Monday, January 4, 2016


Since April 2009 for almost seven years time, Vietnam war widow, Brenda Reed, has valiantly fought to save her Oakland, California home of forty-two years from foreclosure.  It was where she raised a son and a daughter. Despite years of effort, marching in the streets as a foreclosure warrior and expensive litigation, JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA succeeded in foreclosing on her home on December 10, 2015.  Reed is facing eviction and possibly homelessness.  Not only has she lost her home of 42 years, she has lost a primary source of income from her bed and breakfast business, Acacia House, which she operated out of her home.  Reed is age seventy and works paat time as a contract EEO mediator with the US Postal Service in the SF Bay Area.  She needs assistance with housing and moving.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA put hReed's home up for foreclosure auction on December 10, 2015.  No one purchased the house at the auction.  The property reverted to Chase as the alleged beneficiary on Christmas Eve 2015,  A few days later two real estate agents (Mary Lou Costellanos and an unidentied associate) from Sotheby's dressed like undertakers  came to her door to deliver papers and to tell her just how sick they felt but that they were just doing their jobs.

Brenda Reed is the widow of Vietnam war hero US Army Captain James Eddie Reed who was killed in action in Vietnam on February 1, 1968 in a heavy artillery attack while serving as Company Commander of Company A, 3rd/39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. He was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars with V device, Army Commendation Medal with V device, Combat Infantryman's Badge,and other awards.  Captain Reed was Airborne Ranger.  He grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee where the City of Kingsport honored him in 2014 by naming a bridge in his honor.  His alma mater, East Tennessee State University, honored him by naming the Eddie Reed Ranger Company in the ROTC Department for him.

Brenda Reed moved into her home with her two children in 1973.  After they went off to college (Texas A&M and UC San Diego), she continued to live in her home.  In October 1991 Brenda Reed's home burned to the ground in the Oakland Firestorm, a conflagration that took 3,500 homes in one day/  She successfully rebuilt and moved back in 1994.  She enjoyed her beautiful new home and prosperity for many years until a back injury changed her employment situation as she could not travel to work as an EEO investigator and mediator.

Through a series of predatory lending practices, Washington Mutual Bank FA refinanced her property in October 2007.  She suffered a serious back injury and fell behind in her payments April 2009.  Washington Mutual Bank failed and was acquired from the FDIC as Receiver by JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA,  What is of interest is that WMBFA had ceased to exist in 2005 according to Washington Mutual Bank's 10K filed with the SEC.  The identity of the actual lender is a mystery.

Shortly after the mortgage loan was made in October 2007 by the alleged lender, WMBFA, Reed's Note was endorsed in blank by Cynthia Riley as Vice President of the non-existent WMBFA.  However Ms.. Riley's employment with WMBFA and WMB was terminated in November 2006, one year prior to the date of the Reed mortgage.  Neither was she employed by JPMorgan Chase Bank NA during the period in question. Riley in a sworn deposition in a case in Florida revealed this emplooyment.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA never acted in good faith 

 in dealing with Brenda Reed.

In July 2009 Reed applied for a loan modification at the nearest Chase branch in Oakland.  Sandra Edwards was the representative assigned to work with her..  In August 2009 Chase put her in a 3 month trial modification plan with the promise that she would be granted a permanent modification if she was successful.  She successfully made a total of five monthly payments on this three month plan.  Repeatedly the bank lost her documents.  She spend countless days at the local Chase branch repeatedly submitting her documents.  She was kept in a high state of stress.  Edwards repeatedly assured Reed that the paperwork for a  permanent loan modification was coming down, stringing her along to get more money from her.  On February 1, 2010 Sandra Edwards telephoned Reed and acknowledged that it was the anniversary date of Captain Reed's death in Vietnam after which she laughed and informed Reed that she had been turned down for a permanent modification and foreclosure was imminent.  Three days later Reed accompanied by her son met with a Chase official who proceeded to call Reed names and humiliated and abased her in front of her son.  She left his office in tears and felt like a beaten woman. 

What followed were years of harassment and abuse.Repeated submissions of applications for modification.  More broken promises.  More lost documents.  More verbal abuse.  More name calling.  More threats.  Desperate to save her home  Reed enlisted the assistance of NACA but it was more of the same abuse from Chase.  Reed finally filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2010 after which the governor of California declared a foreclosure moratorium for a short time.

During discovery Reed acquired records from Chase Bank that indicated the receipt of several payments totaling about $600,000 on the loan from an unidentified source.  It is possible that these were credit default insurance payments, paid out to an unidentified investor.

