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Foreclosures and a Civil Suit Pending for Both Ward Two Candidates

Ward Two City Council Candidates are named as defendants in several pending civil lawsuits.

Many questions from the public were brought up on Thursday Feb. 3 at the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum at City Hall. Gulfport City Council Ward Two Candidates Barbara Banno and Avrio Taylor were in attendance to educate people about their campaign and goals for the city. Among the questions asked were, “Are you a party to any pending litigation, directly or indirectly?”

Avrio Taylor answered “no” and Barbara Banno answered “yes, my corporation”.

Gulfport Patch has learned that according to court documents, both candidates are defendants in more than one pending civil case.

According to Pinellas County Public Records Banno is listed as a defendant in a pending civil contract suit filed by Colleen Murphy, a former employee of Banno’s local business. Banno is being sued for breach of contract. “The lawsuit that’s currently pending, will not have any negative effect on Business Women of Gulfport and it doesn’t have anything to do with the day to day operation of how we run Stella’s (Deli).”

UPDATE: Colleen Murphy has since contacted Gulfport Patch about the civil suit filed against Banno. Murphy says she was not an employee and bought into and owned a part of the business. "The issue of ownership is what will go to court and my right to be repaid the investment funds. The court will decide if there will be any negative effect on Business Women of Gulfport."  

Barbara Banno is also listed as one of two defendants in the foreclosure proceedings at 283 18th Ave S. St. Petersburg. According to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser website the triplex was purchased on Feb.16, 2005 by the current owner for $255,000. Current market value is estimated between $128,000 and $182,000. According to court documents the mortgage went into default on May 1, 2009. At that time, the total amount left on the loan was $204,472.00 (not including interest owed on the note).

“My name is on the deed, but not the foreclosure. Ultimately, it doesn’t affect me, or my credit. Nothing goes onto my credit report. It wasn’t ever a liability or anything. My name was put on the deed because my partner wanted to make sure that if anything happened to her that I was taken care of. Those are the things we have to think about, I don’t have the same rights as a married couple,” Banno said.

St. Petersburg Attorney and foreclosure expert Charles Gallagher says despite what Banno says, she is named as a party in the foreclosure. “She had to be as a co-owner by virtue of the deed. The bank has to name her to foreclose her off,” Gallagher said. Gallagher also says if the foreclosure goes through it will be on Banno’s credit report in addition to part of the public record.

When asked about her answer the night of the forum at City Hall, Banno responded, “I just think that I never cared to have this brought up. It’s not about me, but it affects my partner, so that’s why I never really felt the need to bring it up.”

“I do not think this is a reflection on me. I think having my name on the deed doesn’t affect who I am, and my ability to (help) run the city,” Banno said.

According to Avrio Taylor’s response, he too, was not completely honest with the public. Taylor answered that he did not have pending litigations.

“The public records are very clear, Mr. Taylor is involved in several pending civil lawsuits,” Attorney Charles Gallagher said.

Pinellas County public records show Avrio Taylor has three Pinellas County properties and one property in Santa Fe, NM. In addition to those pending litigations, Taylor and his wife filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in May 2009, according to the United States Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Florida.

“I took a responsible way. Lots and lots of people are having a hard time because of the decline in their real estate. It’s taken all of our savings, we’ve recovered quite well, we’re going (through) it with integrity, it’s just an honorable way to go. You have to do the honorable thing, regardless of circumstances given,” Taylor said.

Taylor says he and his wife have agreed to pay back creditors over a 5 year period, beginning in 2009.

“Both me and my wife, we’re very interested in doing everything in our life with integrity. You don’t have to do that, it’s the right thing to do. If the city has a tough time, you still have to do things with integrity. Integrity comes first. What I’m standing for is pro-community. If everything else fails, community comes first,” Taylor said.

Avrio Taylor says all of the properties in foreclosure are rental properties.

“The property values’ gone down and the rent (has) gone down. (Even) if the property value increases, if it continues like that, in 15 years, I could break even. It’s just not worth it to me, 15 years of work just to break even.  We’re paying them back 100% everything we’ve taken,” Taylor said.

Pending: According to public documents Chase Home Financial LLC filed a complaint to foreclose the property at 5628 S. 20th Ave, Gulfport, FL 33707, which appears to be a duplex. Avrio and Deborah Taylor bought the property on Sept. 15, 2006 for $194,000. Court documents show the couple defaulted on the mortgage payments beginning November 1st, 2009.

