Heartlessness of Chase and Fannie Mae During and After My Foreclosure Process
The Front of My House
The Heartless and Evil Chase Bank and Fannie Mae
One person story dealing with foreclosure
As I alluded to in a previous article, I lost my home to foreclosure while incarcerated. To be honest, I began having payment problems when I was forced to work part-time. Due to the economic meltdown caused by the banks roughly 7-8 years ago, banks decided to show they had hearts by putting into place (most forced upon them by our government), ways for homeowners to circumvent, or at the least forestall, foreclosure. The bank I had to deal with, originally was Chase, undoubtedly one of the biggest perpetrators of our economic collapse. Of course the banks were foreclosing on so many homes, they did not know what to do with all of them, so it was in their best interest, also, to try to slow down their harvesting of people's homes. Regardless of how much and many that these new guidelines were put into place for their benefit and PR, I did not care as I utilized them to the best of my ability.
What I felt particularly helpful in giving me more time was their fastidious attention to EVERY detail on the forms I had to fill out and send to them. If I faxed them, their copies were not always clear and I had to start all over again. I will be honest and also say that to give me more time, I would sometimes not initial one of the sheets and then have to start all over again - well ....tit for tat. The majority of the times that they claimed I had missing info and my copies showed the info was there would have normally upset me but as I said, I wanted and needed the time.
After a number of months of back and forth, the paperwork was finally approved. Chase had offered me $3,000 to turn the keys over to them and sign the house over to them. Do not forget, all of their attorney fees were being put on top of my mortgage. So convenient for the bank. To me it would be like someone putting a gun to your head and making you pay for the bullets! A consumer group in Butler County, PA, "The Butler County Housing Authority" who I had started to work with in early 2013, told me not to utilize it, not yet anyway, as they did not understand it. I agreed as the way they originally made the offer, I would lose any and all equity in the house. I had honestly wanted to sell the house even before my financial problems started. When I had accepted a hospital pharmacy position outside of Boston and could afford to move, my home had a very bad fire 2 weeks before Christmas in 2012 and all my possessions had to be removed and put through an expensive reconditioning process and the majority of the house had to be gutted and rebuilt so I had to stay for that entire process and turn down the position. Thank goodness for fire insurance and State Farm. When the house reached a point I could sell it, I was quagmired down financially and now could not afford to move if I did sell the house. I wanted desperately to at least get to Pittsburgh so I could utilize public transportation but "The Butler Housing Authority" said there was no assistance with moving costs. I asked them at least 5-6 times to look into the $3,000 offer as the last one seemed to indicate that I could still sell the house. I thought if that was true, it was a good deal. They never did research it though they always told me they would.
In the meantime, I was notified in July of 2013, I would have a probation violation hearing before the very sarcastic Judge Todd. This perplexed me as the Allegheny County Probation Dept had called me and told me that their recommendation to Todd was "No Action". I asked what were the chances Todd would go along with this. They said it was almost always 100%. As I was to find out, he decided to have action and plenty of it.
At the same time, after at least two years of looking, I was offered a job working for a company doing drug research. It would be combining my chemistry and pharmacy degrees. As a future article will detail, I had lost desire to ever return to retail pharmacy so I was overjoyed with this offer, less than a week before my probation violation hearing. This meant that when I had my mortgage remodification hearing before Judge Horan, a very nice judge, in Butler County I would be allowed to keep my house and then sell it once I was financially stable again AND finally move onto Massachusetts and fulfill my long desired goal to live and work in that wonderful state.
I had a bad feeling about Judge Todd. I remembered him as sarcastic and impatient. The biggest irony in this is that I was not even driving for this "Driving with Suspended License" but details on that in another future article. I had done 60 days house arrest for the original charge which is why probation's recommendation was no action. I had a character witness at my original hearing, Joanne, who had known me since high school. She is a wonderful person, a stellar human being and also knows me as a pharmacist. Judge Todd constantly interrupted and bullied her until she started to cry. I never forgot - or will forgive - him for that.
