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Loan Modification Judge Blasts "Bad" Bank, Forgives Mortgage

Those of you who have been struggling with loan modifications -- and there are hundreds of thousands of you -- certainly must have fantasies that someone will cut through the red tape and finally listen.

Or that the lender, which may seem to be pushing for closure rather ruthlessly, get a lesson in human kindness.

Well, both those wishes came true for an East Patchogue, Long Island couple, who had a judge wipe out their $525,000 mortgage balance.

In a front-page story by Kieran Crowley, Rich Wilner, and Dan Mangan of the New York Post (a newspaper where I used to edit; hey guys!) the story of a Suffolk County judge giving homeowners their home for free is detailed.

Seems Judge Jeffrey Spinner was taken aback by the behavior of the lender, OneWest FSB of Pasadena, California, which absorbed the old IndyMac. He used the words "harsh, repugnant, shocking, and repulsive" to describe the bank, which was foreclosing on the Long Island couple.

The homeowners -- Greg Horoski, a professor of English, and his wife, Diane, who sells collectible dolls -- had a subprime loan blow up in their faces, according to the Post. They ended up with an interest rate of 12.375 percent, $291,000 in principal owed, and $235,000 in interest and penalties.

The judge, for his part, berated the bank for refusing to work out a settlement deal.

OneWest, according to the Post, took $814.2 million in Federal bailout money.

If the judge's decision is not reversed on appeal, the Horoskis now own their 3,400-square-foot ranch, which they bought for less than $200,000 15 years ago, free and clear.

OneWest noted for its part that it expects the ruling to be overturned on appeal.

The bank's owners, according to the Los Angeles Times, are private equity investors including Stephen Mnuchin of Dune Capital Management, J. Christopher Flowers, George Soros, and John Paulson.

Christopher Flowers set the price record for a Manhattan townhouse when he paid a reported $53 million for the Harkness Mansion, an Upper East Side limestone trophy property, in October 2006. According to the New York Observer, that home is quietly being shopped for under the asking price.

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