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American Casino: a NEW Documentary Expose’ on the Mortgage Industry’s Fraudulent Sub Prime Lending Practices and the Stories of their Victims. via [American Casino film site, Credit Writedowns, and Associated Press]

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American Casino movie trailer from Leslie and Andrew Cockburn on Vimeo

“American Casino is a powerful and shocking look at the subprime lending scandal. If you want to understand how the US financial system failed and how mortgage companies ripped off the poor, see this film.”

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist

“FASCINATING! A TERRIFIC documentary chronicling the subprime-mortgage mess and the financial collapse of the past two years…
With a rare cohesive power, the Cockburns fill in the lines of connection. They function a little like Raymond Chandler as he traces the corruption that produces, at the end of a long chain of circumstances, the lady in the lake…
The movie is a lucid and comprehensive picture of a rotten system.”

David Denby, The New Yorker

“sensationally effective”

New York Magazine

“Politicians and the media like to talk about the relationship between Wall Street and Main Street, but investigative journalist Leslie Cockburn’s debut feature gets to the guts of the matter, visiting defectors from Bear Stearns and Standard & Poor’s and other high-level players in the subprime mortgage gamble and, on the flipside, visiting the working-class Americans who were the unwitting chips on the table.”— Tribeca Festival programmers 2009

“It is rare that a documentary director has the privilege to shoot a film that, while in production, becomes the greatest story of our time.   The “worst case scenario”  of January 2008, when we began work on American Casino, turned into reality in the year that followed. We were able to follow our characters through Wall Street’s collapse, foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness. We watched whole neighborhoods ravaged by the subprime meltdown. I have spent much of my career filming in war zones and post apocalyptic societies — Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan. But I never expected such a disaster at home. To be there, with a camera, while it was happening, telling the story, was certainly the highlight of my career.”— Leslie Cockburn, Director

via [YouTube]

American Casino: How foreclosures breed mosquitoes

Posted by Edward Harrison

A number of new films have been produced chronicling the misadventures in America’s residential property markets and financial system.  One such story is American Casino.

I have yet to see the film.  However, below is a clip from the filmmakers Andrew and Leslie Cockburn on one unforeseen consequence of the recent financial crisis. Abandoned homes in newer California sub-divisions are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the threat of West Nile virus.

via [Credit Writedowns]

A Recent Mortgage Scandal news story:

Neighbors: Exec. moved into bank-owned beach home surrendered by Madoff duped couple

106 Malibu Colony Road

The Malibu Colony beach home, third house from left with a dark patio, was last owned by Lawrence and Linda Elins. The home’s value was recorded at $12 million when the property was transferred May 13, 2009, to Wells Fargo Bank. (Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman / California Coastal Records Project)
MALIBU, Calif. (AP) —

Wells Fargo & Co. has fired an executive who reportedly partied and stayed at a bank-owned $12 million beach house in the exclusive Malibu Colony, the bank said Monday.

Bank spokeswoman Jennifer Langan confirmed that Cheronda Guyton, a senior vice president, was the only employee involved in the alleged violation of company policy.

“We deeply regret the activities that have taken place as they do not reflect the conduct we expect of our team members,” the bank said in a statement.

A Wells Fargo & Co. executive who oversees foreclosed properties hosted parties and spent long summer weekends in a $12 million Malibu beach house, moving into the home just after it had been surrendered to Wells Fargo to satisfy debts, neighbors said.

Neighbors told the Los Angeles Times they saw Guyton’s family at the house and that it was used for at least one party where guests were ferried from a yacht.

The previous owners of the beachfront home in Malibu Colony — a densely built stretch of luxury homes that has been a favorite of celebrities over the years — were financially devastated in Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud scheme, real estate agent Irene Dazzan-Palmer said.

The couple signed the property over to Wells Fargo last spring, and the bank subsequently denied requests to show the house to prospective buyers, Dazzan-Palmer said.

Residents in the gated community told the Los Angeles Times that a woman they believe was Cheronda Guyton took up occupancy at the home in May. Residents said they obtained Guyton’s name from the community’s guards, who had issued her a homeowner’s parking pass.

Residents also wrote down the license plate number of a 2007 Volvo sport-utility vehicle they say was parked in the home’s garage. A check of state motor vehicle license plates by the Times found the vehicle was registered to Guyton.

Guyton is a Wells Fargo senior vice president responsible for foreclosed commercial properties, resident Phillip Roman said.

“It’s outrageous to take over a property like that, not make it available and then put someone from the bank in it,” said Roman, who lives a few homes away from the property.

Residents said Guyton, along with her husband and two children, often hosted guests at the home, including a large party the last weekend of August. Malibu Colony is about 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Wells Fargo said in a written statement that it would conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations by neighbors, but said it wouldn’t “discuss specific team member situations/issues for privacy reasons.”

Guyton’s home number is unlisted, and attempts to reach her at her Los Angeles office after work hours were unsuccessful.

The bank’s agreement with the prior owner required it to keep the home — a 3,800-square-foot, two-story structure built in the early 1990s — off the market for a period of time, Wells Fargo said in the statement. The bank said it planned to list the property for sale soon.


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