Needless to say, "No Action" was translated to "Action" by Todd to the tune of 11 1/2 - 23 months in Allegheny County Jail. I had two attorneys representing me and neither could close their mouths, in shock and dismay.
I was handcuffed and led away to begin my sojourn into Allegheny County Jail. No one knew where I was let alone what happened which complicated dealing with the foreclosure even more so. My natural and intense capability to compartmentalize my life left me without anyone to help me. When I was handcuffed and led away, I not only handcuffed physically but it also "handcuffed" my newfound capability to save my home and rebuild my life.
Within a week of being at ACJ, I wrote PATF (Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force) to let them know where I was at. They, in turn, sent Aaron from ISS (Integrated Social Services) to see me at ACJ. I gave him the info I had about the house. This was September of 2013. Aaron said we would meet about once a week. I would see him once more in October then not again until January of 2014, so overloaded was his schedule. Since I could not be at the remodification hearing in October of 2013 and of course not start my new job, foreclosure became unavoidable. This I accepted with sadness and remorse. I did not harbor bad feelings with Chase, yet, as they were only doing what they had to do, up to this point.
In December of 2013, I thought of little else but my possessions in my house- well- ex-house - though not officially yet. Among the many, many things that were in my house: MY MOTHER'S ASHES, 2 church icons estimated to be 800-100 years old (story a little later on the one icon), over $50,000 of my mother's jewelry, my parents wedding rings, lots of Waterford crystal, Baccarat crystal, oil paintings, many Hummel figurines, some of which were century pieces, LLadro figurines, my many clothes mostly bought at SAKS and Niemen Marcus, and on and on.
The Icon story. This particular icon has been estimated to be at least 1,000 years old. It is on wood and represents Mother Mary holding the baby Christ. When my Baba, grandmother, my father's mother, had given birth to two girls, she followed this with several miscarriages that would have been boys. They being a well-respected and wealthy family in the town of Ruma, in Serbia, the church decided to have the head of the Serbian Church come to Ruma. They had my grandmother hold this sacred church icon and lead a town procession. The result was my father. The monetary value assigned to this icon was over $100,000 over 20 years ago. the value to my family - and myself - is priceless.
The night before my probation hearing, again feeling insecure, I took the icons along with much of my mother's jewelry, and packaged them in an innocuous box and placed it among the hundreds of boxes I had yet to unpack of my refurbished items from the fire. Even though I had been told I would be coming come, Judge Todd gave me a bad feeling and as I said before, my "premonition" ended up becoming validated.
I had reached Aaron via the phone late in December of 2013. He said he had spoken with the attorneys recently representing the bank/foreclosure and they said they had not moved forward with the foreclosure and would let him know. He was not worried and trusting. I was. Again, unfortunately, my "internal voice" was to be proved true.
By distancing myself from friends, and never being close to my brothers, I had put myself into a situation where I had to rely on an overworked Aaron. Even my born-again Christian brother, Nicky, was of no help. When I was worried about his health, I had asked the chaplain's office to try to reach him and see if he was OK. He finally got back with them and relayed info that he was better, he loved me but would not help me. I had not even asked for his help. Apparently if he is "born again", he needs to go through that birthing canal again. I go into detail in my book about my dysfunctional family.
I had been married for about 5 years to the sister, Yissel Gomez, of my boyfriend Eduard, so she could get her papers to come to the United States. This process cost me thousands of dollars not to mention the trips, social activities, jewelry, clothes etc. She was for much of that time like a sister. We had lots of fun. When my financial status deteriorated, so did her friendliness with me. Needless to say, she had no desire to help me with the house.
When I was working at the school in the jail, the wonderful program director, Jack Pischke, let me use his phone and e-mails to help me help myself with the house. Aaron was overworked and finally I could assume some control of the situation. I called Yissel. Our divorce (thank you Lord Jesus) was almost done so she could attempt to be civil again. She was cold but did say she had stopped at the house and saw that items were missing such as my I-Phone, large screen Samsung TV, hundreds of DVD's and holes in places where items used to be. I called the bank. This was roughly June of 2014. They said the house was technically still in my name so I had to do a police report. I called the Butler State Police. They said I had to be at the house to do the report. well.... that wasn't going to happen. They said someone else would suffice. I called Yissel and asked her to be at the house. She said she had no time and did not want to get involved. I rarely swear but "F*** you" was on the tip of my tongue. Another slight, I would "file" away for future reference. there was no one else to call who would have any idea what was missing so I had to let it go.
