Fort Myers, Florida - A pair of Fort Myers men who invented Bagel Bites have left a bad taste in the mouths of a Cape Coral couple being evicted from their house by the culinary duo.
Stan Garczynski and Bob Mosher, who created the bite-size pizza bagels in 1985, bought the waterfront home of Nickie Haggart, 70, and Jim Haggart, 83, at a foreclosure auction in January for $4,350.
Before the real estate market crashed, the 2,991-square-foot home was listed for $1.2 million. It is currently assessed at $387,906.
The house was placed on the auction block after Cape Coral foreclosed on an unpaid water assessment impact fee lien that totaled $620 plus unspecified interest, penalties and attorney fees, according to court records.
The assessment was levied by the Cape as part of the utilities expansion project, which was suspended in 2009 because of concerns over costs to residents and management methods but is set to restart this year.
Nickie Haggart, who was notified Wednesday she and her husband must vacate by Friday morning, said the couple were hit hard by the economic downturn and stopped paying their mortgage five years ago after buying the house in 2004.
It went into foreclosure, but they thought the lender would pay the taxes, assessments and property insurance until the property could be sold, she said. She admits they may have received notices about a foreclosure auction but were preoccupied with health issues.
In February, two days after undergoing a mastectomy to remove a cancerous lump in her breast, she found a note on her door. She then received a call that turned her life upside down, she said.
"(Garczynski) called me and he said, 'I need to get in the house to take pictures,' because he wanted to see what he had to repair before they moved in that weekend," she said.
She said she told Garczynski she had no idea what he was talking about and he explained he now owned the home. She told him they couldn't leave because she was still fighting cancer and her husband was in the hospital with congestive heart failure.
"They said, 'We're sorry for your misfortune, but we really don't care what your circumstances are because we own the house,'" she said.
Though her lawyer has bought them extra time since then, she said the final deadline is Friday.
"Can you think of anything more humiliating? The police are gonna come to our door," she said. On Wednesday, she was still looking for a place to move.
Garczynski and Mosher referred comment to their lawyer, Gordon Duncan, who said his clients own the home fair and square.
Duncan said it's been more than 100 days since the home was purchased and the Haggarts have yet to move out. He said Garczynski and Mosher even offered to rent the house to the Haggarts, but the couple refused. Nickie Haggart denied a rental offer was made.
"Here we are now in April. They've known since October that that was going to happen," he said. "To suggest that anyone has been unfair to them I think is misplaced."
He also pointed out Jim Haggart was an attorney and that the Haggarts were previously evicted from a Sanibel home in 2010 for not paying rent.
"I don't think my clients want to be painted as callous but, at some point, they're entitled to possession what they bought 100 days ago," he said.
Marshall Cohen, the Haggarts' attorney, said his clients knew they'd eventually have to move from the home, just not under these circumstances.
And Cohen said it's Chase Bank that really got hosed on the deal. The bank owned the property once it went into foreclosure and should have received several notices about the lien and the impending auction but, for some reason, never acted, he said.
He said the bank apparently overlooked the water assessment.
As a result, it let a property likely valued around $500,000 slip through its fingers over a $619.58 lien, he said.
Though he's not sure what happened in this case, he said paperwork is sometimes lost during the frequent switching of law firms representing banks.
Nickie Haggart, meanwhile, said she still can't believe how she's been treated.
"It's a really slimy way to make a living," she said.