Repo the Wrong House — and No Criminal Charges?

Nikki Bailey, a homeowner in West Virginia, came home to a startling discovery — moving men were in the process of cleaning out her home, because a bank had ordered it repossessed.  Like many foreclosures and home repossessions, this is an all-to-familiar story in the wake of the Great Recession.  But there’s a minor detail to this story:

MIss Bailey paid off her mortgage: 25 years ago.

While continuing to clean out her home, the representatives of the repossession company, CTM Industries, refused to disclose the name of the bank who ordered the repossession, and continued to clean out the home, taking everything she owned to the local trash dump.

A lifetime of memories in possessions taken away and virtually irretrievable, with the exception of some objects, such as a chest of drawers.  Family momentos, pictures,  and even a “Teacher of the Year” award from her local school district — all gone, thrown away by the offending company as if it were simple trash.

It turns out, CTM WAS repossessing the wrong house.  Her address on Godby Heights was over ten miles away from the home SUPPOSED to be foreclosed upon, on Godby Street, in Logan.

Even when the company admitted the mistake of address, the company still refuses to give the name of the Bank that ordered the repossession, as contacting the Bank would go a long way toward finding out who’s responsible for the botched address.  When contacted by local media, CTM refused to answer questions, and hung up.

Even more disturbing: the local prosecutor has said that criminal charges against either party (The Bank or CTM) is “unlikely,” because this was a “mistake.”

While civil and charges and penalties are still on the table, a Kanawha County Prosecutor, Mark Plants says “It’s a lot like taking someone’s luggage at the airport. If I take a black bag, a black piece of luggage, get home and realize this is not my bag — that’s not a crime. That’s an accident.”

Is it the same thing though?  Is the simple accident of taking similar luggage akin to breaking and entering, illegally, and burglarizing the home in question?  Isn’t there a procedure to follow that ensures the CORRECT home is Foreclosed and Repossessed properly?  And indeed, when done so legally, can the lender order all the stuff inside, which the Bank has no title to, simply removed and discarded like trash, without even the opportunity of the owner to reclaim it?

Could this also be an example of big money being immune from the laws of good order that the rest of us are required to follow?  Another example of how Banks were not held accountable for being responsible for the Great Recession?

Definitely disturbing.

One comment on “Repo the Wrong House — and No Criminal Charges?

  1. If I pick up the wrong luggage at the airport and, after discovering my error, I fail to return it, that’s theft. The repossession company threw Bailey’s property in the dump. Lack of criminal intent aside, theirs or the bank’s careless behavior may constitute criminal negligence.

    If the prosecutor’s office would bother to file charges — instead of making bogus excuses in statements to the press — they could seek to demonstrate negligence on the part of the bank or the repo company. Lacking malice, in the presence of negligence, an “accident” can still be a crime.

    And the repo company is obstructing justice. Make an example of them and then follow up with the bank. This woman deserves resitution, but also JUSTICE.

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