One of New York’s biggest foreclosure law firms has apologized for employee Halloween party costumes that found their way to the op-ed pages of The New York Times, outraged housing rights activists, and did little to soften the image of an organization that has handled a reported 40 percent of the state’s foreclosure cases.
“I again want to sincerely apologize for the inappropriate costumes worn by some of our employees at our Halloween Party in 2010. It was in extremely poor taste and I take full responsibility,” Steven J. Baum said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I know people were extremely offended and people have every right to be upset with me and my firm.”
[Article: Underwater Homeowners Pay More in Interest]
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera published photos of the outfits, leaked by a source he identified as a former employee of the Buffalo-based Steven J. Baum firm, in an article that appeared last week. In one of them, two women are dressed like homeless people. One holds what appears to be a bottle of liquor in a brown paper bag, the other a sign that says, “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” Another picture depicts a corner of the firm’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. A sign photographed at the party reads “Baum Estates.”
In his piece, Nocera pointed out that the firm had recently agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a Justice Department investigation that questioned whether the firm had “filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York.” According to Nocera, the law firm’s press release regarding the settlement acknowledged only that “it occasionally made inadvertent errors.” The firm’s practices are reportedly under investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
[Featured Product: Shop for Prepaid Debit Cards]
Image: respres, via Flickr.com