$35,000 for legal expenses re: a predatory lending (fraud) lawsuit against TFNB, the McGregor-based bank that loaned us funds in order to refinance our home loan and to construct The Homestead at 3218. Any donation amount helps in what could be a lengthy fight to save our home & business.
We're using this section of The Homestead at 3218 website to post videos, news releases and announcements about us and our financial fight to hang on to our rural Crawford, Texas farm and the men's resort, RV park & campground we opened on a small portion of it on 5/20/16.
--Rob (left) & Mark (right), 9/22/20
September 22, 2020
TEXAS GAY COUPLE HOODWINKED BY LOCAL PREDATORY BANK PRACTICES
Nestled in a gently sloped valley between two hills in the rural Prairie Chapel community of Crawford, Texas, one or so miles from former President George and Laura Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch and 25 miles West northwest of Waco, lies the 185-acre ancestral ranch of the Mattlage family. The property was an original Texas Land Grant to Mattlage immigrants from Germany in the 1880s. Mark Mattlage and his spouse, Rob Snowden, are a gay couple of 41 years, legally married since 2014 and owners of the farm since 2008. Mark’s dad was born on the property in 1921 and he has had a sibling buried on the property since 1941.
In 2015 the couple decided to open an upscale, all male, private, membership only resort – The Homestead at 3218 - on a few acres behind their farm residence. The resort was to cater to the gay community in the beginning but now includes all men. The couple then entered into discussions with The First National Bank of McGregor (now TFNB|Your Bank For Life) a local bank that acted as Trustee for Mark and his siblings guardianship fund for many years in the 1960s and periodically banked their trust funds from 1947 until 1970. Mark’s long history with the bank caused him to trust the institution.
Construction of the five suite “Rainey Creek House”, a 4,000 square foot pool house that is a near replica of the original farm home that set on the property but burned in 1962; a 3,000 square foot recreation center built upon the foundation of a 1920’s barn; an RV park; small campground and a future intimate restaurant and bar called “Longwood Tavern”.
TFNB entered into an agreement to fund construction loans for the resort project in an amount totaling almost $1,000,000.00. Some months after construction was completed, TFNB reneged on capitalizing the construction loans into the small farm loan it already held on the property, stating it had never made such a promise. Mr. Mattlage and Mr. Snowden would never have encumbered a sentimental property without assurances from the bank and feel they are victimized by what appears to be predatory lending practices by TFNB. At the beginning of construction, the property appraised at nearly one million dollars. Today, with improvements added, the property is valued close to 3 million. TFNB would profit by one million or more on the resale of the property. Mark and Rob’s life savings and inheritances are tied up in the property.
TFNB has broken several banking standards in dealing with the couple. They list their grievances against the bank as predatory, discrimination based upon age and sexual orientation, the bank’s failure to provide them with Truth In Lending statements before construction began, the bank’s failure to capitalize the construction loans into the existing loan on the property as promised and changing the terms of the loan(s) after construction was completed.
TFNB’s intentional failure to provide the couple with TIL (Truth In Lending) statements and made the excuse it was not required to on farmland property even though a commercial business was being added to their homesteaded property. TFNB falsified records back-dating legal documents and cross-collateralizing Mark’s mother’s home in nearby McGregor with the homestead farm after having told Mark his mother’s house was not cross-collateralized with the farm. In a meeting with the bank’s CEO, David Littlewood, and other bank officers in May of 2018, Mr. Littlewood stated to the couple that they were too old to operate The Homestead at 3218 business or any other business. He suggested that they needed to list the property for sale before the bank called the loans on it. The couple was able to convince the bank to do an interest only payment schedule for two years at which time the bank said it would reconsider consolidating the loans into the original mortgage. At a later date, the bank failed to offer any remedies (including the consolidation of construction loans) to their financial situation.
Mark and Rob feel TFNB has broken several federal banking statutes. TFNB had not produced important documents to the borrowers as well as discriminated against the couple on age and sexual orientation. It reneged on its own promises to the couple, falsified documents including a document purportedly signed by the couple which forfeits their homestead legal status on the property. Significantly one of the signatures on the document is a signature Mark has not used on legal documents since 2011.
In the final analysis of their situation the couple has determined they were set up by TFNB to fail so that the bank could seize the property for resale and thus realize a handsome profit in doing so. The Mattlage farm has been highly sought after for years by other farmers and investors. It is a fertile property with one of the few spring-fed natural water sources in the area running through it.
TFNB has filed foreclosure on both the farm/resort property and Mark’s mother’s home. The couple, ages 69 and 71, will lose their life savings, investment funds, and Mark’s family legacy. They will become homeless on October 6th if TFNB prevails in its foreclosure proceedings. The couple filed for federal bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 last December. All efforts to refinance have been ineffective primarily due to COVID-19. Banks are having to restructure their loan criteria to service their existing portfolios.
