WALLACE (CBS13) — A Calaveras County man sent a letter to the FBI threatening to burn his house down in an attempt to gain attention to his foreclosure proceedings.

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Department was alerted by the FBI on Wednesday that Bruno Wendland, 78, sent a letter stating he intended to burn his house down.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to 280 Oliveira Court in Wallace with a hostage negotiator and briefly talked to Wendland before taking him to a local hospital for observation. He was later released and not charged with any crime.

In an interview Friday with CBS13’s Andrea Menniti, Wendland, a retired contractor, said and his wife, Erika, spent their life savings to buy the land and materials for the home. They received a $720,000 loan from IndyMac bank in 2007 ago for renovations but with only $2,000 a month in Social Security income, the couple can’t afford the mortgage payments.

Wendland said the bank was aware of their limited income but issued the loan with the idea that Wendland could sell the home for a profit after renovations. The 4,869-square-foot home on 5 acres was appraised at $2 million in 2008 before the market tanked, he said. It’s now underwater.

When IndyMac went out of business, OneWest Bank took over the loan and foreclosed on the Wendlands.

Wendland said he staged the arson because he wants attention to his situation. He says the mortgage is fraudulent and predatory. He has been fighting the foreclosure in court.

Watch Menniti’s report during the 6 p.m. newscast for more on this story.

Comments (10)
  1. postalvixon says:

    Sorry I am not feeling bad for this man or his wife. They knew they were unable to pay the mortgage on a $720k loan BEFORE they signed the papers. They played russian roulette with the market and lost. I think they should be responsible to repay the government for the FBI negotiators and other emergency crew that responded to his threat.

    1. hollyb says:

      You’re not sorry; why say you are?

      The lenders played Russian roulette. The couple would be unable to obtain a loan under the current, tightened rules. The rules should NEVER have been relaxed, but were under Republican leadership and deregulation. While it’s true that this guy is trying to use the media to his advantage, it’s the smartest thing he could do right now. He just went about it clumsily. He should have asked some Occupy protesters to show up and picket.

      1. Matt says:

        This has nothing to do with DEREGULATION. It has to do with banks relaxing their standards. They CHOSE to do that and when the R.E. market tanked they got burned. Too bad for the borrower in this case but he has no right to complain. He is 78 years old, he knew his income and what the payment was and whether he could make the payment. Market was already falling, why would anyone think that the house could be sold for more than the loan balance?

  2. trj says:

    He agreed to it knowing he could not afford it. Let him lose it all. Just because YOU took a chance and it did not work out for you YOU should not be bailed out. I bet you were like a dog waiting to get fed when they were giving you the check.

  3. andy says:

    I don’t understand these people blame the banks, a 3 years old know how to do this math. How can you afford to pay a $720K load with $2000 income? He try to make a big profit off the deal now failed and blames the bank? What a shame….

  4. MyCousinVinnie says:

    Let’s look at this another way… if I borrowed 750,000 from ‘Guido’, and then couldnt pay him back, do I blame Guido for lending me the money and then capping me, or so I blame myself for borrowing way way WAY over my head?

  5. JoeCamel says:

    It’s like if I tried to sue the tobbaco companies today for my cancer, even though they have a big label saying ‘this product will give me cancer’. Doesnt anyone in America take accountability for their own actions anymore?

  6. HollyB says:

    Just because you all can’t grasp the idea behind bank regulation doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tightened. Sure, the couple is not at all bright. But they wouldn’t be in this predicament if G-Dub hadn’t been elected. Don’t bother rebutting; I’m out of this popsicle stand.

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