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Deposit oversight left property owner facing huge debt with sheriff's office

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BATON ROUGE - Fines have been piling up fast for one woman who says a $12,000 bank mistake is responsible for her property tax problems.

Tired of fighting the issue, she called 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss to help her arrive at a conclusion. By the end of the day Thursday, her issue was resolved.

It all began in April 2017, when Paula Murray went to her bank to deposit a $12,000 check. Murray has been banking with Neighbors Federal Credit Union for about 25 years and has never had a problem. Until last year, when she wrote in April for $2,100 to pay her property taxes. Murray and her husband own 14 properties in East Baton Rouge Parish. Her check bounced, which would have been fine had Murray known, but she says she didn't.

"I was not made aware that the check didn't clear," she said.

Murray learned the bank had deposited her $12,000 check into the wrong bank account.

"I was trying to get some money but no money was in there," she said.

The bank corrected the mistake, but Murray says she forgot about the check she wrote to pay her property taxes. Her taxes went unpaid for months. She didn't find out until she signed for a certified letter from the Sheriff's Office in October 2017. All that time went by and Murray says she had no idea the taxes weren't paid. The late fees, interest, deed preparation, and redemption fees quickly added up to more than $11,000.

The taxes on one of Murray's properties started at $274 and increased to $1,310. It's a price tag she can't afford to pay.

Murray has been back and forth with the Sheriff's Office and Neighbors Federal Credit Union. Fed up, she called 2 On Your Side.

"I want the bank to stand up to the mistake that they made," she said.

WBRZ first started looking into Murray's dilemma on Wednesday. Thursday afternoon, Neighbors Federal Credit Union confirmed it had been investigating the matter and said it was able to work out the issues with the customer to her satisfaction.

Murray told 2 On Your Side's Brittany Weiss the sheriff's office reduced her fines by a couple thousand dollars and confirms Neighbors Federal Credit Union took care of her debt. It cut her a cashier's check Thursday to cover the cost of her fines.

She tells WBRZ she plans to visit the sheriff's office Friday morning to hand over the cashier's check and settle her bill with the parish.

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