New Information Surfaces In McArthur Wrongful Foreclosure Case

By
Tyler Buchanan - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Wed, Aug 7, 2013 8:41 am

More details surrounding the widely-circulated McArthur wrongful foreclosure case continue to emerge, as a police report detailing the Wellston bank's mistake may call into question some of the homeowner's initial claims.

In addition, Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown has declined to pursue any criminal charges against the bank for their actions. 

Katie Barnett, of McArthur, says she is owed $18,000 in missing belongings after the First National Bank of Wellston accidentally foreclosed on her home in June.

The bank's president, Anthony Thorne, has admitted blame, but also says that in the weeks since the incident occurred, Barnett has exaggerated both the items missing and their total worth.

When Barnett first went public with the story, she told a Columbus news station that after informing McArthur Police of the bank's mistake, Chief Tony Wood "announced the case was closed."

A McArthur Police report released July 25, three days after that story broke, said that Barnett never contacted city police wanting to file any type of report against the Wellston bank.

According to the report, Barnett first called police July 2 to say that someone had been in her home and had cleaned it and mowed the grass. She told police no one was living there at the time.

When Wood went to the home with her, Barnett reportedly never mentioned "anything being taken or missing, just cleaned up." Later that day, a man from First National Bank met with Wood at the police station to say he had cleaned out the wrong house in a bank repossession by mistake.

"This officer located Mrs. Barnett and advised her who had been in her home, that the repo man had got the wrong house," Wood wrote in his report. "She then began to laugh and stated that at least they cleaned up inside and mowed the grass."

Wood then told Barnett to contact the office if she needed any other help.

While Barnett has not since filed a report with the office or contacted police further, Wood said the widespread attention to the case prompted him to give details of the case to the prosecutor to decide if criminal charges were appropriate.

Barnett had initially agreed to speak with The Courier, but later declined on advice from her attorney, Melissa Lipchak.

Lipchak told The Courier that she and representatives from the bank were negotiating on a possible resolution. She declined to give specifics on the talks or if Barnett would file lawsuit against the bank.

In a statement on the bank's website, Thorne said the bank hopes to compensate Barnett for all missing items. A list shown during the initial Columbus news story appears to show the amount "owed," including $2,500 for "miscellaneous kids clothes," more than $9,000 for "Toyota engines and parts" and nearly $2,000 for pool supplies.

Thorne said that some items "assumed to be trash" were thrown away. Other items were reportedly given to neighbors, but it's unclear if those have since been returned to Barnett.

A petition on MoveOn.org calling for the bank to fully reimburse Barnett has collected nearly 500 online signatures, with most signers listed as being from the southeast Ohio area. The petition states that Barnett was on vacation at the time of the incident, repeats the claim of police having closed the case and lists an unrelated, former bank president as being responsible.

"This is ridiculous," wrote one petitioner, listed as Michelle Henderson of Gallipolis. "They should be happy that is all she is asking for."

 

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