When I would send a terse letter to Aaron about his infrequent visits, he would come and we would have a (+) and constructive visit. The property manager, James Watson of Watson Realty, told Aaron there were no plans to have the house emptied and he would alert Aaron when we needed to get things out. There was no reason to believe that I would not be released on my minimum so the bank was giving us time hoping I would be at the house. This I was grateful for.
I should also mention that back in October of 2013, I did make an attempt, through Aaron, to have the house sold. Aaron said that no realtor that they contacted wanted to take on selling a house when the owner was in jail. This made no sense to me. When Chase suddenly moved forward with the foreclosure at the end of December 2013, I wrote to one realtor and in less than one week I got a letter from "Northwood Reality" that they would be happy to take it on. Unfortunately, the foreclosure had gone too far and there was not enough time to get the house on the market before the foreclosure became final. I will always be grateful for them for trying. This fortified my lifelong belief that other than my parents and Eduard, the only people/person I can count on to follow through is myself. It's unfortunate, but it's what I feel and know. God bless Aaron, but he just did not have the time or focus to write a simple letter to the most likely realtor. Oh well, it just reinforced my belief that the only person I can count on is myself.
In August, Judge Randal DUI Todd, decided not to let me out on my minimum. Forget the fact he went way beyond sentencing guidelines in the first place. He now decided to give me more "quality" time. I was described by many staff members at ACJ as a "model inmate" - a designation I will never use on a resume - was not allowed to leave on my minimum. I will leave heinous decisions regarding Allegheny County judges such as going beyond minimums for no reason other than to do it for another article. Regardless, this put a crimp into myself being at the house to remove my possessions out of the house. Again, Aaron communicated with the eviction legal assistant and the calculating property manager, JAMES WATSON, OWNER OF JAMES WATSON REALTY, and was told there were no plans to need my possessions to be removed. HHHHHHMMMMM.....Oh sure....foreboding and dark music should be playing right now.
Of course, that internal voice told me to worry but the "desperate me" wanted to believe them. I was looking for any hope to reduce my anxiety level. Again, the internal voice/guardian angel proved correct.
Aaron came to the school one day and said the property manager, JAMES WATSON, called and said the property had to be removed the next day in an 8 hour time frame. Not even my most negative self-talk predicted this small of a window. I thought once I was given permission to go to the house, I would be given a few days to set things up. This made no sense. It did once I knew of James Watson's desire to personally claim my possessions. I could not immediately reach my friend Pedro who was going to get a truck and help remove my possessions. Even Yissel had softened up and said she would help. Long story short, Aaron and some staff from the PATF and ISS went to the house the next day but only removed 3 carloads of items in 8 hours. I was and am grateful for that but it was a very small % of my items. When I had spoken to Aaron, I was under the impression that all loose items such as the packed boxes, icons, jewelry, mother's ashes, etc. would be removed so I did not pinpoint items to be removed. I had mentioned the icons but either they were already confiscated or there were just too many boxes to go through.
When I spoke to Aaron the next day, he let me down. He was pretty cold about "accepting" the fact that my items were lost and to move on.. I thanked him for his effort. I was going to move on alright. Aaron said the bank would never give another day. I said just watch me. I got the appropriate phone numbers and "convinced" them to do otherwise. The legal assistant, Joseph Gardellis, was quite amenable to my plight; James Watson was not. At this point it was not his decision. As I alluded to before, his reasons for not being helpful was and is for self-gratification = selling and profiting from my items. The eviction legal assistant from the foreclosure attorney's office, Joseph Gardellis was nice and appreciative of my circumstances.... at this point. Another day would be approved but this would take some time. This I was happy about as it gave me time to get released and make sure I was involved in the moving process. James Watson's plan to cash in on my possessions were circumvented.... this time. I wanted my "things" but so did Mr. James Watson as I was to find out.
