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Craig D. Robins, Esq. New York Bankruptcy Attorney, Longisland bankruptcy attorney

“ Craig D. Robins, Esq., has been a practicing Long Island bankruptcy attorney for over twenty-four years ”

Craig D. Robins, Esq.

Current Events

Long Island Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case Filing Information Now Available For Cases Filed in Central Islip

Posted on Friday (September 11, 2009) at 5:00 am to Central Islip Bankruptcy Court & Judges
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Chapter 11 Filings on Long Island
Current Events
Long Island Economy

Long Island Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case Filing Information Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
When I started my bankruptcy blog, I thought it would be a great idea to provide a summary of each new Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed in Central Islip Bankruptcy Court, which is part of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York.  I am proud to announce that I have begun to do this.
 
You will now be able to find information about all Chapter 11 cases filed in the Central Islip Bankruptcy Court after August 1, 2009 by reading posts in the Long Island Bankruptcy Blog.  Most information is obtained from public documents filed in the bankruptcy case.
 
All Chapter 11 case information posts are in the category Chapter 11 Filings on Long Island .
 
Several weeks after the close of each month, I will also provide a monthly index of those Chapter 11 cases filed on Long Island the previous month.
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Chapter 9 Bankruptcy for New York City Off-Track Betting Corp

Posted on Wednesday (September 2, 2009) at 12:15 pm to Current Events

New York City Off-Track Betting Corp Will be Filing for Chapter 9 BankruptcyWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.

Sometimes even municipal entities need to obtain bankruptcy relief.  New York Governor David Paterson signed an executive order yesterday that will enable New York City Off-Track Betting Corp to file for bankruptcy as a municipality.

OTB will be filing for Chapter 9 relief.  This is the chapter of the bankruptcy code that applies to municipalities and enables them to restructure and reorganize their debts through a bankruptcy proceeding.

Chapter 9 can be contrasted with Chapter 7, which is the type of bankruptcy consumers usually file to eliminate credit card debt, and Chapter 13, which is the other type of consumer bankruptcy, which lets consumers save their homes with a bankruptcy payment plan.  There is also Chapter 11, which is a plan of reorganization usually used by businesses.

The OTB was set up as a public benefit corporation in 1970 to raise money from pari-mutuel betting for New York City, the state and the horse-racing industry. In pari-mutuel betting, all bets of a specific type are pooled with the house subtracting its “take” before paying the winners.

However, despite taking more than $1 billion in bets every year, the OTB has not been able to cover its operating costs for quite some time and has accrued liabilities of $220 million.

Under Chapter 9, OTB will overhaul its business model, renegotiate with its unions, upgrade its technology and end some of its leases.

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Former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Points Out Disturbing News About Americans and their Pensions

Posted on Sunday (June 28, 2009) at 10:00 am to Current Events

Long Island Bankruptcy Attorney with XXXXX, Written by Craig D. Robins. Esq.
 
I had the pleasure of discussing bankruptcy and the economy with Thomas J. Mackell last week. Mr. Mackell is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of one of our Federal Reserve Banks.  He has since become a crusader for pension reform.
 
He addressed several attorneys in our office about some of the serious problems facing this country’s economy and retirement systems. He believes America needs a new deal for pension and health care reform.
 
One extremely interesting and disturbing remark that he made is that the average American spends less time thinking about their retirement income than they do planning their annual two-week summer vacation.  It seems Americans fail to properly consider their pension choices.
 
Mr. Mackell pointed that in the past decade, there has been a great shift in retirement responsibility from the shoulders of the institution to the shoulders of the individual.   This has created quite a problem, he believes, because the average individual does not even know the difference between a stock and a bond.   He thinks a new hybrid retirement system is necessary.
 
