Photos: Ashmeen Modikhan\Ballotpedia
Cap: Frank Cassisi, the lawyer notorious for filing forged documents in NY State Supreme Court and in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District (Photo: CassisiLaw.com)
By Milton Allimadi
Ashmeen Modikhan, (shown below) the victim of “foreclosures scams,” on her two properties, has asked the judge presiding over her $5 million personal injury case to report Frank Cassisi, a lawyer who appears to have filed numerous forged documents in her cases, to the New York State Attorney General.
Modikhan at her Magnolia Court home
Modikhan says she was the victim of fraudulent foreclosures when the New York State Supreme Court, in Queens County, let “phony” lenders initiate the lawsuits even though they lacked the promissory notes and mortgages as required by law. Since the initial lawsuits on her two properties were illegal—the plaintiffs lacked standing—the State court therefore lacked jurisdiction.
This means that when Modikhan, on the advice of a lawyer named Darren Aronow—whom she’s now suing—went to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York, that court also lacked jurisdiction. However, both courts ignored the jurisdiction issue—which can be invoked at any stage of a court proceeding—and allowed the “phony” lenders to file false proofs of claim (POCs) with fabricated assignments of the notes, Modikhan says.
Presenting a false POC is a crime punishable by a $500,000 fine, five years imprisonment, or both.
Modikhan had been fighting two illegal foreclosure cases, one against her property in the Howard Beach section of Queens and the other in Magnolia Court, in the same borough. Ultimately, Judge Jil Mazer-Marino in the Bankruptcy court ignored the fact that the plaintiffs had filed false POCs through a lawyer named Courtney Williams, with the Gross Polowy firm, which wrongfully gave the supposed “creditors” standing. Williams had also filed false POCs in State Supreme court before Modikhan sought bankruptcy protection.
Once the supposed “creditors” wrongfully established standing, Judge Mazer-Marino lifted the stay on the sale of Modikhan’s properties, as detailed in previous Black Star News articles. By this time the supposed “creditors” were being represented by the Friedman Vartolo law firm—the fifth law firm representing entities going after Modikhan’s properties—while Modikhan was representing herself.
The Friedman Vartolo firm, in October 2022, bought the Howard Beach condominium, records show. The Magnolia Court home, where Modikhan lives, was sold in a murky “auction” on June 23, 2023 where no one showed up for the auction. The documents on the record related to the sales seem to have questionable signatures as reported in a previous Black Star News article.
Years after Modikhan was already fighting for her properties, she sustained a career-ending injury in 2014. She was an employee of American Airlines when the door of a bus operated by Golden Touch Transportation of New York Inc., to ferry employees between terminals and parking lots, slammed prematurely, crushing her right hand. She now lives in constant agony with the pain affecting her hand, her entire arm, her shoulder and neck.
Modikhan hired Cassisi and filed a $5 million lawsuit against Golden Touch Transportation in 2015.
Judge Jil Mazer-Marino
Since Modikhan was in Bankruptcy court, Judge Mazer-Marino approved the chapter 7 trustee Alan Nisselson’s motion to settle Modikhan’s personal injury lawsuit for a mere $500,000, concluding that it was part of her estate—notwithstanding the fact that both the State court and Bankruptcy court lacked jurisdiction, given that the original foreclosure actions were illegal. What’s more, notwithstanding lack of jurisdiction, the supposed creditors filed false POCs with fabricated assignments.
Mazer-Marino also let Nisselson hire Cassisi as his own counsel. The judge approved Cassisi’s legal fees of $166,666.66. Presumably, some of the balance from the $500,000 would go toward the trustee Nisselson’s fees; he’d filed court papers asking that his firm’s fees be increased from $700 to $1,000 per hour. Judge Mazer-Marino approved Nisselson’s motion that Modikhan be paid a mere $25,000 from the $500,000 settlement, the exempted amount allowed. “This is daylight robbery of my properties and my personal injury lawsuit,” Modikhan said. “The plaintiffs are debt collectors, servicers, not creditors with no standing to foreclose. But since they are now wrongfully in possession of my properties why is the trustee still after my personal injury case?”
After Nisselson hired Cassisi, Modikhan’s former lawyer filed papers in Bankruptcy court to formalize the representation. In reviewing the documents, Black Star News discovered that Cassisi had filed a forged retainer agreement in the Bankruptcy court, as detailed in previous articles. This prompted Black Star News to conduct a review of all documents filed by Cassisi’s firm in the personal injury case in State court.
Sure enough, this publication discovered numerous forged documents filed by Cassisi’s firm.
During a Bankruptcy court hearing, that was attended by this reporter via Zoom, Judge Mazer-Marino rejected Modikhan’s request that she report Cassisi to the federal authorities for filing the forged retainer agreement, which is a criminal offense.
Neither Cassisi, nor his associate Timothy J. Tenke, responded to numerous e-mail messages seeking comment about the forged papers in both the Bankruptcy and State courts. Marguerite Grays, the Administrative Judge, also didn’t respond to previous e-mail messages seeking comment.
Meanwhile, Tenke, Cassisi’s associate, has filed papers asking Judge Maurice Muir, who is presiding over Modikhan’s $5 million personal injury case in the State court, to remove Modikhan as the plaintiff and replace her with the chapter 7 trustee Nisselson.
Judge Maurice Muir has ordered the next hearing on the case for Oct. 19, 2023.
Modikhan at her Howard Beach home
Meanwhile, Modikhan wrote a letter dated Aug. 25, 2023 to Judge Muir, asking him to report Cassisi for filing the forged papers in the State court. “Justice Muir I know that Bankruptcy Court is not your jurisdiction but since Mr. Cassisi also filed forged documents in State Court could you please refer him for criminal investigation by New York State Attorney General Hon. Letitia James, and Queens DA Melinda Katz and New York Police Department?” Modikhan wrote in part, in the letter.
Both Judge Muir and Lucian Chalfen, spokesperson for the New York Unified Courts system, didn’t respond to an e-mail message Friday from Black Star News seeking comment about Modikhan’s letter.
Both Cassisi and Tenke, his associate, also didn’t respond to an e-mail message Friday from Black Star News seeking comment about the Modikhan letter to Judge Muir. “I can’t believe what has been going on in our justice systems by officers of the court and the courts are turning a willful blind-eye. I pray that Judge Muir will do the right thing on October 19,” Modikhan said.