Worst Person Ever

Congratulations to Mark Alan Schwartz, a Chicago area lawyer who has tried very hard to keep secret his role in buying thousands of DC-area tax liens and then adding on arbitrary legal fees in some cases many times greater than the residents’ tax debt. Aeon Financial may or may not be Schwartz’s solo project, but it is odd how he seems to be the only actual human associated with it.

Think of it as the evil twin of Occupy Wall Street’s medical debt forgiveness program.

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43 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I know that this is probably not a revoke your license to practice law offense, but it should be.

    Along with confiscation of all assets, and a sentence to clean toilets in train/subway stations for the next 10 years.

  2. 2
    eldorado says:

    there aren’t enough tumbrels

  3. 3
    Gene108 says:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearson_v._Chung

    Sort of along the lines of Judge Roy Pearson’s pants lawsuit.

  4. 4
    Yatsuno says:

    This is why federal tax liens cannot be purchased. In fact it boggles my brain after the lien is filed how it can be transferred to another party. I mean, you’re just buying something that’s just going to sit there until the lien assessee does something. If they never move for 20 years too bad, you’re outside the realm of collectibility.

  5. 5
    Chris says:

    Think of it as the evil twin of Occupy Wall Street’s medical debt forgiveness program.

    I am still not over that program.

    These long-haired, tree-hugging, drum-circling, Very Unserious Dirty Fucking Hippies did more good with that alone than all of movement conservatism in fifty years.

  6. 6
    🎄 Martin says:

    Better question is why the government believes this is in the interest of the citizenry. Seems to be completely legal.

  7. 7
    jamick6000 says:

    speaking of assholes:
    https://twitter.com/PatrickHowleyDC/status/410123009840529408
    https://twitter.com/PatrickHowleyDC/status/410136014657560576

    interesting coming from a 20-something nerdy DC virgin who looks like a ventriloquist dummy

  8. 8
    Belafon says:

    I have never understood the purpose of liens, especially if they can be brought by someone with no legal attachment to property. I could understand the mortgage company having it, or the government, but that’s pretty much it for me.

  9. 9
    Starfish says:

    There are areas where ground rent exists. Basically, some cities have one party owning the ground and another owning the house. At some point this was to make houses affordable. However, during the boom, ground rents were cheap compared to the costs of houses.

    In Baltimore, people who owned the ground rents that were unpaid would be able to go after the properties so over a few hundred dollars in debt, they had a claim on properties worth at least tens of thousands of dollars if not more.

    The Baltimore Sun did a great series on this some years ago.

  10. 10
    J says:

    @Belafon: agree. sounds like that apart from the immense amount of blame attached to Schwartz, there is room for some blame to attach to the District for not doing a better job collecting its property taxes.

  11. 11
    Botsplainer says:

    @Yatsuno:

    This is why federal tax liens cannot be purchased. In fact it boggles my brain after the lien is filed how it can be transferred to another party. I mean, you’re just buying something that’s just going to sit there until the lien assessee does something. If they never move for 20 years too bad, you’re outside the realm of collectibility.

    A lot of jurisdictions (mine included) will let a tax lien purchaser foreclose on the liens. Typically, they like to wait several years to accrue some interest (its 12% here).

  12. 12
    shelly says:

    Worst Person Ever

    So many candidates for this title, these days

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    When the mandela turns, Schwartz is headed for a spot between E. Coli and dung beetle. That said, the DC government’s incompetence plays a role:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....-in-peril/

  14. 14
    Yatsuno says:

    @Chris: It’s still ongoing. I think you can actually donate to it, though at work and can’t research that right now.

    @Botsplainer: That’s interesting. AFAIK you can’t do that with a federal lien, but I could be wrong on that. Reminds me of the viatical settlement companies that made a killing during the pre-protease inhibitor HIV days. Talk about exploiting human misery.

  15. 15
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @jamick6000:
    What a fucking weird thing to tweet! I don’t normally use the twitters but I had to reply to that.

  16. 16
    Fester Addams says:

    One of those stories that makes you wonder if there’s a site like Kickstarter for taking up a collection to have someone beaten.

    I guess that’d be Asskickingstarter…

  17. 17
    jamick6000 says:

    yeah creepy

  18. 18
    Hungry Joe says:

    @jamick6000: The guy writes for the Daily Caller — where, apparently, the primary criterion for employment is being smug, bag-o’-rocks-dumb slime.

