In 2012, Paul Sabatino’s life took a turn for the worse. In a matter of months, ailing health forced him to step down from his supervisory position with New York State and rely on disability. Additionally, his mother, who was living with him and assisting with bills, passed away. Paul is divorced and has custody of his two sons, so the pressure was on him to make ends meet.
Paul was about three months behind on his mortgage when he started receiving solicitations from various lawyers and companies regarding loss mitigation. He reached out to his mortgage company for help, but they weren’t able to give him advice. A Florida-based law firm contacted Paul to offer assistance and because he was so stressed about losing his home, he decided to retain them. Paul recalls, “They said, ‘We can get you a modification, but you have to pay us to do it.’ ” When Paul expressed concern about using his limited funds for legal help instead of mortgage payments, the attorney told him, “You won’t get anywhere unless you hire someone.” Ultimately, Paul made $4,000, in payments to the Florida firm, but unfortunately they didn’t do anything they promised. As a result, Paul fell several more months behind on his mortgage and was eventually served with foreclosure papers.
At this point, he was out $4,000, the attorneys were no longer willing to do any more work, and Paul felt like he had hit dead end. Fortunately, the letter from the court regarding his first settlement conference included information about the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York (LASNNY) and its free legal services for foreclosure prevention. Upon contacting LASNNY, Paul was assigned to staff attorney, Shruti Joshi, and she quickly sent a demand letter to the Florida attorney on his behalf. Attorney Joshi was able to procure a full refund for Paul. She also successfully assisted him on a loan modification application and settled his foreclosure case. Attorney Joshi details, “It took the bank several months and multiple application reviews before they offered Paul a loan modification.” She adds, “It was important that we were tenacious in getting the bank to give us all the information and make sure the applications were being properly reviewed.” Paul says, “The process took so long that I felt like we were never going to get a modification. If it wasn’t for Shruti’s tireless efforts, I truly feel we would have lost our home.”
Thanks to Attorney Joshi’s help, the Sabatino family has been able to remain in their home. And while finances are still tight, Paul and his 19-year-old boys are making it work. Paul says, “Both boys still live at home and we’re working together as a family. They’ve really stepped up and taken on some house bills to help out.”