This Long Island couple certainly has something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Greg Horoski and his wife, Diane Yano-Horoski, were on the verge of being tossed out of their ranch home in East Patchogue. They owed $525,000 in mortgage payments, had no equity on the house, and their California bank threatened foreclosure.
Then Suffolk Judge Jeffrey Spinner gave them a Thanksgiving gift they'll remember all their lives. He erased their debt and slammed their bank, OneWest, for its "harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive" behavior, according to The New York Post.
Now Yano-Horoski and her husband owe practically nothing on their home. And OneWest, which accepted a whopping $814.2 million in federal bailout money, was excoriated by the judge.
"The bank was so intransigent that he [the judge] decided to punish them," Horoski, 55, told the Post about Spinner's ruling last week. "I think the judge felt it was almost a personal vendetta. [Dealing with the bank was] like dealing with organized crime."
Horoski and his wife had only been paying interest on their mortgage; they had pleaded with OneWest to restructure their loan to no avail. Spinner's decision negated up to $291,000 in principal and $235,000 in interest and penalties, reports the Post.
In response, the bank said, "We respectfully disagree with the lower court's unprecedented ruling and we expect that it will be overturned on appeal," according to the Post.
The Horoskis bought the 3,400-square-foot home nearly two decades ago for less than $200,000, reports the paper. Greg is an online seller of collectible dolls and Diane works as a college professor. The couple had to refinance in 2004, using part of a subprime loan from Deutsche Bank to pay off their initial mortgage and the rest to support Greg's business and pay for health care, reports the Post.
Then the interest rate skyrocketed and the loan ended up being held by IndyMac, which the private company that owns OneWest bought when it failed. Greg had health problems, however, and the couple had to spend a lot of money on his medical bills. They couldn't afford to continue paying off the loan at its current rate and the bank sued them in 2005 for failure to pay.
Last January, the bank got the go ahead to foreclosure and a court granted Yank-Haroski's request for a settlement conference, reports the Post. During that time, Spinner blamed the bank for treating the couple poorly, deceiving them about the money involved in the case and not doing enough to help them out, according to the Post.
In his opinion, Spinner wrote that OneWest's actions were "inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious." He eliminated the debt because he wanted to prevent the bank "from imposing further mortifying abuse against [the couple]," reports the Post.
For its part, OneWest claimed it's been working hard with homeowners on loan restructuring in accordance with Presidnt Barack Obama's affordable home plan and evaluating other loan options. However, the company is currently involved in a similar case in California, where the bank is trying to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman's home despite court orders demanding it cease and desist.