ABC News Photographer Faces Illegal Foreclosure Due To Bank Scam
Imagine losing your home after 30 years of on-time, faithful payments. As a result, your business closes and you're faced with possibly being homeless. To add to the misery, you have major medical problems. What then?
by Dustin Alexander-Pérez, Met Sentinel Investigative Reporter | Tuesday, 4 December 2018 | 12:45 PM PT
McHENRY, IL - A popular ABC7 Chicago news photographer stringer now faces foreclosure and possibly becoming homeless because the mortgage company he does business with refused a back payment of $35,000. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. reportedly wouldn't accept the late payment because of an unknown legal issue.
William “Bill” Stephens, 61, of McHenry, Illinois suffered a massive heart attack in 2013 and successfully battled bladder cancer from 2014 to 2017 due to several recurrences. As an alarm company business owner and freelance photojournalist, Stephens is responsible for his own health insurance which is costly. Due to his health issues, his business suffered and almost half his security agency clients found other companies to service their accounts.
Stephens applied for and was awarded assistance from Illinois' Hardest Hit, a program that assists people who become ill and are in danger of losing their homes. Stephens initially applied in 2014 and was denied due to a U.S. Bank technicality. He asked for a deferment, but ended up in modification which he only discovered much later. There was nothing he could do about the "slight of hand" parlour trick SPS (Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc.) played against the homeowner.
Stephens finally qualified in March of 2017 for the program grant, but astonishingly the payment was refused by US Bank because the account was “currently in circuit court litigation,” according to the spokesperson for the bank.
While foreclosures are litigated cases, they are chancery and not circuit matters. With this odd situation, now Stephens is due in court on Wednesday, 5 December 2018 where the court is being asked to assign a representative to begin foreclosure.
Rusty Payton, former attorney general for the State of Ohio is currently representing Stephens in federal court due to this malpractice. Attorney Payton was not available for comment in time for this publication.
"It is unfortunate what is happening to Mr. Stephens," said Attorney Drake Shunneson in a telephone interview with Metro News West. "It is odd that the bank handled the situation this way. It is their duty to mitigate their own problem of an outstanding debt and they refused to accept money therefore not legally satisfying their requirement to try and cure their own problem."
Metro News West spoke with a representative at SPS who told us, "Mr. Stephens would have to call in and identify himself and then have you (the reporter) put on a list of approved people we can discuss this matter with." Stephens indeed do just that and when we called to discuss the matter, we were asked, "if we had any means by which to clear up this problem and bring Mr. Stephens account current." When we pressed on the issue of the payment refusal last year, they referred Metro News West to a representative at U.S. Bank.
We contacted U.S. Bank and at first, "They had no record of any mortgage being held by their bank and suggested that we contact," SPS again. It was more than obvious we were getting stonewalled and nobody cares to take responsibility for the mess they have created.
But, none of this does Stephens any good as he is due in front of a judge on Wednesday, 5 December 2018, in McHenry County Illinois Circuit Court, who will ultimately determine Stephens fate and ultimately his future. We will continue to monitor this situation and report accordingly.
Stephens company which is subsequently the owner of this publication, Metro News Network & Affiliates, have started a Go Fund Me page to try and temporarily remedy Stephens' situation. People can learn more by visiting that page by clicking HERE.