Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Widow Wonders Where the Money Went

An elderly west Baltimore widow who refinanced her mortgage for a $6,000 home improvement loan filed suit against her lender yesterday, claiming she got less than $500 at settlement, with the term of her mortgage doubled from 15 to 30 years — and increased by $10,000. Clemmie Campbell, 78, of Edmondson Village, filed a four-count complaint in Baltimore City Circuit Court against Savings First Mortgage LLC and Louis Gendason, of Owings Mills. Campbell alleges that both defendants violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Law. She has charged Savings First with negligent supervision and liability for Gendason’s acts, and claims Gendason defrauded her.“It was wrong for him to do what he did,” Campbell said, “but he done it; he’s going to have to live with it, and I take it to God in prayer.”Campbell, who said she has been living in the house for 36 years, added that her family asked her not to be photographed or to comment on the case so her neighbors wouldn’t know her business.“I’m too old to worry about it,” she said. “I built me a house not made by hand and I am not going to worry about earthly things,” she said.However, attorney Hil T.C. O’Herlihy, who has taken Campbell’s case pro bono through Baltimore City’s Legal Services to the Elderly Program, said he is not about to let the elderly widow’s case go.O’Herlihy said the idea was for Campbell to borrow $73,000 to pay off her $63,000 mortgage and associated fees, leaving her with $6,000 to build the powder room. Instead, she was left with $471 after Savings First deducted all its fees and charges, he said — and then they offered her a second mortgage of $11,000 to build the powder room. “What makes it even worse is that they solicited her,” he said. “She didn’t go looking for them.”Neither defendant had been served yesterday. A company executive who asked not to be named declined to comment. A message left for Gendason was not returned.Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Lynette Voss said “Savings 1st Mortgage,” with the same address as Savings First Mortgage, had been listed with her organization since September 1992, was a bureau member, and had a clear record. The company has “a satisfactory business record,” she said, with “to date, no customer complaints.”Campbell claims Gendason approached her last October about refinancing the mortgage on her home. She says in her complaint that Gendason told her she “could refinance her mortgage and receive approximately $6,000” to install a first floor “powder room.”“The sole purpose of refinancing her mortgage was to build a powder room in her home so as she ages she would not have to travel up her stairs,” the complaint says.At settlement the next month, however, Campbell alleges she “did not receive the money that was promised her, but only $471.33.”In addition, she claims her mortgage was increased from about $63,100 to $73,000 — and lengthened from 15 to 30 years. She contends that she suffered actual damages of the $6,000 it would have cost her to build the powder room, as well as “$67,480.82 in increased payment of principal and interest on the new loan paid off at settlement.”