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Couple Living in Cadillac After Losing $4 Million Townhouse

July 21, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mylene and Joseph Liggett are living a riches-to-rags existence, sleeping in a 1977 Cadillac to publicize their claim that a bank fraudulently snatched their $4.25 million townhouse.

″We’re trying to get a message across - that the bank has stolen our money,″ Liggett, 67, said as he stood beside his decaying Sedan de Ville in front of the house Friday. ″The humiliation doesn’t bother me. All I want is justice.″

The bank denied all allegations made by the Liggetts.

The five-story townhouse is just off exclusive Sutton Place, where the Liggetts say they have lived for 14 years. The tree-shaded street is just large enough for cars to park in front of the tony townhouses that overlook the East River.

They claim that Bank Leumi Trust Co. took possession of their home Wednesday, changed the locks and installed round-the-clock guards, forcing the Liggetts and their poodle, Ferrari, into the Cadillac.

Two guards at the house Friday acknowledged the 24-hour presence.

Taped to a front window is a November 1989 order from state judge Burton S. Sherman giving Bank Leumi the property and ordering the Liggetts out.

The bank has since bought the house for $50,000 at an unadvertised auction where it was the sole bidder - all illegal, according to the Liggetts.

Bank President Richard Kane said, ″Every single allegation they are making now they have made in a series of courts over the last six years. Every time, they have been thrown out. There continues to be no substance to the claims they make.″

The couple’s older son, John, said Liggett made his money from plastics patents used by a company he founded in the late 1950s and then sold for millions of dollars in the late 1970s.

The couple once had Manhattan and Westhampton condominiums and traveled abroad on the Concorde. Next to the Cadillac is a non-working Mercedes, also from 1977.

The couple claims they now have no money because they have been defending themselves for years against what they say are the bank’s fraudulent claims.

They said the bank claims it is owed more than $1 million because they did not repay a $327,000 business loan from 1979. Mrs. Liggett said they never got the loan money and, on top of that, she deposited $327,000 in certificates of deposit as collateral, which the bank has taken.

They also claim that the bank continuously removed money - up to $3.6 million - from their accounts without their permission.

″They locked me out of my house. The only thing I got out of my house is what I have on. All the records I need to fight them are in the house,″ Liggett said.

″I feel very angry, very hurt, very upset,″ said Mrs. Liggett, who is French and, according to her husband, ″50-something.″

The Liggetts said they could stay somewhere else but they wanted the publicity from living in the Cadillac so they could get a good lawyer.

″We have a good case against the bank,″ Mrs. Liggett said. ″Any attorney who works for us would be rewarded handsomely.″

Her husband concurred.

″They blew us away,″ he said. ″Now we will blow them away.″

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