Mortgage Servicing Fraud
occurs post loan origination when mortgage servicers use false statements and book-keeping entries, fabricated assignments, forged signatures and utter counterfeit intangible Notes to take a homeowner's property and equity.
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This story contains elements of stories I have heard from different people. Real estate chicanery. Mishandled funds. Telling a payee to VOID the check. Shredding a check. Stealing escrow funds from clients. Refusing to release funds as instructed.

The icing on the cake: this joker taught contract law to paralegals. Looks like he lost that job, too.

Something for everyone who has ever had to deal with a rogue attorney. Lurking lawyers should take one is above the law! Not even you!

Arrest Warrant Issued For Attorney

By Amy Sherrill
Times Record •


Wednesday, August 5, 2009 7:54 AM CDT
An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday for a Fort Smith attorney who ran unsuccessfully in 2008 for circuit judge.

Authorities are accusing Robert Ellis Yoes, 58, of felony theft by deception for knowingly obtaining $65,000 of a client’s money and depriving him of it for almost two years, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant. The alleged theft occurred between Aug. 10, 2006, and May 5, 2008.
        In 2006, Yoes represented Jerald Ray Rhodes and acted as a closing agent for him in a property transaction with Hammond Sheet Metal Inc, according to court documents.

Rhodes had entered into a contract to buy real estate from Hammond Sheet Metal and he was to receive $65,000 as an improvement allowance from the company.

Yoes received the $65,000 on Aug. 10, 2006, as a wire transfer into one of his trust accounts. He was directed in an e-mail from the company to pay Rhodes the $65,000 when Rhodes had completed all of his purchase obligations and Yoes had completed closing of the transaction. Yoes replied by e-mail, “Understood.”

On Aug. 11, 2006, the day of the property closing, Rhodes was unable to leave his home because he was suffering from pneumonia and cancer, according to the affidavit. For that reason, the closing was held at Rhodes’ Fort Smith home.

An employee of Yoes’, Linda Thompson, had drawn a $65,000 check payable to Rhodes per the seller’s instructions. Three days after the Aug. 11 closing, a transfer of $65,000, along with other funds, was made to another of Yoes’ trust accounts, according to the affidavit prepared by Fort Smith police detective Cpl. Ron Scamardo.

Thompson was told to void the $65,000 check and she did so by marking “void” across it, but kept the check. She repeatedly asked Yoes about the money from August through December 2006. Yoes took the check that December and shredded it.

From Aug. 14, 2006 — the day the money was transferred from the Yoes trust account to the Yoes PLLC account — through April 30, 2008, the monthly balance of the “PLLC account was above $2,000 only four months and was never up to the $65,000 it should have been had the money simply been kept in trust,” the affidavit states.

Bank records show that from August through December 2006, the monthly balances were reduced as a result of checks being drawn on the account in favor of Yoes Law Firm Operating Account, Yoes Law Firm PLLC and Bob Yoes. The balance of the account on Dec. 29, 2006, was $12.71, according to court documents.

In February and March 2008, after Rhodes regained his health and had an occasion to review his financial records, he discovered that he had not received the $65,000. Rhodes, through another attorney, demanded Yoes turn over the money, and on May 5, 2008, Yoes sent a cashier’s check in the amount of $65,000 to Rhodes and his attorney.

Bank records reveal that the $65,000 used to purchase the cashier’s check came from the following sources:

• $15,000 from a Charles Schwab account in Yoes’ name.

• $30,000 from Yoes’ household account.

• $5,564 from an insurance check to G. Yoes.

The rest appears to be from a Cherokee Insurance Co. check made payable to an individual and Yoes as the individual’s attorney. Police determined the money was a result of a personal injury settlement with the individual, according to the affidavit.

Yoes was in the midst of his first campaign for elective office when Rhodes filed on May 7, 2008, a complaint with police accusing Yoes of theft by deception. Rhodes claimed that Yoes kept $16,500 he had negotiated in a settlement agreement instead of forwarding it to him. Yoes denied the accusation and said he credited the amount to his client as payment for outstanding attorney fees.

“We have been continuing to investigate since then,” said Sgt. Levi Risley of the Fort Smith Police Department. “White-collar criminal investigations are often lengthy.”

It takes time to sort out financial transactions and to track down financial information, he added.

Yoes ran for 12th Judicial District circuit judge against Stephen Tabor, who took the Division 1 seat Jan. 1.

Tabor won the contested judgeship May 20, 2008, on the primary ballot with 4,285 to Yoes’ 917 votes.

Yoes was named in a second police complaint on May 14, 2008, this time accusing him of theft of property over $2,500.

Jimmy Robert Dugan told police that he had nearly $449,000 deposited in a trust account managed by Yoes, and he believes money is missing from that account, according to his own records.

Rhodes and Dugan were clients for whom Yoes handled business transactions and investments.

“When any alleged criminal activity is reported to police, it doesn’t mean that it is true,” Risley said. “It is up to the police to investigate it further to determine whether something criminal occurred.”

An investigation on the second complaint is still ongoing and detectives last entered a supplement report three weeks ago, Risley said.

A Sebastian County circuit judge referred the matter in May 2008 to the Prosecutor Coordinators Office in Little Rock to avoid a conflict of interest.

Fifth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons was recommended by the Coordinators Office to investigate criminal allegations against Yoes.

Previously, Yoes said a special prosecutor would only find the allegations untrue.

Gibbons’ main office for the 5th Judicial District is in Russellville, where he represents the state in Franklin, Johnson and Pope counties.

A call to Yoes’ office Tuesday was not returned. A call to Yoes’ home phone was answered by his wife, Genny, who said her husband was not there and asked the caller if she could help. When asked for a comment regarding the arrest warrant, she said, “No comment.”

As of late Tuesday, Yoes had not been booked at the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center.

“Yoes is going to be surrendered by his attorney — someone out of Conway who represents attorneys,” Risley said.

Yoes, who has practiced law for 33 years, has taught contract law in the paralegal program as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. He taught a course there during spring 2009, but is not scheduled to teach this fall, according to Sondra LaMar, a spokeswoman for the university.

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