Struggling homeowners file lawsuits against Pasadena-based OneWest Bank

PASADENA — Some homeowners who believe they are being pushed toward foreclosure by Pasadena-based OneWest Bank have filed lawsuits.

"I personally don't know what the evidence is, but I'd be quite shocked if that was going on,'' Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, told the Pasadena Star-News. "I don't know how the banks can unilaterally raise mortgage rates when a bankruptcy is going on.''

Two Sacramento-area attorneys, Peter Macaluso and Mark Wolff, have filed several lawsuits on behalf of struggling borrowers whose mortgage loans were held by OneWest.

The actions allege the bank routinely performs an escrow analysis soon after a borrower files for bankruptcy. Following that analysis, the homeowner's monthly mortgage payment is hiked — sometimes substantially.

"They changed the mortgage payment for one of my clients eight times in eight months,'' Macalusco told the Star-News, adding that the hikes place monthly mortgage payments further out of reach for financially strapped borrowers, effectively pushing them toward foreclosure.

The lawyer said OneWest, the successor firm to disgraced lender IndyMac Bank, can make more money doing that than keeping borrowers in their homes.

Officials with OneWest and the FDIC have declined to comment on the lawsuits, it was reported.

FDIC spokesperson David Barr told the Star-News that only 7 percent of the mortgage loans OneWest holds originated as IndyMac loans that are subject to a shared-loss agreement, under which the federal agency shares th efinancial loss from bad mortgages. The remaining 93 of OneWest