Frustrated and angry Reed emerged as a "foreclosure warrior" fighting for herself and other homeowners in distress.  She organized a  protesting the foreclosure auctions of homes on the courthouse steps in Oakland. ACCE and the Home Defender's League supported her.  She was covered by local media.  She then joined ACCE and HDL.  She marched against the banks in the streets of Oakland, Berkeley, Walnut Creek and San Francisco.  She did bank actions and sit-ins throughout the SF Bay Area to help other beleaguered home owners and helped others save their homes. She was arrested inside Chase Bank during an act of civil disobedience during the Make Banks Pay Action.  She worked with others and the California Attorney General's Office on the Mortgage Bank Settlement and the California Homeowners Bill of Rights.  She testified before the joint Senate Assembly hearing about her experience with Chase Bank; that bill was successfully passed.  Homeowners were optimistic. However the courts in California have failed to enforce the new laws.

Reed contacted US Senators Diane Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, and Congressional Representative Barbara Lee for their assistance.  Nothing came of those repeated requests for assistance.

Reed filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but that too was to no avail.

Frustrated Reed sent a bah humbug email to President Barak Obama in November 2014.  The White House figured out which bank was involved and sent a referral to the CFPB on Reed's behalf with a letter to expedite because of her military status.  The bank refused to speak with her attorney and made little effort to work with Reed at all, leaving garbled inaudible messages for her.

After exhausting every avenue to work with Chase, Reed hired attorney Jason Estavillo of Oakland who filed litigation on her behalf.  Reed  lost her case on a demurrer and Judge Ronni McLauren refused to stay the foreclosure sale even though Reed's case is under appeal.  Judge McLauren was displeased that Reed's case had been going on for years. The judge was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican. She appears to have ignored the Homeowner's Bill of Rights.

Reed's attorney and Chase's attorney (Bryan Cave in San Francisco) were in last minute negotiations to settle the case with an offer pending from Chase's attorney which Reed's attorney and she were evaluating up to the time of the foreclosure auction.  Chase Bank refused to delay the sale by even a few days so that the parties could negotiate in good faith.  Chase was holding the sword of Damocles over Reed's head which is hardly good faith negotiations.  Chase has stripped Reed's equity of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Reed's future doesn't look promising.  She has exhausted her savings. Her home was her primary asset. She is facing eviction and possible homelessness.  She is deeply concerned about her future as a seventy-year-old woman left to live off her Social Security and VA benefits of about $2,600 a month.  Rents in Oakland and the bay area have sky rocketed to upwards of $2,500 a month for a tiny one bedroom apartment with the insurgence of the tech industry. She has lost her income from her B&B.  Her daughter and son-in-law have offered temporary respite in San Diego.  Her options are returning to Kingsport, Tennessee or moving to San Diego or trying to start fresh in Oakland.  Relocating means giving up her mediation practice and further loss of income.

Brenda recently told friends that she felt like "such a failure."  Each one disagreed vehemently and emphatically stated "You fought the banks longer and harder than anyone. You are our hero."

Brenda is battered but not beaten, scared but not paralyzed, overwhelmed at times.

If you have words of wisdom or ideas for making her future brighter, please contact Brenda at

Brenda will appreciate your sharing this across the land.

Reed's Home Reconstructed after the Oakland Firestorm


  1. All courts have the inherent equitable power to vacate a judgment that has been obtained
    through the commission of fraud upon the court. Universal Oil Prods. Co. v. Root Ref. Co., 328
    U.S. 575, 580 (1946). However, “[b]ecause of their very potency, inherent powers must be
    exercised with restraint and discretion.” Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44 (1991).
    Almost all of the principles that govern a claim of fraud on the court find their genesis in
    Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford-Empire Co., 322 U.S. 238 (1944) [hereinafter Hazel-Atlas].
    In Hazel-Atlas, an attorney for Hartford wrote an article praising a Hartford product as an
    advance in the field, and arranged to have the article printed in a trade journal under the name of
    an ostensibly disinterested expert. Id. at 240. The Patent Office and the Third Circuit relied in
    part on this article in ruling in favor of Hartford in patent application and patent infringement
    cases. Id. at 240-41. The Supreme Court found conclusive evidence that this article was used for
    fraudulent purposes, and in granting relief to Hazel-Atlas explained that “[f]rom the beginning
    there has existed . . . a rule of equity to the effect that under certain circumstances, one of which
    is after-discovered fraud, relief will be granted against judgments regardless of the term of their
    entry.” Id. at 244. The Court further noted that:
    This is not simply a case of a judgment obtained with the aid of a witness who, on
    the basis of after-discovered evidence, is believed possibly to have been guilty of
    perjury. Here, even if we consider nothing but Hartford’s sworn admissions, we find
    a deliberately planned and carefully executed scheme to defraud not only the Patent
    Office but the Circuit Court of Appeals. Proof of the scheme, and of its complete
    success up to date, is conclusive.


  3. There is no statute of limitations for bringing a fraud upon the court claim. Hazel-Atlas,
    322 U.S. at 244. As a circuit court has explained, “a decision produced by fraud on the court is
    not in essence a decision at all and never becomes final.” Kenner v. Comm’r of Internal
    Revenue, 387 F.2d 689, 691 (7th Cir. 1968).


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