Finally, I was released on October 28th, 2014. The first two weeks were focuses on just surviving, job search, catching up... and my possessions. The first week in November, Aaron was notified another day was approved and to let them know when we could get to the house. No end date was given to us to accomplish this. I lined up a truck, people and a company to buy furniture to lighten my load. Things such as the items I already mentioned and many more, were more important. As told, I sent a very friendly and detailed e-mail AND text AND voicemail to Mr. James Watson, asking for a particular Saturday or Sunday of a particular weekend to finally get my items removed. I did state that if either day were bad for him to let me know and I would pick a date suitable for him. I sent this e-mail on November 18th- please remember this date.
I heard nothing for over a week. I sent another e-mail for an update from him. In the meantime, the car I had been illegally driving was still at the house. I decided to let my friend Pedro to use it as now I had public transportation and was not going to tempt fate - or Judge Todd. About a week before Thanksgiving, we drove up to the house to retrieve the car. it was sitting there, patiently waiting for me. The house of course was no longer mine and it was bittersweet being back. I was glad to be moving on with my life but not with how I lost the house.
Pedro was the one who noticed the front door was ajar. I had not any intention of entering the house as I legally could not but I of course went to the front door to investigate. The brand new front door was battered and open. Aaron had said the house was in good shape and orderly when they were there in September. Now in November, the house looked like a bomb went off. My beloved grandfather clock was gone as were many items. The many boxes had been ripped open and gone through. Apparently "someone" had figured out I had hidden many items and had taken lots of time to look everywhere. My mother's ashes were gone.
Pedro and his girlfriend, Meghan, were aghast at the mess. I got tears in my eyes but that was replaced with anger when I saw that my mother's ashes were gone as were so many things. I knew one of my conservative neighbors had to see what happened as this took some time. I would leave their knowledge of what happened to be given to the police.
There were still a lot of boxes and items that I wanted and needed still in the house. Naïve me left a voicemail and text to James Watson, thinking he would be equally upset over this break-in. Of course I still did not realize he was the perpetrator of this "break-in". I called the attorneys office to see what I should do. He put me on hold and came back and said that my opportunity to take my items had been taken away on November 19th, the day after I had given official notice of my intent to get my items. How convenient for Mr. James Watson... what a coincidence.
Now Mr. Gardellis stated his tiredness of this situation. He did not know why Mr. James Watson did what he did but did not care. He said he would leave another opportunity to get my items to the approval of Mr.. Watson as he had to use his uncompensated time to let me in the house. I brought to Mr. Gardellis's attention that Mr. Watson had already been well compensated with the items he had already taken. Allowing Mr. Watson to give permission for me to retrieve the rest of my items was like putting a pyromaniac in charge of a match factory. I never heard anything. I did attempt to make a police report and was told to be at the house to do it. With much effort and walking for three hours, I got to the house. The officer who did show up was very unfriendly and refused to do a report. He said Watson had to do it. Sure, that made sense... like he was going to do that.
I have since originally writing this article found that Chase and the foreclosure attorneys, Phelan and Phelan, never did an ejection motion making it totally illegal for them to do anything with my property. The high profile attorney who found this out says I have a slam dunk case but he does not want to sue attorneys he may have to work with in some future time and that a few hundred thousand dollars of their percentage of a successful case is not enough.
I am now in the process of seeking legal help in rectifying this. As of today, January 23, 2015, I am awaiting feedback and a response from an attorney. This I can promise Chase, Fannie Mae and especially James Watson, I will never let this go.
I have tentatively found an attorney who may help. One was interested but felt his portion of the settlement- several hundred thousand dollars- was not enough. Boy oh boy. I am currently itemizing all the possessions that I can remember, I am up to over 413,000 dollars. The problem is that all my many receipts were thrown out by the property manager. Today is October 31,2015- Happy Halloween. Hopefully my next update will be positive information.
Allegheny County Courthouse
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Allegheny County Jail
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