Wells Fargo typo leads to foreclosure – victim dies in court

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Larry Delassus, disabled veteran, at a seniors’ get-together last August

On the morning of Dec. 19, 2012, in a Torrance courtroom, Larry Delassus’ heart stopped as he watched his attorney argue his negligence and discrimination case against banking behemoth Wells Fargo.

His death came more than two years after Wells Fargo mistakenly mixed up his Hermosa Beach address with that of a neighbor in the same condo complex. The bank’s typo led Wells Fargo to demand that Delassus pay $13,361.90 ­— two years of late property taxes the bank said it had paid on his behalf in order to keep his Wells Fargo mortgage afloat.

But Delassus, a quiet man who suffered from the rare blood-clot disorder Budd-Chiari syndrome and was often hospitalized, didn’t owe a penny in taxes.

One of his neighbors, whose condo “parcel number” was two digits different from Delassus’, owed the back taxes…

Delassus and his attorney did not discover until May 2010 that a mis-entered number had dragged Delassus into this spiral. As court documents obtained by L.A. Weekly show, after admitting its error, Wells Fargo foreclosed on Delassus anyway and sold his condo.

Delassus had to move to a tiny apartment in an assisted-living home in Carson.

Friends say he didn’t die of heart disease that day in court, as the coroner found. He was, they believe, killed by a system so inhumane that it could not undo a devastating piece of red tape the system itself created…

He really thought he was gonna get his place back,” Popovich says. “He thought if he told the truth, they could do something for him.”

RTFA. Wander through the chronology. Understand that Wells Fargo continued their case against Delassus even after it was clear their own screwup caused the conflict.

And the judge admits, now, she was going to side with Wells Fargo!

Pope evicts monks from Rome’s lap-dance monastery

It sounds like something out of Father Ted: a renowned monastery in Rome where monks staged concerts featuring a lap-dancer-turned-nun and opened a hotel with a 24-hour limousine service has been shut down by the pope.

As part of Benedict XVI’s crackdown on “loose living” within the Catholic church, 20 or so Cistercian monks are now being evicted from the monastery at the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which hosts some of the church’s holiest relics.

“An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk,” said Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman. “The church remains open but the monks are awaiting transfer…”

The monks’ days have been numbered since 2009, when the Vatican sacked their flamboyant abbot, Father Simone Fioraso, a former fashion designer who built up a cult following among Rome’s fashionable aristocratic crowd as well as show business worshippers such as Madonna, who prayed at the church in 2008.

In 2009 Anna Nobili, a nightclub dancer who became a nun, was invited to perform her “holy dance” before an audience including archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican’s cultural department. For her performance Nobili, who says she uses dance as a form of prayer, lies spread-eagled in front of the altar clutching a crucifix or twists and turns as in pole-dancing routines…

Sounds like a flock that seriously enjoyed experimenting with new ways to experience the rapture of holiness.

Or something like that.

Katrina victims must leave FEMA cottages


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Thousands of cottages housing hurricane victims on the Mississippi Gulf Coast will be vacated next month, even though many of their occupants aren’t ready to move and may have no place to go if forced out.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency distributed the one-, two- and three-bedroom structures to temporarily house displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There are still 2,300 occupied cottages in Mississippi, said Mike Womack, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Many of the cottages sit on residents’ lots while they rebuild wrecked homes, he said.

According to agreements between the state agency and cities, the cottages will need to be emptied by the end of January and removed by March, Womack said. Uh, is there some terrific beancounter reason why the residents aren’t part of the agreement?

Housing advocates, residents and some local officials worry that forcing out residents, many of whom are trying to rebuild their homes, will aggravate an already dire housing situation.

FEMA distributed the cottages, free of charge, as an alternative to the temporary trailers that first housed hurricane victims. The program was applauded as Mississippi officials acquired and distributed thousands of the cottages; neighboring Louisiana lagged behind.

The cottages were always meant to be temporary, not a permanent housing solution, Womack said. The structures may not withstand another powerful storm and many violate zoning rules, he said.

“We just can’t allow these cottages to stay in place where they’re unsafe or degrading the property values of homes around them,” Womack said.

Ah-hah! There’s the rub. Can’t have property values degraded by hurricane survivors continuing in temporary housing while they sort out their lives, can we?

Republicans exploit mortgage crisis to stop the evicted from voting

The Obama campaign yesterday went to court to block what it alleged was an attempt by Republicans in Michigan to stop people who lost their homes in the mortgage crisis from voting in November’s election.

The suit, filed in a Michigan court yesterday, is the latest sign of contention over voting procedures. Voting rights activists in several battleground states have reported an aggressive push by Republican elected officials and activists to make it harder to vote.

In Macomb county, Michigan, a swing constituency, Republican officials for the first time tried to use America’s housing crisis as a way of striking people off lists, the Obama camp told reporters yesterday. “There is no doubt that there is an immediate threat to the voting rights of citizens in Michigan whose names could appear on a foreclosure list,” said Bob Bauer, an Obama lawyer.

The situation came to light last week when the Republican party chairman of Macomb county told a local newspaper he planned to draw on publicly available lists of home foreclosures to bar people from casting their vote.

The national Republicans later distanced the party from his comment, but other state party officials confirmed there were plans to deploy an army of poll “challengers” who would check voters’ credentials.

If you lost your home in this trickle-down-your-leg economy – the Republican Party is going to make certain you’re also cut off from your right to vote, as well.