posted on February 22, 2010 16:55
Sometimes a story floats in over the transom that’s just too incredible to pass up; – this one came at the expense of Bank of America, which certainly doesn’t need any more headaches after being sued by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for fraud, plus a whooping $16 billion.
Charlie Cordosa, who used to have a job in construction but is now unemployed, lives in Boston; a couple of years ago Charlie and his wife, Maria, used their life savings to buy a retirement home in Florida, which they’ve been renting, I guess, to make ends meet.
Charlie, naturally, pleaded with the Bank of America not to foreclose on his Florida home, but to no avail – the bank’s foreclosure team showed up, moved out his furniture and padlocked the door.
There was just one problem: Charlie’s house was paid for free and clear. Bank of America didn’t hold a mortgage on his house. In fact, Bank of America’s foreclosure team had the wrong house entirely. (It seems the address in Bank of America’s files was wrong and it should have foreclosed on a house a block away.)
But, as Charlie found out, explaining that to a mortgage officer bent on repossession was hard to do. He also talked to Bank of America’s real estate agent who agreed with Charlie the bank was repossessing the wrong house. But the realtor had no more luck straightening out the mess than Charlie. The bank charged ahead and foreclosed anyway.
Next, Charlie drove down from Boston to Tampa and found himself padlocked out of his own home. He pried open the back door, cut the padlock and hired a lawyer. He got his house back from the bank, without a tenant, and he’s still trying to recover his papers and pictures.
This is a pretty odd story about what’s happened to free market capitalism in America: The powers that be in Washington puts the thumb-screws on Bank of America to bail out Merrill Lynch; Bank of America did, then teetered on the verge of bankruptcy itself until it got bailed out itself with $45 billion from taxpayers. Next the CEO of the bank got sued for fraud (for doing just what the government wanted). Then the bank, recovering due to taxpayers’ generosity, gave the executives billions of dollars in bonuses for a job well done. Then the same executives foreclose on the wrong guy and refuse to stop even when he tells them they’ve got the wrong house.
Of course, now, Charlie’s suing Bank of America. Imagine sitting on the jury and listening to Charlie’s attorney tell his story, saying, ‘Last month Bank of America gave $4 billion in bonuses to its executives for their good work. Now, let’s talk about what they ought to pay to Charlie for what they did to him.’
I can hear the debate in the jury room on the verdict:
Juror #1: Well, Charlie’s sued for $500,000 – that sounds pretty reasonable.
Juror #2: I’ve got a better idea. Let’s give him $4 billion – the same amount those scoundrels paid themselves.