Ex-Monarchs star says foreclosure broke California law

Published: Friday, Jun. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 9:20 am

Ruthie Bolton, a former Sacramento Monarchs all-star, two-time Olympic gold medalist and a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, is crying foul against companies for what she calls an illegal foreclosure on her Elk Grove home.

The string of events that put Bolton's home in limbo are detailed in a May 31 complaint filed in Sacramento Superior Court.

In the lawsuit, Bolton claims a Southern California loan-services company authorized the auction of her home at the same time she was working on a loan modification.

The suit says that practice, referred to as "dual tracking," is illegal under the state's Homeowner Bill of Rights, which took effect Jan. 1 this year.

That law forbids lenders to proceed with foreclosures while at the same time processing borrowers' applications for loan modifications.

Attorney General Kamala Harris championed the law, and numerous real estate tracking firms have cited it as the reason for a dramatic decrease in foreclosure activity throughout California this year.

Bolton's suit identifies the defendants as Santa Ana-based Carrington Mortgage Services and the associated businesses of Carrington Holding Co., Atlantic and Pacific Foreclosure and Euro Pacific Mortgage, which is listed as the homebuyer.

Attempts to get comment from Carrington Mortgage Services were unsuccessful.

According to court documents, Carrington Mortgage informed Bolton on or about May 13 that her request for mortgage assistance through the Making Home Affordable program had been been received. The complaint says the defendants assured Bolton that foreclosure proceedings would not move forward as the assistance request was reviewed.

On May 20, the suit claims, Bolton's Elk Grove home was sold through a trustee's sale, with the defendants acting as trustee, even while her loan-modification request was still pending.

The suit, filed by Roseville attorney Pamela Palmieri, claims that the defendants were informed on May 24 that selling Bolton's home was in violation of state law. The suit says the defendants refused to void the sale "and instead offered to sell (Bolton's) home back to her for $50,000 more than they had paid for it just days earlier."

The suit says the defendants moved forward with plans to evict Bolton and her two children.

A court filing for stay of eviction proceedings said that Palmieri and Bolton met with representatives of the defendants on May 30, telling them that their actions represented unlawful "dual tracking."

The defendants allegedly refused to set aside the trustee's sale.

According to the filing: "Defendants scoffed at (Bolton's) requests and stated the (she) could take whatever actions she chose but (her) home was 'dead.' "

The filing claims the defendants' representatives also told Bolton that enforcement of the law was "so time consuming and slow" that she had no chance of success.

On Thursday, Palmieri said the defendants are insisting that the home was bought lawfully. She said one of the problems is tracking down the as-yet-unknown original lender, a process complicated by past practices of lenders bundling mortgages and selling them to other entities.

Palmieri said Bolton has been served with an eviction notice, threatening imminent removal, but a formal eviction has not yet occurred.

Palmieri said she's hopeful of getting a formal stay of eviction from Sacramento Superior Court. The lawsuit also seeks setting aside the home sale, cancellation of the trustee's deed, unspecified monetary damages and unspecified punitive damages.

She said other legal steps are possible, but those will be based in part on how "the defendants continue to proceed."

Palmieri said the defendants' violation of California's dual tracking law is irrefutable.

"We have the paperwork to prove it," she said.

Bolton could not be reached for comment.

Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

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