News Column

Graves vs Wells Fargo

May 17, 2014

By Michael D. Abernethy, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.



May 17--GRAHAM -- A prominent social activist and member of the Burlington Housing Authority is suing Wells Fargo, accusing the bank of improperly foreclosing on and illegally trying to evict him from his home.

Michael Graves, leader of Concerned Citizens of Alamance County and a former Alamance County NAACP president, filed the suit last month through his attorney, Bryan Ray. The complaint alleges Wells Fargo was in the midst of renegotiating the terms of Graves' loan when it directed a subtrustee to initiate foreclosure.

According to court documents, Graves secured a $450,000 home mortgage loan for the residence at 2012 Sunnybrook Drive, Burlington, part of the Shannon Valley Subdivision. According to documents filed by Wells Fargo, Graves defaulted on the loan in 2008, and the bank began foreclosure proceedings. Foreclosure sales were set but postponed five times from November 2009 to Jan. 14 of this year, when court documents show the home was sold for $244,236.14. Each time the sales were postponed, it was for "additional time for mortgagor to allow reinstatement, a modification or a payoff of a loan," documents said.

The bank, through substitute trustees Brock and Scott, began eviction proceedings in late March, after the January sale.

Graves filed an injunction against eviction and the foreclosure April 11.

The complaint contains three causes for action: breach of contract and improper foreclosure, contractual bad faith, and unfair and deceptive trade practices by Wells Fargo. The suit claims the bank "abused the power of sale" and caused damages of at least $25,000 to Graves.

Wells Fargo hadn't filed a response to the complaint as of this week. Attorney Michael Montecalvo, with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in Winston-Salem, was unable to comment on the lawsuit by press time Friday.

Reached on Wednesday, Graves said the bank erred and should be held accountable.

"I think more people need to stand up against these banks when they are wrong, and they are absolutely, 100 percent wrong in this situation," Graves said. "The facts are on my side, and I believe they've hastily moved with this foreclosure. I wasn't notified beforehand. My attorney wasn't notified."

Ray, a Graham attorney, was reached Wednesday but said he wasn't ready to comment about the details of what could be a complicated case.

"This is an unusual circumstance, and we're still looking at it and working through it," Ray said.

The complaint demands a jury trial on the allegations and requests that a judge tax legal costs to Wells Fargo and that damages and further relief be awarded to Graves.

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(c)2014 Times-News (Burlington, N.C.)

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Source: Times-News (Burlington, NC)


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