September 23, 2020
TFNB THREATENS TO SILENCE US, DENYING ALL WRONG DOINGS ON THEIR BEHALF
Our bankruptcy attorney received a scathing letter from TFNB’s attorney threatening to sue us for making false claims about TFNB and request the court grant them a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to silence our online & press criticism of what we feel is the bank’s predatory lending practice (promises made, promises broken), age discrimination against us (being told – twice – that we are too old to be operating any business) and homophobic discrimination against our venue and us personally.
September 25, 2020
WE ATTEMPT TO MAKE A VERY GENEROUS SETTLEMENT OFFER TO THE BANK THAT WOULD STILL LEAVE THEM A VERY LUCRATIVE PROFIT
Our attorney made a verbal settlement offer to TFNB’s attorney. The offer suggested that we retain our farm residence along with the men’s resort venue upon 28 acres of the 185-acre ranch. We were negotiating to deed the remaining 157 acres to the bank to sell as it wishes. The bank would realize a profit of upwards of $300K+, in addition to the approximately $270,000 in interest-only payments we have made to TFNB since 2016. Further, we also suggested that TFNB carry an additional $300K note with interest on the 28 acres of collateral for a period up to one year while we continued to search for an exit lender. TFNB refused.
TFNB REJECTS THE OFFER
Later that day TFNB’s attorney rejected the offer, informing our attorney that TFNB would be foreclosing on the property in its entirety . Furthermore, TFNB’s attorney informed our attorney that TFNB will be doing so in a way that not only takes everything we have invested in the property, approximately $750,000, and allow TFNB to sell the property for a profit of ~$1.6 million dollars. We would receive nothing from “their” profit. Our entire equity investment and life savings will be gone.
TFNB RETRACTS THEIR THREAT OF A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (TRO) - IMPLIES WE'RE NOT STRONG ENOUGH
Following the conversation where TFNB rejected our offer it stated it would no longer be seeking a TRO because it felt we couldn’t gather any significant group to protest their actions against us and our resort. However, they stated they would proceed to foreclosure on October 6 to make us homeless and destitute.
October 2 & 5, 2020
(Unless noted otherwise, all hearings & meetings are telephonic due to COVID-19 restrictions)
WE FILE A PREDATORY LENDING (FRAUD) LAWSUIT AGAINST FIRST NATIONAL BANK of McGREGOR/TFNB| Your Bank for Life
As of October 5, The First National Bank of McGregor/TFNB rejected our good faith attempts to settle our differences with foreclosure looming over our heads the next day, October 6. Therefore, we filed a predatory lending (fraud) lawsuit against the bank, its president/CEO and the loan officer/Ex.VP responsible for and in charge of our account. The original petition for suit was filed on Friday, October 2. The petition lists multiple causes of action (99 pleadings over 18 pages). The suit was filed in McLennan County 414th District Court, Waco. The suit requests the court to place a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) stopping the foreclosure action. The District Court judge granted the TRO with a Temporary Injunction (TI) hearing scheduled for Tuesday, October 13th.
October 6, 2020
BANKRUPTCY COURT HEARING - 9 AM
TFNB's attorney requests an emergency hearing with our bankruptcy attorney & US Bankruptcy Judge King regarding our filing for dismissal from bankruptcy protection. The bank's attorney argued that our request for dismissal from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Federal Court (and filing the fraud suit and TRO in state court) was improper and should be only in the bankruptcy court. The attorney requested that foreclosure be allowed to proceed. While Judge King, Federal Bankruptcy Court, delayed our motion to be dismissed from bankruptcy, he did not object to the state court's TRO and allowed it to remain active. The judge stated that by granting TFNB's previous request to lift a "stay" to permit the foreclosure sale, the judge allowed us to move forward with our lawsuit against TFNB. A formal dismissal hearing was scheduled for October 13th.
STATE DISTRICT COURT HEARING - 11:15 AM
TFNB's defense attorney (without the presence of TFNB's bankruptcy attorney) responds to the filing of the TRO in the requested emergency hearing. TFNB's defense attorney states the TRO is contrary to the directive of the bankruptcy judge. The attorney was misinformed. However, our bankruptcy attorney joined our litigation attorney in the hearing informing the court that the bankruptcy judge raised no objection at all to the lawsuit or the TRO. Our litigation attorney provided the court with supporting case history rendering the TRO valid. TFNB's attorney later requested the state court's TI hearing be continued to an undetermined date. All parties agreed and the TRO remains in place.
October 13, 2020
BANKRUPTCY COURT HEARING - 2 PM
This hearing was for the purpose of dismissing the Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And, we are now suing TFNB on several causes. On October 8th & 9th, TFNB submitted two motions to the court objecting to our motion to dismiss the bankruptcy. TFNB's attorney requested Chapter 11 be converted to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. One of the bank's objections states, in part, "(we) misrepresented to TFNB the business to be conducted on the Crawford property". However, the bank had knowledge of the operation and also access to our company website & Facebook page as early as August 1, 2015. TFNB also had our full business plan spreadsheets. The result of the hearing was: the judge approved converting Ch. 11 bankruptcy to Ch. 7. We await scheduling for the next steps in the bankruptcy process. We remain positive about the outcome and our future but "our struggle" continues for now.
September 23, 2020