I am seen holding Mr. Mackell’s book, “When the Good Pensions Go Away:  Why America Needs a New Deal for Pension and Health Care Reform,” in which Mr. Mackell discusses the gaping holes in America’s retirement systems and the need for better solutions.
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Millionaire Chapter 7 Debtor had Meeting of Creditors in his NYC Luxury Townhouse

Posted on Tuesday (June 23, 2009) at 5:34 pm to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Current Events

Millionaire Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Debtor had Meeting of Creditors in his NYC Luxury TownhouseWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
If you are wealthy enough and in bankruptcy, can you get the Chapter 7 trustee to make a house call for the meeting of creditors?   In a recent case, the answer was yes.
 
My friend and colleague for over 20 years, Long Island bankruptcy attorney Salvatore LaMonica, is the newest Chapter 7 trustee appointed to the panel in the Southern District of New York.  Congratulations to Sal!
 
One of his first cases was the Chapter 7 filing of disgraced Manhattan lawyer Marc Dreier, who is accused of defrauding hedge funds of $700 million.  See: Long Island Bankruptcy Lawyer Salvatore LaMonica Named as Trustee in Major Swindler Case.
 
Because Dreier was under house arrest, and because Sal believed that there may have been valuable non-exempt assets in Drier’s multi-million dollar Manhattan townhouse, Sal did not hesitate to arrange to conduct the meeting of creditors there.
 
It was a good decision.  Shortly thereafter, Sal arranged to auction off the townhouse and Drier’s two Hamptons waterfront properties, together valued at about $15 million.
 
This house call was certainly out of the ordinary.  Usually, when a debtor is incarcerated or under house arrest, the debtor’s attorney will either make arrangements to get permission to go to court for the meeting of creditors, or will try to have it done over the phone.
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Debt Settlement Industry Criticized by New York Times

Posted on Monday (June 15, 2009) at 12:15 am to Consumer Advice
Current Events
Debt Negotiation

Debt settlement companies are being investigated by Federal Trade Commission, state regulators, members of Congress and state legislators -- and the New York State Attorney General, Andrew CuomoWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
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Times Article Highlights Problems With Debt Settlement Companies
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The New York Times, in an article published on June 10, 2009, drew attention to the problems with debt settlement companies, observing that the debt settlement industry is in the cross hairs of the Federal Trade Commission, state regulators, members of Congress and state legislators.
 
The article stated that many consumer advocates loathe the way the debt settlement companies solicit consumers.  According to The Times, the common complaint is that “debt settlement companies are more interested in helping themselves earn fees than aiding their beleaguered clients.” 
 
“Their ads promise the clients will get out of debt but, critics say, the reality is that they often become even more enmeshed.”
 
The Times quoted one debt settlement company spokesman who conceded that “there are a lot of bad apples in this industry.”
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New York Is Investigating the Debt Settlement Industry
 
The article was timely because New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo recently subpoenaed many debt settlement companies as part of a wide-ranging investigation.  I wrote about this last month:  New York Commences Nationwide Investigation Into Debt Settlement Industry — Many Offers to Eliminate Credit Card Debt are False and Misleading.
 
There is a Major Distinction Between Debt Negotiation and Debt Settlement
 
The services offered by debt settlement companies are very different from debt negotiation services offered by certain law firm such as my own.  With debt settlement companies, the consumer makes monthly payments to the company, and the company first applies these payments to their own fees before any settlement is actually made.
 
Debt settlement companies will often sign up consumers who they know, or should have known, would not be able to complete the program.  What’s more, the companies keep the fees even when services are not provided!
 
Debt negotiation offered by attorneys, however, is much different and involves negotiating settlements with the creditors.  The client typically does not pay any advance fees, other than an initial retainer.
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Consumers Using Debt Settlement Services Often Get Into Worse Financial Shape
 
In my Long Island bankruptcy practice, I cannot tell you how often we get clients who complain to us that they hired a debt settlement company, only to get into deeper financial difficulty after the company neglected to follow through on their promises of settling debts.  Debt settlement companies are unregulated and their are numerous horror stories of these companies steeling escrowed funds and going out of business.
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If Miss California Files Bankruptcy, What Kind of Bankruptcy Would She File?