  19. 19
    Cassidy says:

    Is he employed by the NSA? Then he can’t be the worstest ever.

  20. 20
    GregB says:

    Give the guy credit for being able to type while wearing two wetsuits and a dildo.

  21. 21
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Here’s the thing with tax liens–I am not expert, but as best I can figure out, English Common Law had this kind of bias that if land wasn’t being used–just sitting there–and somebody else could make better use of it, there were legal ways to transfer ownership and/or control of the property. Adverse possession, for example. Or eminent domain.

    Part of the reason for tax liens is the following scenario: bigshot bidness-LLP buys prime commercial property during a boom. Bigshot LLC kicks out the current tenants (Yeah, that’s right, see me in court–suckahs!), razes the property, and starts raising loans to build to new super fantastic superfragilistic megadevelopment. Bigshot gets tax breaks, eminent domain takings, roads rebuilt/closed, etc.

    Boom ends in bust, all the financing gets withdrawn, and Bigshot now owns a crummy weed field right in the center of town.

    This sucks, and the town is hurting not just because it’s unsightly and a hazard but because they’ve been deprived of sales tax revenue, business license revenue, and economic activity.

    The “alligator” of property tax provides incentive for Bigshot to either move on developing the property OR FUCKING SELL IT presumably at the new, RE bust price where somebody can make the numbers work to improve the property.

    If you WON’T pay the taxes and WON’T sell it, selling tax liens provides another, LEGAL avenue for the property to change hands at a reduced rate and be improved and returned to the economic life of the town.

    Is this fair or right applied to occupied residential properties? Well, probably not, but it’s up to the legislative side to fashion a code by which homestead properties have additional protections.

    Unlike CA, where they gave commercial properties super s3kr!t eternal tax breaks, thus ensuring they can be kept empty for years at the owner’s pleasure.

  22. 22
    Johnnybuck says:

    The fulton county Tax Commissioner (Atlanta) sells his delinquent liens every year to the tune 10 to 20 million dollars. The reason is that the actual cost of collecting these funds, and the amount of time it takes (4 months) to bring the properties to tax sale makes it virtually impossible to collect in a timely manner.

    I’m not defending this practice in any way but when you consider that this is less than 5% of the tax digest and you’re talking about thousands of properties it is an efficient way to take care of the problem.

  23. 23
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Also, too, and maybe this makes me an asshole, but absent government making home prices stable and affordable, and pensions sound, and healthcare affordable, and all that good government shit that prevents horrible price shocks and dislocations, are you really entitled to keeping that suburban dream house forever? Like if you own property and it’s worth a lot of money and you don’t have the income to keep it up and won’t borrow against the property, etc? We feel bad for elderly people losing their homes and rightly so because it’s a psychological blow that can devastate them, yet some of these people losing homes were in their earning years, living at the edge of their means, now above them, but didn’t take affirmative steps to correct their situation. You can’t just blow off property tax bills. Appeal them, sure. Blow them off, no. Come on. We’re talking about grown people here.

    Full disclosure: Fuck yeah I rent.

  24. 24
    Elizabelle says:

    I’m glad they turned over attorney Schwartz’s rock.

    I hope bankruptcy and disbarment follows.

  25. 25
    Huggy Bear says:

    @jamick6000: Think Corbin Bernsen playing Mike Schmidt, Jon Lovitz playing Tommy Lasorda, and Dana Carvey playing George Will in the “Piffle or not Piffle” sketch. Now guess which part this little twit would be playing. You know what happens at the end right?

  26. 26
    GregB says:

    The above comment was in reference to admitted conservative rapist Partick Howley.

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    OMG. Reading the WaPost’s story.

    Schwartz, who has a medical degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, wrote: “Let’s litigate it. My pleasure.”

    Double professional degrees, and no empathy.

  28. 28
    MattR says:

    @Another Holocene Human: One of the examples in the WashPo article was a guy who had a $500 lien on the parking space in his condo complex which had not been paid because the DC tax assessor was sending the bills to the previous owner. Aeon tacked on $4200 of legal bills that a judge dropped to $952 after the guy spent a ton of time and money fighting it. It seeme like Aeon’s targets similar situations where they can buy relatively small liens on debt that has slipped through the cracks and then tack on exorbitant fees to make a profit,

  29. 29
    Citizen_X says:

    @jamick6000: Yeebus. “Hello, everybody, I’m a grotesque creep!”

