by Alex Weber
We all know that the home loan business can be a sleazy racket. And if a fresh set of East Bay allegations holds up in court, they'll add a bit more tarnish to the oft-scandalized private lenders of our state:
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced today that she has charged Woodland Hills, Calif.-based private lenders Value Home Loan, Inc., with felony grand theft for their hand in an alleged scam against an Oakland homeowner.
The complaint states that on September 3, 2008, Value Home Loan foreclosed on the Maxwell Park home of Loistine Wilburn without notifying her. The company then went on to collect more than $2,000 from Wilburn after promising to modify her loan. She eventually stopped paying, and at that point Value Home Loan evicted her, according to the complaint.
But Value Home Loan President Neil Gitnick said in an interview that his "feelings" were hurt by the allegations contained within O'Malley's announcement. "We've gone far above what any lender does with our borrowers, including [Wilburn], and we wish the DA's office would have contacted us to discover that prior to this misunderstanding based solely on Ms. Wilburn's account," he said.
Gitnick claimed that Wilburn enjoyed free loan modification counseling and lived in the house for free for the two years during which Value Home Loan was trying to negotiate a deal with Bank of America on her behalf. Gitnick confirmed that Wilburn made three payments of $733.33 during that time, but he was unable to articulate exactly what that money paid for.
If convicted, Value Home Loan faces up to $10,000 in fines and will have to pay back Wilburn, according to Deputy District Attorney David Lim.