(NaturalNews) Wells Fargo is involved in all types of banking business. Though not as newsworthy as J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, or CitiBank, Wells Fargo is among them both financially and in physical appearance, with over 6,200 retail branches in more than 40 states. Its corporate headquarters are in San Francisco, California. Wells Fargo has over 1,000 branches in that state, which puts it at the top of the list with Bank of America for the most retail bank branches in California.
Wells Fargo's investment, financial market, and commercial loan service activities are worldwide, while they focus a lot on mortgages, savings and checking services, and other private loans and credit services in the USA. Wells Fargo has been praised by banking business analysts as showing their commitment to customer service by maintaining so many branches, but how they treat their customers sometimes contradicts that apparent commitment.
An exception to the rule or simply business as usual?
Dale Leroy St. Claire sued Wells Fargo Bank, Bakersfield branch manager Nima Farokhirad and employee Stephen P. Rodriguez, in Kern County Superior Court for being first harassed and then falsely arrested.
Bakersfield, California, is located at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley around 110 miles north of Los Angeles. Its population is 350,000. The San Joaquin Valley in central California extends another 110 miles from Bakersfield to Fresno. It is a rural area where much of California's agriculture is cultivated.
St. Claire is the trustee for the Doris Townsend trust. He assumed that position legally upon Townsend's death in September of 2012. Shortly after her death, St. Claire went to the Wells Fargo branch where Townsend banked and showed bank employees her death certificate and the legal documentation entrusting him with access rights to the Townsend trust's funds.
The branch employees told him that there would be a 40-day hold on Doris Townsend's funds, and he could could assume access to the trust when he returned after that 40-day freeze. Apparently, they had no problems at that time with the papers he had brought in to confirm the validity of his trustee position. They didn't request other papers, which should be done when they're submitted.
So, St. Claire waited out the 40 days and returned on October 18, 2012. His request for a withdrawal was refused. Branch manager Nima Farokhirad and employee Stephen P. Rodriguez told St. Claire that they didn't have the right forms on file for him. And even worse, they wouldn't inform him what those right forms were. Well, bureaucratic bungling does happen fairly often, doesn't it? But what happened next was beyond that.
St. Claire made what he considered to be an obviously sarcastic joke and commented, "What do I have to do, plant a bomb in your bank [to access the trust funds]?" Without any hesitation, the manager called the police. St. Claire stuck around, sitting in a waiting area and chatting with employees and customers, waiting for the police to arrive. He knew the situation was absurd.
According to St. Claire, the police also realized that the situation didn't require an arrest. After a discussion, they were about ready to leave and drop the whole thing. But bank manager Nima Farokhirad demanded that the police arrest St. Claire and take him away.
She wanted to place charges? Very vengeful, but more likely protective of the branch's screw-up with the trust fund and St. Claire's right to it.
The police obliged, handcuffed the man and took him away. He was booked without evidence of a crime or warrant and had to post bail and hire an attorney to represent him. Eventually, St. Claire did manage to access the trust.
His suit is designed to recover his legal costs totaling $11,500 for being arrested, and damages for mental anguish and tarnishing his reputation. As of March 3, 2014, Wells Fargo was avoiding communication on the matter.