Bank And Homeowner Disagree On Losses Claims In Wrongful Foreclosure

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A McArthur woman is fighting to retrieve lost belongings after a Wellston bank accidentally foreclosed on the wrong house, sparking national attention to the case and involving local enforcement to decide whether the bank is criminally responsible.

Katie Barnett, of McArthur, says the First National Bank of Wellston owes her $18,000 in missing belongings. An official from the bank, though admitting blame in the mishap, says Barnett is exaggerating the amount of items missing and their total worth.

The dispute stems back to mid-June, when two representatives from the bank were set to foreclose on a house in McArthur.

"Regrettably, the GPS locator they used to find the property led them to the wrong home," the bank's president, Anthony Thorne, said in a statement. "When our representatives arrived, they noted that the grass was overgrown, the door was unlocked, and the utilities had been turned off."

According to Thorn, the locks were changed and items "assumed to be trash" were thrown away.

Barnett told a Columbus news station that she had to break into her own house, only to find that many of her belongings were gone.

She is quoted in that initial story as saying McArthur Police Chief Tony Wood had told her the case was closed. When The Courier spoke to Wood a few days later, however, he confirmed that no case had even been pursued yet, much less closed.

As of this past Thursday, Wood was completing a police report to send to City Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown. She confirmed that she had received a report but had yet to decide whether criminal charges were appropriate. Wood has yet to provide The Courier with a police report.

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

Thorne wrote in his statement that the bank is looking to compensate Barnett for the items missing. There is disagreement, however, between the two parties as to what all is missing and how much they are worth.

A list shown to the Columbus news station appears to show the amount "owed" by First National Bank, including $2,500 for "miscellaneous kids clothes," more than $9,000 for "Toyota engines and parts" and nearly $2,000 for pool supplies.

This list is "inconsistent with … the list and values of missing items provided by (Barnett) herself as recorded in an earlier telephone conversation with one of our representatives," Thorne wrote.

The two sides' attorneys are in contact to resolve the issue, Thorne wrote, but as of Tuesday, no resolution had been reached.