Townstone Financial, Inc. and Barry Sturner
On July 15, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the Northern District of Illinois against Townstone Financial, Inc., a nonbank retail-mortgage creditor and broker based in Chicago. The Bureau alleges that Townstone violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA); its implementing regulation, Regulation B; and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). For years, Townstone drew almost no applications for properties in majority-African-American neighborhoods located in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin Metropolitan Statistical Area (Chicago MSA) and few applications from African Americans throughout the Chicago MSA. The Bureau alleges that Townstone engaged in discriminatory acts or practices, including making statements during its weekly radio shows and podcasts through which it marketed its services, that discouraged prospective African-American applicants from applying for mortgage loans; discouraged prospective applicants living in African-American neighborhoods in the Chicago MSA from applying for mortgage loans; and discouraged prospective applicants living in other areas from applying for mortgage loans for properties located in African-American neighborhoods in the Chicago MSA. On November 25, 2020, the Bureau filed an amended complaint, which added as a defendant Barry Sturner, Townstone’s cofounder, sole owner, and sole director, as the fraudulent transferee of more than $2.4 million from Townstone. The Bureau’s amended complaint seeks an injunction against Townstone, as well as damages, redress to consumers, the imposition of a civil money penalty, and other relief.