Four GuardHill employees allegedly stole client data from ex-employer: lawsuit

Emic Corp. alleges loan originators turned over confidential info to new boss
By E.B. Solomont | May 23, 2016 07:00AM

UPDATED: May 23, 10:58 a.m.: Four loan originators at GuardHill Financial Corp. are being sued by Emic Corp., the successor to Apple Mortgage, for allegedly stealing confidential client information and turning over that data to their new employer.

The suit – which names ex-employees Richard Barenblatt, David Breitstein, Keith Furer and Kevin Ungar, as well as GuardHill – claims that Guardhill incentivized its new hires to steal customer data, including the “personal financial information of borrowers and potential borrowers.” After secretly copying the confidential information, the suit says they “deleted portions thereof from [their former employer’s] computer network, in an obvious attempt to avoid detection.”

Emic, known until 2014 as Apple Mortgage Corp., has sued the employees before.

In December 2013, Apple Mortgage filed a lawsuit in federal court on the same grounds, seeking $15 million in damages. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge in February because Apple Mortgage sold its assets in February 2014 to Sterling National Bank, and Apple Mortgage’s claims were not part of that transaction. The judge also dismissed the defendants’ counterclaims, in which they argued that they were collectively owed $182,639 in unpaid commission.

In a statement, GuardHill denied the allegations and said the suit was being brought by a “defunct mortgage company.”

“Apple pursued this matter in Federal court, only to see all of its claims dismissed, in their entirety, earlier this year,” the company said. “GuardHill and the other defendants deny any misconduct, deny that Apple – which went out of business shortly after the employees left – was damaged in any way, and will move to dismiss this new lawsuit.”

Apple Mortgage’s owner, Eric Applebaum, is now a senior vice president at Sterling National Bank. Apple Mortgage changed its name to Emic in July 2014.

The latest suit claims the ex-employees resigned from Apple Mortgage and began working at GuardHill in September 2013. During Labor Day weekend that year, Breitstein, Furer and Ungar allegedly met in Apple Mortgage’s offices “when they knew no one would be around” in order to steal confidential documents, including mortgage applications that had applicants’ names, social security numbers and other private data, the lawsuit alleges.

The suit claims that GuardHill President Alan Rosenbaum never ordered anyone at the company to inspect its computer system to investigate allegations against the new hires or against GuardHill.

As part of the 2013 lawsuit, the defendants conceded that prior to resigning from Apple, “they took Outlook contact lists from Apple and provided them to GuardHill, which then sent e-mails to such contacts announcing the Individual Defendants’ new affiliation with GuardHill,” according to court documents.

The article was updated to include a statement from GuardHill.