Attorney Charles Gallagher said, after reviewing court documents, as of November 30, 2010, that property belongs to Chase Home Financial LLC. “Chase owns the property, but Avrio owes them (about) $184,000 as it stands.” Gallagher says a deficiency judgment on that property is valid for 20 years, meaning Taylor has to satisfy the court’s final judgment.

Pending: BAC Home Loans Servicing and Countrywide Home Loans Servicing filed a complaint to foreclose the property at 5608 26th Ave S. in Gulfport, FL 33707, which Taylor and his wife Deborah bought on June 14, 2005 for $312,000. Current market value is estimated between $175,000 and $206,000.

The couple defaulted on the mortgage payments beginning April 1, 2009. At that time, the total amount left on the loan $173,327.46 (not including interest owed on the note).

Pending: CitiMortgage, Inc. filed a complaint to foreclose the property at 3127 11th Ave N. St. Petersburg, FL 33713. According to court documents, Taylor purchased the single-family home for $225,000 in Jan. 25, 2006. The current market value is estimated between $115,000 - $136,000.

The couple defaulted on the mortgage payments beginning March 1, 2009. At that time, the total amount left on the loan was $237,864.73 (not including interest owed on the note).

Pending: 4751 Morning Lame, Santa Fe, NM 87507

Attorney Charles Gallagher is a foreclosure expert. His firm Gallagher & Associates sponsored and presented at the City of St. Petersburg Foreclosure Forum this past year.

The Gulfport City Municipal elections are on Tuesday March 8. For more information on voting locations and times check out the city’s website.

Philip Penrose March 03, 2011 at 01:41 PM
Learning little tidbits like these about candidates is another reason not to rush into early voting. It' s more important to learn about your candidates rather than to vote early to avoid a few minutes in line at the polls.
Frank Verdino March 03, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I won't ask who you are voting for Phillip, but does any of this information change your opinion of either candidate from say, one week ago?
Linda Hersey March 03, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Excellent dive into the issues and background of this story, Cherlene. I am sure it will help inform and educate voters!
Philip Penrose March 03, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Yes...both.
L Haines March 06, 2011 at 12:30 AM
My husband & I, just as Mr. Taylor and his wife, have gone through similar mortgage issues due to the economy. With us, it is our primary residence. Like them we are working hard to pay off all our debts. That doesn't make Avrio Taylor a bad choice at all. Actauly, it's admirable that he has assumed and is taking care of his responsibilities.
Philip Penrose March 06, 2011 at 12:41 AM
I would suggest going back and reading the first two paragraphs of the article. I think the main point is how/when the information about both candidates came out. I'm almost certain neither candidate is a "bad person", but they're running for public office - so they have to be 'public'. To use an annoying political term, both 'misspoke' when answering the original question. Nothing admirable about that in regard to either candidate.
Diane March 06, 2011 at 11:37 AM
I'd like to bring up a concern about Ms. Banno's property located at 283 18th Ave S, St Petersburg, Fl. Being a neighbor of this property, I have some concerns about what is going on there. Yesterday, crews of handymen were at the home dismantling everything, and I mean everything. I asked the foreman of one crew who stated that the owners wanted their property. This includes air conditioner, doors, garage doors that were installed on the garage etc. Would a responsible homeowner leave their fellow neighbors with the "mess" that this property is going to create? The house is now a potential haven for vagrants, drug users, etc. Why the need to remove the garage doors off of the garage? The AC? Come on now, is this really fair to your neighbors? My other question is that this house has been fully rented for the last 2 or 3 years. Has the house been in foreclosure that long?
Cherlene Willis March 06, 2011 at 03:22 PM
Diane, According to Pinellas County Public Records, Wells Fargo Bank sent a demand letter to Barbara Banno, on September 8, 2009, asking for payments to bring the loan up to date. On October 15, 2009, Wells Fargo Bank filed a complaint to foreclosure the property. Hope that helps answer your question.
mtober March 07, 2011 at 01:15 AM
Diane- did you confirm the work crews had been sent by the owner vs. being thiefs.?
Diane March 07, 2011 at 02:16 AM
Yes, the police were at the property today. The police initiated a codes compliance case against the property at 283 18th Ave South, St Petersburg earlier this afternoon.

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