Lender forgave payments to avert Mozilo PR crisis, borrower insists. Now BofA threatens foreclosure

Lender forgave payments to avert Mozilo PR crisis, borrower insists. Now BofA threatens foreclosure

Daniel A. Bailey Jr. isn’t your average homeowner. He hasn’t paid his mortgage in more than five years, and has no plans to start now.

His stance stems from a bizarre incident that thrust Bailey into the news in 2008, when he suddenly became a public relations liability for embattled home lender Countrywide Financial of Calabasas.

Bailey had blanketed Countrywide with emails begging for a mortgage modification. The reply came from none other than Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide’s chief executive, who accidentally hit “reply” instead of “forward” on a note meant for colleagues. In the misfired missive, Mozilo called Bailey’s letter a “disgusting” and “unbelievable” example of the form letters then inundating the lender from borrowers saying they couldn’t pay.

The email, which Bailey posted on a borrowers forum, went viral on the Internet and hit the news. A day after The Times reported Bailey’s exchange with Mozilo, television reporters camped outside his Wilmington, N.C., house. Countrywide staffers then rushed to appease him and keep him quiet, Bailey now says, offering him a modification and going a step further — telling him he’d never have to pay, and the bank would never foreclose.

And that’s exactly what happened since then. The mess has now landed in the lap of Bank of America, which purchased Countrywide in July of 2008 — one of the worst bank deals in history, as Countrywide would soon collapse under the weight of mass defaults on shoddily underwritten housing bubble loans. BofA has since racked up about $50 billion in loan defaults and legal costs.

BofA just caught up with Bailey’s situation in August, sending him a demand for payment of $98,462 and threatening foreclosure.

BofA spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said a search had turned up no documentation of the deal Bailey described. She said the Countrywide official who dealt with Bailey, whom she would not identify, no longer works for BofA. Bank of America confirmed that Bailey had skipped 62 straight monthly payments, and conceded in a statement that “it is unusual” for the bank to allow a loan to go unpaid that long without moving to foreclose.

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