Occupy MN: Under pressure, Wells Fargo may halt couple's foreclosure

Categories: Protest News
Thumbnail image for cheryl downey malcolm lefever.jpg
Cheryl Downey and Malcolm LeFever have one more shot at saving their home.
This week, we told you the story of Malcolm LeFever and Cheryl Downey, and their struggle with Wells Fargo over their underwater mortgage. They received a foreclosure notice late last week despite two years of trying to work out a loan remodification with the bank.

The couple planned to march to Wells Fargo with Occupy MN this afternoon to demand an audience with someone in the building in a last ditch attempt to save their Richfield home.

Well, it appears the story caught someone's attention at Wells Fargo corporate.

"I was so surprised to get the call," LeFever told City Pages the day after the story ran. "I wasn't even thinking clearly."

LeFever and Downey have lived in their house for nearly 20 years and raised a family there. Then, at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, LeFever lost his job and by 2010 stopped being able to make his mortgage payments on time. At that point, the couple requested a loan remodification from Wells Fargo.

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The letter every homeowner dreads.
But two years later, no progress has been made. LeFever says he submitted all his paperwork repeatedly, but has never even talked to someone in person about his situation. Last Friday, he received a foreclosure notice from the bank, with a sheriff's sale date of November 22.

Frustrated, LeFever and Downey agreed to go public with their story as a part of today's "Don't Foreclose on the American Dream" march on Wells Fargo. Protesters from Occupy MN and several labor organizations like SEIU, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, and Minnesota AFL-CIO, will meet in Peavey Plaza at 3 p.m. and march to Wells Fargo at 7th and Marquette. Part of the group's demands was to fix the LeFever-Downeys' mortgage.

But after City Pages profiled the couple on Wednesday, LeFever says he received a call from Wells Fargo headquarters out in California. He says the woman said she was with the executive office of the bank, and promised to get in contact with whoever had been handling his modification. Lefever says the woman promised to work with him.

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The Downey-LeFever home is still up for a sheriff's sale November 22.
"Getting a phone call like that makes me very hopeful," he says.

Kevin Whelan, who reviewed LeFever's case for Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, was encouraged by the news, but points out that the house's foreclosure is still scheduled and that nothing is fixed until LeFever gets a modification offer in writing.

"This isn't a victory, that's just customer service," he says. "You need a worldwide uprising against the banks and an article, and you get a phone call."

LeFever and Downey will still be participating in the march this afternoon, and the protest demands will converge around yet another homeowner in need of a modification from Wells Fargo. Whelan says St. Paul resident Sharonda Orridge has been trying for three years to get a modification from the bank, and has a loan type so predatory it was banned by Minnesota legislation.

The protest today brings to a head a week's worth of marches and demonstrations as Occupy MN continues to evolve. We'll keep you posted as the action unfolds.

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James Allison
James Allison

I can say from experience that getting a call from a bank executive's office is no guarantee of anything. The story is not over and the bank is likely to go right back to business as usual as soon as the attention fades.

I am disgusted at the way millions of us are being treated by the banks.  If you have been making payments while under review for a modification, you may have valid and effective legal case that you are not in default. They made a new agreement and you honored it by making the payments. Laws vary from state to state different jurisdictions are looking at cases differently, but it's pretty straightforward and logical to argue that they told you to make payments in an amount lower than the terms of the original mortgage and now they want to go back to the note and claim the right to foreclosure under the original terms.  Forget about their insane secretive underwriting process, or whatever it is they do. It doesn't make any sense to keep asking people for the same documents. I wouldn't even discuss that unless it comes up in court. They never explain what the heck they are doing and you shouldn't be expected to understand it. You did what you were told, they took your money, and now they want your house too.  Most likely they also got federal funds to participate in this slow motion theft. It's truly obscene all the way around.  I know it starts to seem normal when you deal with it for so long.  It's not normal. It's not right. Most importantly, it's not legal. I think what's worst about it, that most people don't consider, is that in some cases the home owners would never have gotten so far behind and be facing foreclosure if they hadn't trusted the bank and had faith in this crazy program.

Find an attorney who handles foreclosure defense (successfully) and don't get distracted by the chain of title issue because that's not working in most courts. You can file yourself, what they call "pro se", but if you can afford an attorney to help you make the argument, you may have a better shot at getting the foreclosure dismissed.  Ideally you can find a ruling from the same court of someone who won, and plead your case the same way if your circumstances are similar enough. A good lawyer should be able to research and find such a case if it exists.

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

It's not up to the banks.  All loan refinancing programs are approved or rejected by Fannie and Freddie.   It's the very first step.  So misguided and misled.

I Just went through the process.   SWWEEEETTTTT RATES!!!!!

I'm thinking they were rejected, because of that gay hyphenated name. That's a tell tale sign that the man lack testicular fortitude.


Good luck to all the homeowners and supporters marching! Thanks for continuing the struggle despite constant ridicule and the assertion that if you're in hard times it's your fault. Stay strong and ignore anyone who says you are not justified in your anger. You are justified - keep fighting.

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