Wells Fargo foreclosure fiend fired

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Wells Fargo and Company (WSF) announced yesterday that it has fired a senior executive who moved her family into a bank-owned property. Cheronda Guyton, the bank's senior vice president for foreclosed properties, apparently used a home in California's Malibu Colony as a personal party pad and weekend escape. While a Wells Fargo spokesperson refused to name the executive who was let go, she confirmed that it was Guyton.

The neighborhood, Malibu Colony, is among the wealthiest enclaves in the United States. Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Murray, Rob Reiner, Sting all have beach homes here, and monthly rents are in the $60,000 range.
The home that Guyton occupied was a $12 million foreclosure, which was previously owned by Lawrence and Linda Elins. The Elins, who were defrauded by Bernie Madoff, lost most of their money in December 2008. In order to service bills and other debts, they signed the house, which they had owned for thirteen years, over to Wells Fargo.

Although real estate agents have had numerous offers for the house, the bank declined requests to show it to prospective buyers. However, neighbors noticed Guyton's Volvo SUV parked in the driveway, and the executive obtained a residency parking pass from the front gate's security guards. As it turned out, she and her family used the home as a weekend getaway for much of the summer, finishing the season with an August party that featured a waterborne arrival, as guests traveled to the property from a yacht anchored offshore.

In a statement, Wells Fargo emphasized that it is not company policy to allow individual employees to use foreclosed properties. It noted that "a single team member was responsible for violating our company policy" and that this event does not "reflect the conduct we expect of our team members." With the Guyton fiasco drawing attention to the conduct of foreclosing institutions, it will be interesting to see if Wells Fargo's position as a major bailout beneficiary comes under attack.
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