Back in 2011, a Buffalo, New York, foreclosure law firm — a foreclosure mill, if you will — was caught in a very embarrassing predicament. Some of its employees decided that for their Halloween costumes, they’d dress up like people who had lost their homes in the foreclosure process. The story made the New York Times, and the public reveled in all of the sheer schadenfreude.
Today, we’ve got another foreclosure mill for you to point and laugh at. It seems that this firm’s building was foreclosed upon, and now it’s facing eviction from the office where its employees once billed up to $100,000 for throwing people out of their homes.
Karma is real, people…
Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard, a Massachusetts firm, recently carried out its third round of layoffs, sending its former employees out to the street in tears. The firm hasn’t paid its rent — or anything else, for that matter — in months. Here are some additional details from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:
The foreclosure firm saw its office building, owned by an affiliated entity, foreclosed on and sold at auction in March. The building was purchased for $4 million by brothers Joseph A. and Ronald A. Martignetti, who are lawyers but primarily focus on real estate investments.
“They have not paid any rent, and we, of course, are evicting them,” Ronald Martignetti said. “We have eviction proceedings going on right now in Woburn District Court to remove them from that building.”
In an email responding to questions from Lawyers Weekly, Geaney said the new owners informed the firm that the lease was void and, after several weeks, “proposed a rent that we believe is far too high.”
According to the District Court case file, however, Connolly Geaney has failed to pay for its use and occupancy even under the terms of the pre-existing lease, which the Martignettis asked the firm to do until it vacated the premises. As of May 27, the firm owed more than $88,000, according to the case file.
“They were stiffing everybody in sight,” Peabody lawyer John J. Regan said of the law firm.
This is not a pretty picture: The firm has bounced checks left and right, allowed its employees’ health insurance policies to be canceled, and laid off almost its entire fleet of lawyers and paralegals. Ouch.
Like most firms in deep doo-doo, Connolly Geaney is simply denying that anything is wrong:
“To allow for growth and expansion, we are reorganizing the firm to accommodate new partners and new opportunities for the firm,” [partner Steven A. Ablitt] stated. “We are in the process of upgrading our office facilities, and we are in fact hiring additional staff to handle the workload. The firm is in an acquisition phase, and as such, changes were needed to accommodate the expansion. … Certain employees were deemed not to be a good fit with the firm going forward.”
Connolly Geaney seems to be adhering to the old Biglaw proverb: “When in doubt, deny, deny, deny.”
We’d wish this firm luck, but its managing partners kind of deserve everything that’s coming their way. Sure, it sucks for the employees, but that’s what happens when you work for jerks. Somewhere, someone who’s been forced onto the street by Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard is cackling with glee.