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The Story Behind Vacant Lot at 350 Abbott

There is a vacancy at 350 Abbott Road in South Buffalo these days. The issue is not the asking price for the two-story frame house that had been there since 1920. The fact is, the house is no longer there, the victim of an ill-intentioned owner and later an investment company that operated an illegal scheme.

The vacant lot at 350 Abbott was created by people interested in milking the property for financial gain, eventually leading to mortgage fraud charges against Joshua and Jessica Douchette as part of a larger scheme uncovered by then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

But the alleged mortgage scammers were able to use the property at 350 Abbott for their scheme because of one of its owners, Kathleen Martin, a quality control officer with the M & T Bank mortgage department.

Martin purchased 350 Abbott in 1989 when it was still a two-story frame house. After deciding to move to Orchard Park in 1993, Martin turned the property into a rental property and then refinanced it using her own bank. Many refinance loans allow an individual to pull out cash from their equity.

Martin purchased a condo in Largo, Fla.

According to public records and insider knowledge, Martin paid off M & T Bank, the mortgage holder on the property, and went to another lender, Well Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc., to refinance again.

She didn't stiff M & T, where she worked, but she didn't pay Wells Fargo and in July of 2004, Wells Fargo foreclosed on the property and the court ruled the plaintiffs could recover from Kathleen Martin the "whole deficiency or so much thereof as the court may determine to be just and equitable of the mortgage debt."

A source familiar with the history of the refinancing said Martin may not have made a single payment.

When Martin was asked by a reporter whether she made any payments to Wells Fargo after she refinanced 350 Abbott, she responded: "Are you going to ask me personal financial questions?" The reporter said "yes," and asked her to comment on her ownership of the property, which no longer exists. She took his phone number, but never called back.

After the foreclosure in 2004, 350 Abbott was put up for sale and purchased by the Douchettes, who also, like Martin did not make mortgage payments.

Meantime, since the days of Martin's ownership, the property deteriorated.

The end for the frame house at 350 Abbott Road came after the property was purchased by a dentist in 2010, and he later had the property demolished, leaving the now vacant lot on Abbott where a home had once stood.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Jul 16, 2013