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The Standoff, LLC v. Bethea

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 19, 2013

THE STANDOFF, LLC, [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOANNE BETHEA, Defendant-Appellant, and LEROY BETHEA, LEXINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE CORP., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 4, 2013.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Union County, Docket No. F-314-08.

Joanne Bethea, appellant pro se.

Knuckles, Komosinski, & Elliott, LLP, attorneys for respondent (Fincey John, on the brief).

Before Judges Fisher and Waugh.

PER CURIAM.

Defendant Joanne Bethea appeals the Chancery Division's June 29, 2012 order denying her application to vacate the default judgment of foreclosure entered on July 18, 2011, and the resulting sheriff's sale of the foreclosed property on April 11, 2012. We affirm.

I.

We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.

In February 2007, Bethea and her husband executed a promissory note to FGC Commercial Mortgage Finance d/b/a Fremont Mortgage and a related mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS), as FGC's nominee. They defaulted on mortgage payments beginning in September of the same year.

MERS assigned the mortgage to Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corp. at the beginning of January 2008. Citigroup commenced an action to foreclose the mortgage by filing a complaint on January 3, 2008. A process server attempted to serve the summons and complaint at the mortgaged premises on January 14, 15, and 17, but was unsuccessful. The documents were then served by regular and certified mail. The certified mail was returned as "unclaimed, " but the regular mail was not returned.

Default was entered on June 17, 2008. Bethea and her husband were served with notice of the default. Citigroup applied for a final judgment of foreclosure, which was denied because the service history suggested that Bethea and her husband did not reside at the mortgaged premises. The judge noted that defendants should have been served by publication.

The loan was then sold to MDG, LLC, and the mortgage was assigned to MDG. MDG published notice of the suit in a local paper on October 29, 2009. It was eventually substituted as plaintiff in January 2010, although by then, the mortgage and note had been assigned to The Standoff, LLC. Default based on service by publication was entered on January 4, 2010, and served on ...


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