Monday, May 16, 2016


For Release

May 16, 2016

Majority Press Office
Green, Benson & Moriarty Bill to Establish Penalties for Pyramid Scheme Participation Clears Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Daniel R. Benson and Paul Moriarty to establish criminal penalties for promoting or participating in a pyramid scheme recently was advanced by an Assembly committee.
            “Pyramid schemes make victims out of vulnerable people who often are just looking for a way to make ends meet,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Individuals who understand that an enterprise is a pyramid scheme and still choose to participate ought to face serious consequences.”
The bill (A-2004) would make it a crime of the second degree, generally punishable by five to ten years’ imprisonment, for a person to conspire with another person as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager of a pyramid promotional scheme. The bill also would permit the court to impose a fine of up to $250,000.  
Recruiting for a pyramid promotional scheme, or soliciting or inducing another person to participate in a scheme, would be a crime of the fourth degree, generally punishable by up to 18 months’ imprisonment.
Under the bill, a pyramid promotional scheme is defined as “any scheme or course of conduct by which a person gives consideration for the opportunity to receive compensation that is derived primarily from a person’s introduction of another person to participate in the scheme or course of conduct rather than from the sale of a product by a person introduced into the scheme or course of conduct.” 
“New Jersey is the only state in the nation without a statute that clearly categorizes a pyramid scheme as the crime that it is,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation is a declaration that this kind of deception will not be tolerated as a business model.”
“Outlining a clear definition of, and penalty for, a pyramid scheme in our state will make it easier for prosecutors to identify and file charges against individuals who participate in these scams with malicious intent,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Pyramid schemes ruin lives. New Jersey must ensure that those who engage in them face the appropriate punishment.”
            The measure was advanced on Thursday by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, of which Moriarty is chair.

Friday, May 13, 2016


For Release

May 12, 2016

Majority Press Office

Green & Eustace Bill to Clarify Law Concerning Homeowners Associations in Planned Real Estate Development Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Jerry Green and Tim Eustace to modify regulations regarding planned real estate developments and homeowners associations was approved Thursday by the Assembly Housing and Economic Development Committee.

The sponsors cited recent court decisions as the motive for sponsoring the legislation this session and indicated a need for clarification and adjustment to the laws in this area.

“A neighborhood is stronger when neighbors care and are involved. These homeowners have a vested interest in these communities,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), who chairs the committee. “This bill would help to ensure homeowners remain clear on their investment and have a seat at the table when decisions are made for their communities.”

“It shouldn’t take litigation for homeowners in these communities to know where they stand,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Making these adjustments to our current laws ensures there is no confusion about what these homeowners are entitled to, and that the governing bodies that oversee these communities do not inadvertently deny these homeowners their rights.”

The bill (A-2027) would make several modifications to the laws which regulate planned real estate developments and the homeowners’ associations formed to manage the commonly-owned property in such communities.

The bill would prohibit the mere titling of common property in the name of the association from being construed as diminishing the ownership interests of unit owners in the common or shared elements and facilities of a planned community.

The bill would also require that common property ownership interest be equal proportionately to the obligation of each unit owner to pay for the maintenance of the common property, and that the sum of the common property interests in the community is not to exceed 100 percent.

The bill also would require membership in the homeowners association to be inherent for a purchaser of a home in such a planned community.

The bill would provide standards for homeowners’ associations concerning access to records and elections of members to the governing boards of associations. The bill would also eliminate closed-meeting working sessions of an association's governing board to reflect the similar law currently applicable to public governing bodies. The bill would also provide a recall procedure which would authorize the removal of elected governing board members.

Lastly, the bill would direct the Commissioner of Community Affairs, which provides oversight to the associations, to distribute guidelines on the election procedures and to promulgate, within 60 days, any rules or regulations that may be necessary to effectuate the provisions.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.


For Release

May 12, 2016

Majority Press Office

Jasey, Green, Holley & Muoio Bill to Ensure Continuation of Foreclosure Mediation Program to Combat NJ’s Ongoing Foreclosure Crisis Approved by Assembly Panel

New Jersey had highest rate of foreclosures in the nation in 2015

 (TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Jerry Green, Jamel Holley and Elizabeth Muoio to codify the state’s Foreclosure Mediation Program into law to help reduce the staggering number of foreclosures in the state and help homeowners keep their homes was released Thursday by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.

The bill (A-1029) would codify the Foreclosure Mediation Program into state law. The program was established in 2009 by the New Jersey Judiciary in response to an alarming increase in residential foreclosures. New Jersey had the highest rate of foreclosures in the nation in 2015.

“Foreclosures not only affect homeowners, but neighborhoods and the state as a whole,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “Last year we led the country in foreclosures. The mediation services provided by this program can help homeowners avoid foreclosure and reinvigorate our housing market by reducing our dismal foreclosure rates. It is essential that we keep these services going.”

“Foreclosures wreak havoc on families and communities,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This bill would help ensure that the mediation services provided under the program continue to be available to homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes.”

“No homeowner wants to lose their home,” said Holley (D-Union). “Making this program a permanent fixture would ensure that homeowners facing foreclosure will always have an alternative. It would also help chip away at the foreclosure crisis that has loomed over the state for too long.”

“The city of Trenton had the second-highest metro foreclosure rate in the country last year, which makes any attempt at progress even more challenging,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This bill ensures that the program will endure so that homeowners can take advantage of these mediation services, which will not only help homeowners but the municipalities where they live.”

The bill would require that, at the time the homeowner-borrower receives a notice of intention to foreclose, pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1995, c.244 (C.2A:50-56), a homeowner-borrower must receive written notice of the option to participate in the Foreclosure Mediation Program. Upon the filing of a mortgage foreclosure complaint against an eligible property, the homeowner-borrower must again receive written notice of the option to participate in the Foreclosure Mediation Program. The written notice must be available in both English and Spanish.

The bill would authorize eligible homeowners to submit a mediation request, thereby initiating the process of scheduling a mediation session with their lender. Along with the mediation request, the homeowner may have to submit additional information that may be necessary for creating a loan modification, or other agreement, but will not have to pay any fees to participate in the program.

The bill would also create a dedicated, non-lapsing fund within the General Fund to be known as the “Foreclosure Mediation Fund.” The fund would be comprised of receipts equaling $50 from every foreclosure complaint filing fee, along with all fines imposed on lenders for noncompliance with obligations of the mediation program under the bill. Pursuant to R.1:43 of the Rules of Court, foreclosure complaint filing fees have recently increased from $200 to $250. Instead of establishing those fees at $250, this bill would allow the judicial branch to maintain the role of determining foreclosure complaint filing fee levels, so long as $50 of each fee is contributed to the fund.