Revisiting Whistleblower, Part II

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN and PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: January 2, 2012 - 11:56 AM

At year's end, we've contacted some of the people we've written about in 2011 to see whether their issues have been resolved. One update follows a 2009 article.

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Mardee Jerde of Rush City has lived in her house for 16 years. But a 2008 accident that left her unable to work has put her mortgage in danger of foreclosure. Her attorney is hopeful that she can stay in her home.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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MARDEE JERDE

Rush City woman is still in her foreclosed home

Despite myriad health problems and an exploding furnace, Mardee Jerde is happy to still have a roof over her head. Less than a week after Jerde forked over nearly $50,000 in mortgage payments and attorneys' fees last year, her mortgage holder, JPMorgan Chase, told her she didn't qualify for a permanent loan modification, the one thing that would have made it possible for her to remain in her home.

After Whistleblower reported Jerdee's plight Aug. 7, the bank offered her $1,754 to vacate the home by Sept. 7, $877 if she left by Sept. 22.

That didn't happen. Attorney Bill Butler took her case after the Whistleblower column and has so far forestalled Jerde's eviction. Jerde is one of almost 200 people involved in a collective action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against Chase and other banks, alleging that the securitized mortgages held by the banks are invalid and unenforceable.

Chase has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Even if that is successful, Jerde has options, Butler said.

"If the motion to dismiss is successful, we would be appealing that," he said. "That should be successful in holding off the eviction, and if it's not ... she should still have a right to have her eviction tried. So she will still have recourse."

Meanwhile, Jerde said, she has battled kidney failure, blood clots and internal bleeding of unknown origin. Last September, her furnace blew up, leaving Jerde with a $4,000 repair bill. She is now fighting with her homeowner's insurance about the damage repair costs.

"I'm lucky to be alive," Jerde said. "I didn't think I was going to make it to Christmas."

WINTHROP EASTMAN

Beer sign owner forced to reject grant

Frustrated with having to repeatedly pay the city to remove graffiti from the back of the iconic Grain Belt beer sign in downtown Minneapolis, Winthrop Eastman applied for a city graffiti abatement "microgrant."

He was awarded up to $10,000 on the condition he find matching funds. He was able to drum up about $5,000 in promised matches, but he said that wasn't enough to provide a lasting solution to the vandalism.

Since Whistleblower wrote about his situation in April, Eastman -- who lives in Texas and represents the trust that owns the sign -- has been hit with two more bills for graffiti removal. The most recent tab was for $700.

Eastman said he wishes the city would treat the graffiti as art and not paint it over because that "just creates a clean 'canvas' for the next tagging."

At some point, Eastman hopes to start a blog to gauge public interest in a site improvement plan created by a Nicollet Island resident and an architect.

SUZANNE JAMES

Reinstated psychologist cancels license

Two years after Whistleblower wrote about conditions placed on a psychologist's license for making a disturbed client sicker, Suzanne James' unconditional license was reinstated, according to a November order by the Minnesota Board of Psychology.

But James will no longer practice in Minnesota. Shortly after the board acted, James terminated her licensure, according to Angelina Barnes, the board's executive director.

In 2009, James was disciplined following a complaint regarding a patient who thought she had been the victim of government mind-control experiments and was suffering delusions about a satanic cult. The board said James violated numerous laws by taking actions that encouraged the delusions.

After Medicare learned of James' conduct, the patient was instructed to reimburse Medicare for the $21,000 it shelled out for a year's worth of therapy sessions, according to Kelly McCormick, a relative of the patient. "It's still really wrong that she got her license back at all when you uproot someone's life," McCormick said.

The board said it lifted the limitations on James' license because she fulfilled the conditions placed on her practice by the board, including counseling and training on professional boundaries.

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  • The front of the legendary Grain Belt beer sign on Nicollet Island is graffiti-free, but the same can’t always be said for the flip side.

  • Kelly McCormick watched one of her relatives live under the spell of Suzanne James for years.

  • Dr. Suzanne James

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