A 79-year-old woman who stands to lose her Southeast Los Angeles home to a bail bondsman in a dispute over $1,500 won a reprieve Monday when a Superior Court judge stepped in and ordered a temporary halt to foreclosure proceedings.
"I've been sick wondering where I'm going to go," said Ledonia Beasley, a widow who is disabled and lives on $602 a month in Social Security and supplemental benefits.
Beasley said she has lived in the two-bedroom house for 22 years and described herself as a pillar of the neighborhood. "They all look up to me," she said.
The house, worth about $90,000, was a gift to her from its former owner, an elderly man for whom she worked until his death, she said. The mortgage was paid off long ago, she said.
Beasley said Monday she first realized her house was in jeopardy in April, when she received a notice of default from a foreclosure service demanding $1,138. She said she was "shocked" by the notice and had "no idea" that her home was involved in any of her dealings with Dennis Hale Jr., operator of Hale Bail Bonds at 7701 S. Broadway.
Contrary to Hale's claim, she said, she did not sign over a trust deed on her house to secure the bail. The trust deed that Hale has recorded for the foreclosure is a forgery in which her name is misspelled, she said in court papers.
Last September, Beasley paid Hale $115 to post a $1,000 bond for her granddaughter, who had been arrested on a drug charge. "I knew she was sick, and I wasn't going to let her stay in jail," Beasley said.
Her granddaughter missed her first court appearance because of illness, but eventually appeared in court and was acquitted of the charge, Beasley said.
Ultimately, Hale did not have to forfeit the bail, but incurred court costs and attorneys fees because of the missed court appearance, according to court records.
In February, Hale sent Beasley a bill for $365 in expenses, which she did not pay. Her attorneys, William J. Flanagan and Marc Bender of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, argued Monday that the fees were unreasonably high and that they were not substantiated by receipts.
Costs of the foreclosure action have brought the bill to more than $1,500.
Hearing Set Sept. 8
Neither Hale nor his attorney appeared in court Monday for a hearing on Beasley's request for a temporary restraining order to block the sale of the house. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edward M. Ross granted the order and set another hearing for Sept. 8.
Reached by telephone Monday, Hale said he had not been notified of the hearing.
Hale said he had made repeated attempts to get Beasley to pay off the costs he had incurred because of the missed court date, but that she ignored his requests. "I told her if she wasn't going to attempt to pay me, I was going to put it in foreclosure," he said.
He denied that the trust deed is a forgery. "If her name is misspelled, then she misspelled it," Hale said.
"I don't know this lady and I wouldn't get her granddaughter out of jail without some collateral," he said. "She signed over $1,000 worth of trust deed. . . . This all started out as just a minor thing."