Posted on Wednesday (June 10, 2009) at 6:10 pm to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Current Events

Miss California with Donald Trump, who just fired herWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Using a hypothetical, let’s explore how the new bankruptcy laws would apply to a celebrity with income-producing ability who loses their job
 
Miss California, Carrie Prejean, just heard the words this afternoon that many middle-class Americans are hearing all too much these days:  “You’re Fired!”
 
She got the pink slip from her Miss America Pageant boss, Donald Trump, who had practiced saying these most-feared words, “You’re Fired,” weekly on his The Apprentice TV show.
 
Now that she’s without a job, let’s do the hypothetical:  If she had to file for bankruptcy relief because of overwhelming debt, what kind of bankruptcy would she file?  What bankruptcy chapter would it be?  Chapter 7?  Chapter 11?  Chapter 13?  Would she face any issues?
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Unlike most consumers, celebrities often have great future income-earning potential
 
Let’s assume that she has gone through whatever money she had won, she has no job, and she has a significant amount of credit card debt.  Let’s also assume that she has a car, some jewelry, and some valuable and expensive designer clothes.
 
Initially one would think that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the appropriate way to go.  Sure, she might have to turn over her jewelry; she might or might not be able to keep her car — depending on the amount of equity in it; and a trustee would probably not care about her clothes — even if they are designer duds.  But she would be able to eliminate her debts.
 
However, not so fast.  The U.S. Trustee might decide to look closer at the case for signs of “abuse.”  The U.S. Trustee reviews each and every bankruptcy filing for this.
 
The U.S. Trustee considers future income-earning ability in determining whether a bankruptcy filing is abusive
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Knowing that Miss California is a celebrity very much in the news, the U.S. Trustee could argue that her Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where the objective is to discharge all debt, would be an abuse of the bankruptcy laws.  They could argue that even though she may not have the ability to pay her debts now, her celebrity status and story could theoretically enable her to earn substantial amounts of money in the future. 
 
After all, she can probably make a million dollars or more selling her autobiography, licensing the rights to her life story, or giving speeches at $25,000 a pop. 
 
As such, the U.S. Trustee can argue that she has a great ability to earn substantial money in the future, even without the job of Miss California.  They would then argue that if she wants to stay in bankruptcy, she would have to convert her case to one under Chapter 13, assuming her credit card debts are less than a $336,000, or even Chapter 11, if she cannot demonstate a regular monthly income, which is a normal requirement for Chapter 13 cases.
 
In Chapter 13, she would probably be called upon to pay back her creditors in full with a monthly payment plan, assuming that she was able to bring in sufficient income.  If she couldn’t bring in the necessary income to fund a plan right away, or if her debts exceeded $336,000, she would instead have to file for Chapter 11 relief.
 
On the other hand, she could oppose the U.S. Trustee’s position by arguing that she has no plans to take financial advantage of  her celebrity status,  and that she would be in the poor house like so many other Americans who have been recently let go.  If the bankruptcy judge found such a position to be credible, then she could get her Chapter 7 discharge and eliminate her debts.
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What can we learn from this hypothetical as it applies to consumers
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The sad fact is that today, many consumers are losing their jobs, and they can be from any economic class — lower, middle or even upper.  In these recessionary times, not only are factory workers losing jobs; doctors who work as staff physicians in hospitals are being laid off, too.
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If a factory worker or an automobile salesperson loses his job, they would probably encounter no opposition from the U.S. Trustee in a Chapter 7 filing based on potential earning ability.  However, if a doctor, who was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, loses a hospital position, the U.S. Trustee would probably want to review the likelihood that the doctor could return to work soon at a substantial salary, even if it is not as much as the prior income.
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Thus many middle class Americans will have no problem filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief; whereas a select few high-earners wil have to consider other bankruptcy options such as Chapter 11 and 13.
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Note:  This post is a revision of my original post.  One of my loyal blog readers brought to my attention that maybe I initially ribbed Miss California, a person of recent controversy in the news, too much.  If I offended anyone, I apologize.
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Loan Modification Industry is a “Sham” Says Attorney General Cuomo !

