Judge blasts bad bank, erases 525G debt
By KIERAN CROWLEY, RICH WILNER and DAN MANGAN
A Long Island couple is home free after an outraged judge gave them an amazing Thanksgiving present -- canceling their debt to ruthless bankers trying to toss them out on the street.
Suffolk Judge Jeffrey Spinner wiped out $525,000 in mortgage payments demanded by a California bank, blasting its "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive" acts.
The bombshell decision leaves Diane Yano-Horoski and her husband, Greg Horoski, owing absolutely no money on their ranch house in East Patchogue.
Spinner pulled no punches as he smacked down the bankers at OneWest -- who took an $814.2 million federal bailout but have a record of coldbloodedly foreclosing on any homeowner owing money.
"The bank was so intransigent that he [the judge] decided to punish them," Greg Horoski, 55, said about Spinner's scathing ruling last Thursday against OneWest and its IndyMac mortgage division.
It erased up to $291,000 in principal and $235,000 in interest and penalties.
The Horoskis -- who had been paying only interest on their mortgage -- had no equity in the home.
Horoski, who had begged the bankers to let him restructure the loan, said, "I think the judge felt it was almost a personal vendetta." Dealing with the bank, he said, was "like dealing with organized crime."
OneWest said, "We respectfully disagree with the lower court's unprecedented ruling and we expect that it will be overturned on appeal."
It claimed it "has been extremely active in working with consumers on home loan modifications through the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program and other loan modification initiatives."
The bank is owned by a private equity group that purchased the failed IndyMac bank.
Yano-Horoski, a college professor of English and cognitive reason, and Horoski, who sells collectible dolls online, bought their 3,400-square-foot, one-level house 15 years ago for less than $200,000.
In 2004, court records show, they refinanced, paying off their original mortgage with part of a $292,500 sub-prime loan from Deutsche Bank. They used what was left for health care and for his business.
The loan carried an initial adjustable interest rate of 10.375 percent, which soared to 12.375 percent.
It eventually ended up being either owned or serviced by IndyMac, and the bank sued the couple in July 2005 when they began having trouble making payments because of Horoski's health problems.
After a foreclosure was approved last January, Yano-Haroski successfully asked for a court settlement conference.
Spinner excoriated OneWest for repeatedly refusing to work out a deal, for misleading him about the dollar amounts at stake in the case, and for its treatment of the couple over months of hearings.
OneWest's conduct was "inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious," Spinner wrote.
He canceled the debt because the bank "must be appropriately sanctioned so as to deter it from imposing further mortifying abuse against [the couple]."
The bank is involved in a similar case in California, where it's trying to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman, despite two court orders telling it to stop.
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