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The Sentinel as Wells Fargo Critic? Two Articles in Two Days
by Robert Norse
Friday Sep 7th, 2012 8:25 AM
While the SCPD police blog is bragging about homeless sweeps destroying hundreds of campsites for those who have no shelter alternatives, and cty officials are busy posting areas as "forbidden no trespass" zones used by homeless people for survival camping, the Wells Fargo Foreclosure machine is busy ripping off middle-class folks struggling to keep above water as the election eve circus bangs on, ignoring these issues. The Sentinel, for the first time in several years, is actually focusing on a case--albeit one in Monterey County.
A front-page story in yesterday's Santa Cruz Sentinel highlighted a Wells Fargo foreclosure in Royal Oaks, a community near Salinas in Monterey County. This was a front-page above-the-fold story.

Today the Sentinel printed a second story going into some detail about what is clearly Wells Fargo's abusive practice on a case just a county away.

If local activists have info about Wells Fargo-seized homes and businesses in Santa Cruz, it would helpful to know it--both for the community (not to mention those of us who have been scapegoated for the educational takeover of the Wells Fargo Bank at 75 River St.).


YESTERDAY'S STORY

See http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_21476494/battle-homefront for pictures and comments.

Battle on the homefront: Royal Oaks couple defies Wells Fargo eviction action, turns to social media for help
By DONNA JONES - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 09/05/2012 07:49:03 PM PDT

Click photo to enlarge
The American dream of owning their own home may be a thing of the past... (SHMUEL THALER/SENTINEL)

ROYAL OAKS - Ed and Brandie Hannon waited to be arrested Wednesday.

After unsuccessfully seeking a loan modification from Wells Fargo Bank, the couple was evicted from their Tuckahoe Terrace home of 14 years a week ago. But the Hannons re-occupied the house over the weekend, an act they acknowledge is illegal.

The couple is desperate, and hopes their action will persuade Wells Fargo to take another look at their case.

"This is our home," said Ed Hannon. "We do not want to leave."

Update to this story: Medical crisis, toxic loan cost Royal Oaks home; lottery winnings not enough to cover expenses, couple says

Talking about their trouble Wednesday, the Hannons were often close to tears. They reached out to touch each other and hold hands.

They bought the house when their 17-year-old son was 3 and raised him there.

Four years ago, Ed, who had been diagnosed with Type I diabetes as a 14-year-old, experienced kidney failure. Then 40, he became disabled and could no longer work as a mechanic. Medical bills mounted. Brandie, 36, works as a planner for an interior designer, but making a $3,000 monthly mortgage payment was a struggle on her salary alone.

"We ended up exhausting our resources," Brandie said.

Three years ago, the couple began working with Wells Fargo to modify their loan. Brandie said the process dragged on. The bank lost paperwork. She said she lost count of how many times they had to start over.

At one point, she said they were offered a principal reduction that would drop the monthly payment to $1,900. They tried to make a payment at an Aptos branch the next day, but were told the paperwork hadn't been processed and to wait. Then they were informed the program had been discontinued, and they were back to square one.

Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda said the bank tried to help the Hannons. He declined to provide specifics, citing customer privacy. But he said in general loan modifications can be made by reducing interest rates or forgiving principal or setting it aside until the home is sold. In all cases, the borrower has to be able to afford the new mortgage payment.

As of June, the bank had more than 780,000 customers in either trial or permanent loan modification.

"We worked with the Hannons for more than two years in an effort to determine if there were any options that would allow them to remain in their home," Goyda said. "After a thorough review of their information, we were not successful."

Goyda said after foreclosure in June 2011, the bank continued to review the Hannons' case, and postponed eviction three times so they could find new housing.

The Hannons said the Aug. 29 eviction caught them off guard. In the past when they received eviction notices, they had been able to persuade bank officials to review their case. They thought that would happen again.

Elvia Quintero, who supervises the Civil Unit of the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, said a notice warning of the eviction was posted at the property Aug. 23, a practice designed to give people time to pack up.

Brandi Hannon disputes that. She said they had no warning at all.

Ed Hannon, who is on a waiting list for a kidney transplant and spends nearly four hours three times a week in dialysis, was home alone when a Monterey County deputy showed up and told him he had to leave immediately or be arrested. Brandie rushed home from work to pick him up. The couple left most of their possessions behind.

"That first night at Ed's sister's house, we shared a twin bed, our two dogs on the floor," Brandie said. "I closed my eyes and thought 'I just don't want to wake up to this tomorrow.'"