Posted on Tuesday (June 9, 2009) at 7:45 pm to Current Events
Foreclosure Defense
Mortgages & Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown

Loan Modification Industry is a Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Cuomo takes action after being besieged by consumer complaints that loan modification companies are not fulfilling promises
 
In a news conference this morning, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said what I have been saying for quite some time. 
 
“In many ways, the entire industry is a scam, in my opinion,” Cuomo said.
 
Cuomo announced that he is suing American Modification Agency, also known as Amerimod, a Uniondale-based loan modification firm, and its owner, Salvatore Pane.  He accused the Long Island mortgage modification company of fraudulent advertising and charging illegal fees.
 
This news comes one week after Newsday broke a two-day cover story on foreclosure help scams in which I was quoted.  In that article, I indicated that I do not do loan modifications.  See Today’s Newsday Cover Story Is About Long Island Foreclosure Scams .
 
Cuomo is also pursuing five other Long Island mortgage modification companies: Nationwide Modification Agency in Hauppauge; Global Modifications Inc. in Ronkonkoma; Loan Modification Affiliate Exchange, or LoanMAE, in Oceanside; Hometown U.S.A. in Plainview; and CloseMore Financial Corp. in New Hyde Park.  He is also issuing subpoenas to nine other companies outside of Long Island.
 
The Attorney General is also pursuing a Long Island Loan Modification attorney —  Brett Margolin, Esq. for possible fraudulent practices.
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Many of these companies claim that they have very high success rates, while the Governor says that this is not true.  He said his investigation follows complaints from homeowners across New York that loan modification companies did not fulfill promises, and often left customers deeper in debt.
 
Amerimod apparently pulled out all the stops to bring customers in, but hardly did anything for them once it collected their money. Phone calls went unanswered; untrained agents dissatisfied with paltry commissions resigned, leaving customers in the lurch; and homeowners received foreclosure notices despite guarantees that their homes would be saved.
 
Cuomo said the economic and housing downturns had allowed “unscrupulous people” to take advantage of frightened borrowers.
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Countrywide Mortgage Founder Gets His Due

Posted on Friday (June 5, 2009) at 5:25 am to Current Events
Mortgages & Sub-Prime Mortgage Meltdown

Countrywide former CEO Mozila, a direct cause of the nation's mortgage meltdown, now being charged by the SEC for fraudWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Countrywide fueled this country’s sub-prime mortgage housing collapse.  Now its former CEO is being sued by the SEC for fraud
 
Angelo Mozilo, who is one of the biggest names responsible for the irresponsible lending practices that led to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, is now the target of an SEC lawsuit for fraud and insider trading.
 
The SEC held a news conference in Washington today to discuss claims that Mozilo failed to inform Countrywide shareholders just how lax lending standards became at the mortgage giant as the housing boom neared its collapse. The SEC also is scrutinizing Mozilo’s sale of hundreds of millions of dollars in stock as defaults mounted on the high-risk loans in which Countrywide had specialized.
 
I have written extensively that Countrywide also had the reputation of being the poster child of bad boy frivolous litigation practices in bankruptcy courts across the country.  See Major Mortgagee in Trouble Again with Bankruptcy Court .
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Why Did Chrysler and GM File for Bankruptcy in New York?

Posted on Tuesday (June 2, 2009) at 7:20 pm to Bankruptcy Practice
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Current Events

Chrysler and GM Chose to File for Bankruptcy in New York, Which is Called Forum ShoppingWritten by Craig D. Robins, Esq.
 
Large Companies Filing for Bankruptcy Can Usually Choose Which Bankruptcy Court to File In
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The big three automakers are headquartered in Michigan.  Why, then, did Chrysler and General Motors file their gigantic Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases in New York bankruptcy court?
 
The answer is called “forum shopping.”
 
