For more than six months, says city attorney Deana Johnson, affiliated with law firm Insley Race in Atlanta, the city has been ordering BofA to tear the building down. The bank, she says, "has not been responsive to date," has been cited for failure to comply and is accruing a fine of $500 a day. Says mayor Dixon, "They are in contempt. People need to be held accountable."
A city court judge has ordered a June 28 hearing, at which BofA's local manager will have to show cause why he should not be arrested and jailed for contempt.
Bank of America maintains that it is not the owner of the house. "My understanding," says Bauwens, "is that we don't own the property, so we can't do anything. Somewhere back in time, when we did service the loan on the property, there was an assumption that we were responsible. But if you run the title, you'll see that Bank of America is not listed anywhere."
Who does own the house? The owner who abandoned it, she says.
Attorney Johnson disagrees. "The assessor's office," she says, "shows that BofA owns it and has paid the taxes."
Asked if she thinks the bank manager will show up for the hearing, Johnson says, "If I were being threatened with jail, I'd be present."
If he doesn't, the phrase "bankers in pinstripes" may take on a whole new meaning.