By: Occupy Utica

Background: This letter was given to the bank manager of a local Bank of America branch before a small rally was held outside of the bank. It wasn’t intended, or planned, but OU’s demonstration actually led to the bank closing early. The plan by OU was to simply deliver the letter of notice to the bank manager and then stage a brief picket.

Two police officers were on the scene, but there was no escalation of any kind. The bank closing was deemed an “unnecessary overreaction” by some participating OU members, but it did gain us an audience with customers whom OU members discussed BoA corruption and shady business practices with as the customers divulged some details over their less than pleasant dealings with BoA in the past.

This isn’t the first time OU has targeted a BoA branch in Utica (there are a few). In January of 2012, OU began its Justice for John campaign, a story that gained national attention when, with the help of OU, local Afghanistan veteran John C. MacDevitt was able to successfully picket BoA for a refund of over $25,000 of fraudulent charges to his credit card.

Also, OU staged a small but lively picket, in conjunction with a local MoveOn contingent, outside of another BoA branch, on May 9th in solidarity with the actions which were taking place in Charlotte, NC due to the BoA shareholders meeting.

Below is a copy of the letter delivered to the bank manager that morning:

June 9, 2012

Utica, NY

To the branch manager of Bank of America on Mohawk St in Utica, NY:

We bring this issue to your attention to seek justice for Ms. Narcisa C. Mendez. 

In January 2012 Narcisa C. Mendez, as directed by Bank of America, wrote and sent a letter accepting the arrangement of a Deed in Lieu of Mortgage instead of foreclosure in order to satisfy what she owed on the mortgage on 72 Ballantyne Brae, Utica, NY, which is approximately $65,000.

According to Utica tax records, the full market value is $87,300 and according to Zillow, the estimated market value is over $100,000. Ms. Mendez understood from conversations that Bank of America would remit $3,000 for agreeing to this arrangement. 

On or around April 14, 2012, Ms. Mendez got an email from Cyprexx Services LLC and a voice mail in Spanish from Angela Molina informing her that she was required to sign a Personal Belongings Release form and that she had 24 hours to vacate the house. They said they were directed, by Bank of America, to secure the house at that time. She was visiting Long Island, cut her story short to return to Utica, Narcisa signed and faxed the form 4/16/2012.

She did not have time to get her remaining belongings out of the house. She got a second email with the same form from Bank of  America, signed and faxed it again 5/1/2012. She went by the house the first week of May 2012 and saw locks on the front door. Her neighbors, about 3-4 weeks ago, reported to her that Cyprexx workers took appliances out of the house and put them in the garage and said that the Salvation Army would come to pick them up. Last week her neighbors noticed that the back door was wide open.

On May 23, she got an email from Bank of America’s REDC with attachments: letter and documents to be filled out and faxed back by June 6, 2012. The letter and documents indicated that she was liable for the condition of the property and any damages until such time as the Deed in Lieu process was complete and that if the property was not in satisfactory condition, the arrangement would be terminated and the bank would proceed with forclosure. These documents also indicated that Ms. Mendez should vacate before May 22, 2012 and after she did so, that she should notify Bank of America within 24 hours.

That procedure of vacating then contacting Bank of America for them to secure the property is considerably different than what Cyprexx told her, which is that she had to get out within 24 hours of them contacting her. Another issue is that she got the email, letter and documents telling her to move out by May 22 AFTER that date, on May 23.

If she had gotten these documents in early May, she could have had time to remove her remaining belongings. Then Cyprexx would not have had to deal with her remaining personal belongings as “debris.”

Despite these discrepancies and issues, Ms. Mendez complied and filled out and faxed the documents on June 6, 2012. The implied threats of liability and possible future charges for any damages on a house improperly secured by Cyprexx and denuded of appliances by them, and any possible damage they caused, have caused her considerable distress.

Ms. Mendez should not be liable for any damages or removal of appliances or so-called “debris” (her  remaining belongings) that was done by Cyprexx services LLC when they seized and supposedly secured the property. Ms. Mendez left the property in good condition. She had left well before May 1, 2012. Ms. Mendez should get the full $3,000 as indicated in the letter and documents and the Deed in Lieu process should go forth in an expedient manner.

In addition, we point out that this is not the usual forclosure for which the banking industry has gotten a massive bailout and taxpayer funding: that is, a house now worth less than the remaining mortgage. This house is worth MORE ($87,300 – $100,000) than the remaining mortgage (less than $65,000) and Bank of America should be able to make a minimum of $20,000, and could have possibly made more if the Cyprexx workers had not taken out the appliances. The amount of $3,000 for Ms. Mendez seems low. 

We request that you provide assurances to Ms. Mendez that she will not be held liable for any damages caused by Cyprexx workers, that she will get the full $3,000 agreed upon, and that the Deed in Lieu process will go forth and the forclosure process stopped with expediency.

If we do not find closure to this situation in two weeks’ time, expect to hear from Occupy Utica.


UPDATE 6/15:

Someone from the Deed in Lieu department called her, acknowledged BoA screwed up, apologized and promised to come to a resolution in the next week that is favorable to her. This is huge news! BoA knows not to mess around with Occupy Utica. They didn’t want another McDevitt on their hands. Thanks for everyone’s support.