  30. 30
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Citizen_X: Must be performance evaluation season at the Daily Caller. PHowley: “How can you say I’m not enhancing the company brand, when I’ve got so many responses on just one tweet?!?”

  31. 31
    Elizabelle says:

    WaPo again: Debt Collecting Machine

    … A second attorney on the case was Schwartz’s father, Spencer, who had been suspended from practice for a year in Illinois in 2001 for misconduct, including allowing his son to practice law before he was licensed, records show.

    Mark Schwartz had been reprimanded, too, for sending out ads that exaggerated his professional experience and accomplishments.

    …Records in Nevada in 2004 and Maryland the following year show that Aeon Properties — a predecessor to Aeon Financial — was managed by Schwartz’s younger sister, Stacey Lynn Schwartz, a clinical social worker. (WTF?!)

    In 2011, records filed in Kentucky for Aeon Financial list Schwartz as a director, along with his sister and a neighbor, Robert Mesch, who lives near Schwartz’s $1.7 million estate in Colorado.

    Mesch, a businessman who founded a private investment group, did not return calls seeking comment.

    These folks would be Westboro Baptist Church, if they were religious cons.

  32. 32
    Botsplainer says:

    @Chris:

    These long-haired, tree-hugging, drum-circling, Very Unserious Dirty Fucking Hippies did more good with that alone than all of movement conservatism in fifty years.

    I was genuinely surprised that any of those numbnuts figured out that they could pick up factored debt for pennies on the dollar. The stuff is pretty old usually and considered uncollectible, but it was a decent education effort.

  33. 33
    catclub says:

    @🎄 Martin: My understanding is the buyer of the lien essentially pays the tax – so the citizens who want tax revenue today benefit. The buyer of the lien then most likely collects – or the property is sold to them for the taxes owed.

  34. 34
    Botsplainer says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I hope bankruptcy and disbarment follows.

    The stupid fuck is claiming fees for representing an entity that he owns.

    Not allowed.

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Music to my ears.

  36. 36
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    This is standard practice among the financier crowd. There are vampire funds that buy up sovereign country debt then go to court to squeeze money out of impoverished countries.

  37. 37
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    @Another Holocene Human: We have a vacant property in the center of town that the owner won’t pay taxes on and the local gov’t won’t do anything about due to asbestos abatement costs. People have offered money to rehab the building for useful purposes but there it sits. Part of the problem is the local gov’t would have to take possession for a short period to make it happen and they won’t do it.

  38. 38
    liberal says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    We feel bad for elderly people losing their homes and rightly so because it’s a psychological blow that can devastate them…

    Funny thing is, people who feel sorry for elderly “owners” often (if not always) don’t feel sad for elderly tenants.

    BTW, you sound like someone who might be intelligent enough to support land value taxation.

  39. 39
    Fuzzy says:

    Worse person ever is a Jewish Lawyer. No way.

  40. 40
    mai naem says:

    The guy is an asshole for adding the legal fees but I would have no problem with him making the annual 18 percent or whatever for three years or whatever term. It should be a somewhat safe-ish investment where you can make more than you make with your money sitting in a bank. In AZ they sell the liens, then the lien buyer hangs onto it for a maximum of 3 years at which point they can foreclose on it. Part of this goes back to county/state/city governments not having enough funds to do the collections.

  41. 41
    kuvasz says:

    If RICO don’t get him, some Guido will.

  42. 42
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @liberal: Well, I am not one of them. Actually, I feel worse for tenants. I think it’s total crap that they can throw tenants in the street–quite literally–because the putative owner of the property fucked up and got foreclosed on. That’s garbage. The lease should carry over.

    In fact I’m rather mixed on elderly homeowners because upper middle class households that don’t want to pay taxes always trot out granny yet you know she has financial assets and so does the rest of the family. Meanwhile working class people lose the school nurse, the school therapist, the bus fees go up, free lunch eligibility goes down, but none of that matters because granny’s kids are grown.

  43. 43
    billB says:

    It is time, past time, for Social Justice. It is not acceptable in an advanced culture, to let dirtbag like this prosper. Our values need to over-arc mere petty greed, Eh?

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