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Area groups protest foreclosure case


Leonard Spears (center, blue baseball cap) and supporters protest at Wells Fargo Financial Advisors branch office at 1200 Pittsford-Victor Road on Monday.

Freddie Mac wants distressed homeowners to know foreclosure prevention is one of its top priorities.
“We believe it’s the right thing to do for families, and the right thing for our company to do as a responsible steward of taxpayer support,” Freddie Mac notes on its website. So far, however, it hasn’t helped 57-year-old Rochester resident Leonard Spears, who received a 90-day eviction notice on March 30 from Freddie Mac’s representative attorneys, Stein, Wiener & Roth LLP in Carle Place, N.Y.
On Monday, about 60 community activists and members of Occupy Rochester, Take Back the Land and the Band of Rebels held a protest for Spears in front of the Wells Fargo Financial Advisors branch office at 1200 Pittsford-Victor Road.
Wells Fargo Bank began the foreclosure proceedings against Spears, but has a limited presence in Rochester.
Spears and the protestors hoped to deliver a letter to the financial advisors’ office, to be forwarded to the proper Wells Fargo mortgage representatives, but were rebuked by Monroe County Sheriffs Office deputies who instructed them to leave private property.
Wells Fargo sold Leonard’s home on Ries Street to Freddie Mac in December for $500.
“I’m disappointed with that,” Spears said. “What kind of justice is that? I would have paid more than $500.”
Spears said he tried to pay as much as he could to his Wells Fargo mortgage company, but was told they couldn’t take any money after the foreclosure process began. Spears said he fell behind in his payments when he was hurt on the job at ATT and was waiting for disability benefits when he fell behind on mortgage payments and was allegedly served with a foreclosure summons and complaint.
Spears said he was never served with the summons and complaint, despite the fact an affidavit of service was filed in Monroe County Supreme Court by Class Action LLC. The affidavit of service contained numerous errors in describing Spears’ hair color, height and age.
Wells Fargo initially hired the now displaced law firm of Steven J. Baum PC to execute the foreclosure.
Freddie Mac removed Baum from its approved attorney list in November and gave the case to Stein, Wiener & Roth.
Occupy Rochester and Take Back the land spokesman Ryan Acuff said the groups are working on getting legal representation for Spears. If they can’t get a pro bono attorney, they’ll help Spears proceed pro se.
Acuff helped another foreclosure defendant, Catherine Lennon, file a successful motion to stay in an eerily similar foreclosure case in August.
“There are a lot of similarities here to Lennon’s case. She was never served and an affidavit of service by the same process server gave the wrong description of her,” Acuff explained. “We’ll see more attorney affirmations now that will show discrepancies like this but people still need lawyers to get that information.”
A petition to stop the foreclosure proceedings against Spears received over 400 signatures as of Monday.
Spears was encouraged by the assistance he has received from the various protest groups and from City Council members but is worried he doesn’t have much time left.
“A couple City Council members told me they would see what could be done but my deadline to get out is July 1. Where will I be then? I’m on a short schedule. I spent so much time on home modification requests and I’m willing to repay but it just doesn’t work,” Spears said.

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