When it comes to large, corporate bankruptcies, companies can file in any jurisdiction where they have an affiliate who has filed for bankruptcy.  With the case of General Motors, the auto giant  filed a bankruptcy for a company-owned dealership in New York just minutes before they filed the major bankruptcy.
 
Forum shopping has existed for quite some time with bankruptcy cases.  Large companies that have affiliates all over the country can thus file almost anywhere.  They can file their bankruptcy case where they feel the law or court would favor them the most.
 
Not only is forum shopping widely accepted, bankruptcy judges actually seem to compete to get the biggest and most newsworthy cases as if they are badges of honor.
 
Most large corporations prefer to file for bankruptcy in New York or Delaware.  These two states have long track records of adjudicating involved, corporate bankruptcy cases.  The courts in these two states tend to apply the law very consistently, so that attorneys can predict how the court will rule on a particular issue.  Also, the judges in these states agree to permit bankruptcy attorneys to collect very generous attorneys fees.
 
As long as there has been forum shopping there has been debate as to whether it is moral or ethical.
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Can Same-Sex Married Couples File Joint Personal Bankruptcy?

Posted on Saturday (May 30, 2009) at 11:17 pm to Bankruptcy and Society
Bankruptcy Procedure
Current Events
Matrimonial Issues & Bankruptcy

Can Same-Sex Married Couples File Joint Personal Bankruptcy?  Can Gay Married Couples, Who Were Married in Another State, File Joint Bankruptcy Petitions in New York Bankruptcy Courts?Written by Craig D. Robins, Esq. and Ian Ribald
 
California’s Supreme Court decision this past week, upholding the ban against same-sex marriage in that state, has been very controversial.
 
Now that same-sex marriage is again headlining the news, some are questioning whether a same-sex married couple may file a joint personal bankruptcy petition.  Bankruptcy law provides that only a married couple may file a joint bankruptcy petition.
 
Currently, only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (as of September 1, 2009) and Maine (as of September 14, 2009) have recognized same-sex marriage. This acknowledgment should allow a same-sex couple to file a joint bankruptcy petition with their spouse in these states only.
 
Can Gay Married Couples, Who Were Married in Another State, File Joint Bankruptcy Petitions in New York Bankruptcy Courts?
 
A major concern for many same-sex married couples is whether their marriage would be recognized by states that do not allow same sex marriage.  Can a same-sex married couple that was married in another state, and then moves to New York, file for joint bankruptcy relief in New York, or would the couple have to file individual bankruptcy petitions?
 
Pursuant to the Defense against Marriage Act, a state is not required to recognize a same-sex marriage in their state even though they were legitimately married in another state.   However, on May 29, 2008, New York Governor David Paterson issued a directive requiring that all state agencies recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
 
As a result of Governor Paterson’s directive, New York became the first state that does not allow same-sex marriages, but whose state agencies recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. 
 
Does that change things as far as a bankruptcy filing is concerned?
 
The fact that New York state agencies will recognize the marriage does not necessarily mean that a  federal bankruptcy court in New York will. 
 
Accordingly, there is currently an issue as to whether gay couples, who are New York residents, and who were married in other states, can file a joint personal bankruptcy in this state.  I would argue that they can because the federal law must defer to particular state law as far as recognizing the validity of a marriage.  However, this has not been tested here in New York as far as I know.
 
I’ll Consider Providing Free Bankruptcy Representation to a Same-Sex Married Couple
 
If you are New York same-sex couple, properly married in another state, that needs to file for Chapter 7  bankruptcy relief, I would consider representing you free, on a pro-bono basis, to test the waters and set a precedent. 
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Note: Ian Ribald is a summer intern with our firm.  He recently finished his second year of law at Touro Law School.
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About Us

Craig D. Robins, Esq. is a Long Island bankruptcy lawyer, who is focused primarily on helping individuals and families, find solutions to their debt problems. Read more »

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Craig D. Robins, Esq.
35 Pinelawn Road, Suite 218E, Melville, NY 11747.

Tel : 516 - 496 - 0800

CraigR@Craigrobinslaw.com