By Stephanie Warsmith
Beacon Journal staff writer
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said he didn’t know the house he owned with his former girlfriend was in arrears and wasn’t notified before a foreclosure was filed.
If Plusquellic had known about the problem, he said he could have tried to help by making some of the late payments or finding someone to rent the West Akron home.
Now, Plusquellic said, he is researching his options in light of Wells Fargo Bank filing a foreclosure complaint Thursday in Summit County Common Pleas Court against him and Melissa K. Barnhart, his ex-girlfriend.
“I had no knowledge,” he said. “The circumstances are pretty clear... It’s not like they [Wells Fargo] don’t know where to find me.”
Plusquellic and Barnhart bought the 1180 W. Exchange St. home on March 14, 2008, for $268,700, according to county records. They financed $255,265 at an interest rate of 6.5 percent, with monthly payments of $1,613. Both he and Barnhart signed the note, according to court records.
The foreclosure alleges that they defaulted on a note valued at $238,956, plus interest beginning April 1.
Plusquellic says he hasn’t lived at the house in nearly four years and Barnhart took over payments after the two split up. He said the most recent action he took regarding the property was signing papers to sell it. He said he just learned that a recent pending sale on the house fell through.
The case is assigned to Judge Tom Parker.
Taxes on the property are current, according to county records.
The two-story colonial, built in 1919, has six bedrooms and five bathrooms, is 3,324 square feet and sits on 0.39 acres. It was most recently listed for $269,900, according to the Zillow website.
The house was purchased in 1998 for $175,000 and sold the next year for $208,000. Vaughn Morrison sold the house to Plusquellic and Barnhart, according to county records.
Plusquellic now rents an apartment in the downtown Canal Place apartments.
Barnhart, who is active in Democratic politics in Ohio, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Jim Hines, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, said he was unable as of Monday evening to comment on this case. An attempt to reach an attorney with Lerner, Sampson & Rothfuss, the Cincinnati law firm representing Wells Fargo, was unsuccessful.
Plusquellic said the house has been on the market twice since he moved out, with an offer in August not going through. He said he didn’t learn about this until he contacted the real estate agent after learning about the foreclosure.
“I was hoping the market picked up and we could sell it,” he said.
Plusquellic said he hadn’t yet officially been served with a summons for the case as of Monday afternoon when he had a news conference about a biomedical company locating in Akron in which he also fielded questions about the foreclosure. The court docket shows a summons was issued Friday for Plusquellic, though it lists the Exchange Street property as his address.
Plusquellic thinks what’s happening to him is indicative of a larger problem involving mortgage companies filing foreclosures without attempting to reach out to the property owners to figure out the circumstances and see if anything can be worked out before taking the matter to court. He said Planning Director Marco Sommerville said to him that, if this is how he’s being treated when he’s the mayor, “what do you think they do to average people?”
“They have an obligation to find out what’s going on,” Plusquellic said.