practices are deplorable and I will assist my client with his regulatory complaints and I will contact NY consumer attorneys on his behalf.
I’ll also start a blog about Citibank and its decision to pursue my client INSTEAD of FDRS and Mark Cella.
I have written quite a bit about Citibank’s despicable banking practices in the past and the California AG even obtained a JUDGMENT against Citi for stealing their customers’ money to pay for executive bonuses.
Americans ought to know who they’re bailing out.
— My client finally filed for bankruptcy in 2011. He didn’t go down without a fight and he made the lawyers work. Unfortunately the judge didn’t care about the falsified affidavit of service.