Councilman, bank ordered to mediation

A federal court has ordered Councilman Keith Bohr and his wife, Elizabeth Propp, to settlement proceedings after their home loan lendor, Wells Fargo, filed a motion to dismiss the couple's lawsuit against it.

Bohr and Propp filed their lawsuit Feb. 16 against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. because, they allege, the bank attempted to foreclose on their $2.5-million home before allowing them to refinance the loan. The lawsuit was moved to the U.S. District Court, 9th Circuit's jurisdiction in March.

Bohr's use of his position as a local politician is one reason Wells Fargo is requesting the dismissal.

"While many borrowers have confronted indescribable hardships and have fallen behind on their home loan payments due to the costs of caring for ill or disabled family members or have lost their employment and taken on multiple low-paying jobs to scrape by after being unable to find work within their vocational field, plaintiffs here — a local politician and his wife — filed the present lawsuit as part of an orchestrated and publicized effort to obtain better terms for their multi-million-dollar (loan)," according to the motion.

Court records filed on behalf of Wells Fargo on April 4 name the Orange County Register, which published Bohr's mass e-mail that explained the circumstances surrounding his home after the Independent first reported of his financial hardship.

Bohr said he didn't seek out the media.

"I never asked to have this in the paper, and I preferred to never have had it," Bohr said. "I'm not receiving any advantage by having had that in the paper — that I can tell you."

Bohr said he stopped making his $10,416 monthly mortgage payment to force the bank to negotiate with him on loan modification for his house, which lost value as a result of the economic downturn. He said he was able to afford the original payment.

Bohr had a 5-year loan and had planned on paying off his house once his development project in San Pedro was completed. But both he and his partner lost money in the deal and had to file bankruptcy.

"I would've paid the whole mortgage off after I sold the LaSalle condos," he said. "We all know a different story happened."

In its motion, Wells Fargo argues that Bohr was not who the government had in mind when it enacted foreclosure-prevention laws.

"Anything short of a swift and conclusive dismissal of this action with prejudice would be a generous and unwarranted gift to plaintiffs, who publically flaunt their rent-and-mortgage-free lifestyle in their multi-million dollar estate, and moreover, a commendation for their abuse of the judicial process," the motion said.

Bohr said he lost millions in the recession.

"Their argument that I'm some rich fat cat that can afford the payment and the loan is completely false," he said. "We lost millions in our LaSalle project. Everything that I had, that I made in the 2000s, went into the LaSalle project and went into my home. To say somehow that the program is not made for someone who suffered hardship … I suffered some serious loss in the recession."

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