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Wells Fargo official fired over house squatting

The Wells Fargo-owned beach house in Malibu Colony. The former owners lost money to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The Wells Fargo-owned beach house in Malibu Colony. The former owners lost money to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. (Lisa Baertlein/ Reuters)
By David Sarno and Peter Hong
Los Angeles Times / September 15, 2009

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LOS ANGELES - Wells Fargo & Co. said it fired an employee accused of using a bank-owned home in the exclusive Malibu Colony for personal use.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that neighbors had seen Cheronda Guyton, a Wells Fargo senior vice president, using the beachfront home after the bank acquired it from former owners Lawrence and Linda Elins.

A real estate agent for the Elins said the couple was financially devastated by losses in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and had signed over the property to Wells Fargo to help satisfy a debt.

Guyton, responsible for commercial foreclosed properties for Wells Fargo, could not be reached for comment.

In a statement yesterday, Wells Fargo said its internal investigation concluded that “a single team member was responsible for violating our company policies. As a result, employment of this individual has been terminated.’’

“We deeply regret the activities that have taken place as they do not reflect the conduct we expect of our team members,’’ the statement added. Although the statement did not mention the fired employee by name, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Jennifer Langan confirmed it was Guyton.

Neighbors in the Malibu neighborhood, which counts actor Tom Hanks among its residents, said they saw Guyton’s family staying at the house and that Guyton apparently hosted a party in August at which guests were ferried to the beach house from a yacht offshore.