But on Saturday, when the Hannons discovered workers were measuring the living room for new carpet, they decided to up the ante. They moved back in, and made a video for YouTube asking viewers to call Wells Fargo officials and plead their case.

Brandie said a bank official has since called and told them authorities have been told of their illegal entry.

Public pressure is all they have left, Brandie said.

"(Wells Fargo) puts profits before people and families," she said. "Of course, they are a business and that's what they do. But we're an extreme case, and we've shown we can pay if they'd work with us."

Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones on Twitter: @DonnaJonesSCS



TODAY'S STORY

See http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/watsonville/ci_21486486/medical-crisis-and-toxic-loan-cost-royal-oaks for pictures and comments.

Medical crisis and toxic loan cost Royal Oaks couple home: Lottery winnings not enough to cover expenses, couple says
By Donna Jones djones [at] santacruzsentinel.com
Posted: 09/06/2012 08:16:56 PM PDT

ROYAL OAKS -- A Royal Oaks man, defying a court order to leave the foreclosed home he owns with his wife, won a jackpot in the California Lottery in the 1990s.

But the winnings couldn't save the couple's home.

Ed and Brandie Hannon remained in the Tuckahoe Court home Thursday as a Sentinel story touched off a debate about the couple's circumstances.

The couple says Wells Fargo didn't try hard enough to help them avoid foreclosure when they fell on hard times after Ed suffered kidney failure four years ago.

A Wells Fargo representative said the bank worked unsuccessfully for two years to find a solution for the Hannons, and allowed them to stay in the home for more than year after a June 2011 foreclosure.

Sentinel readers, commenting online, were divided in their sympathies.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Office enforced an eviction order Aug. 29, but the couple re-occupied their home on Saturday and say they are willing to face the consequences of their illegal action if their desperation moves Wells Fargo to reconsider.

The Sheriff's Office had not taken further action to remove the couple from the home as of Thursday evening.

Brandie Hannon confirmed Thursday that her husband, Ed, won a lottery jackpot in the 1990s. She declined to provide the exact amount of the payout, saying past publicity put her family's safety at risk. But she said the winnings are being paid in an annuity that ends within three
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years. She said much of the money has been eaten up by expenses brought on by her husband's health problems. In addition to being born with one kidney, Ed Hannon lost a leg in a car accident at age 18 and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 14.

Brandie also said the couple offered to put the final annuity payments toward their Wells Fargo mortgage, but the bank declined.

A lottery official was unable to immediately provide information about Ed's winnings Thursday.

The Hannons bought the four-bedroom home in a rural neighborhood of North Monterey County for $349,000 in 1998, and refinanced twice since then, according to Brandie. Most recently, in 2006, they borrowed $620,000 with an option adjustable interest rate loan to fix up the house. The loans, considered among the most toxic contributors to the mortgage meltdown, allowed borrowers to defer interest.

Brandie said their payment covered 3 percent of the interest, and another 4 percent was tacked onto the principal. As their income fell after Ed's illness prevented him from working, their mortgage debt grew.

Brandie said the couple didn't understand how the loan worked. But like many others, they also expected the value of their house to climb or at the very least remain stable. And like others, it was a gamble that didn't pay off.

According to the Monterey County Assessor's Office, the house is assessed at $382,500.

In the past year, the Hannons filed separately for bankruptcy in federal court. Both cases have since been dismissed.

According to documents filed by Wells Fargo related to Ed's bankruptcy claim, the Hannons owed $724,136, which included the mortgage and unspecified costs.

Wells Fargo paid $339,374 for the property at the trustee's sale in June 2011.

The Hannons said they only ran into trouble after Ed became too ill to work as a mechanic. Medical bills added to the burden. With only Brandie's salary as a planner for an interior designer, the Hannons struggled to pay the mortgage and asked Wells Fargo for help. Brandie said they sought to reduce their monthly payments, not the principal they owed, until Ed could get back on his feet.

Ed is on a transplant list and spends almost four hours in dialysis three times a week, she said. Medicare has helped cover costs for the past two years, but during the first two years they had to cover medical expenses out of pocket, she said. Dialysis alone costs about $1,900 a treatment, she said. Prescription drugs ran more than $2,000 a month.

"I wish to God Ed hadn't gotten sick, and not because we'd have more money, but because then my husband wouldn't be sick," Brandie said. "I'd trade everything I have, everything I had, everything I will have for him to be healthy."

Follow Sentinel reporter Donna Jones at Twitter.com/DonnaJonesSCS

PLEASE POST ANY NEW LOCAL INFO YOU HAVE ON WELLS FARGO'S ACTIVITIES.