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Bank to honor loan after wife's death holds up check

The Garden City Park bank that held up a check to an elderly Baldwin widower said Wednesday that it will honor its agreement to give the man a loan.

George Baumann, 84, took out a loan on May 7 with his wife. Five days later his wife, Florence, died. The bank then told him that it would not fund the loan, Baumann's lawyer said.

Without the $271,000 loan, said Baumann's lawyer, Steven Barrison of Manhattan, Baumann would have had to sell his home.

Hanover Community Bank said it's all a misunderstanding that will soon be remedied.

Acting bank president and chief executive Sangeeta Kishore said the loan was held up due to confusion over whether Florence Baumann had died before the agreement was finalized.

"We have determined that the bank will fund the loan, and we have already contacted the borrower and his attorney," she said.

Barrison said the loan would save Baumann more than $1,800 in expenses each month.

"The bank's damaging behavior to Mr. Baumann must be remedied, and they must make him whole," Barrison said at a news conference in front of the Baldwin home where his client has lived for more than 50 years. Baumann was joined by his daughter Diane and her two children.

Bank officials said the loan was a traditional refinancing. It would not provide a date when the loan check would be issued.

Baumann said he plans to use the loan money to pay down his existing mortgage and credit card debts he accrued when he was helping his children through rough financial times. He retired in 1986 from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and said he lives off his pension and Social Security.

While Barrison considered possible legal action over the delay, Baumann said he doesn't want to sue, he just wants the bank to honor its commitment.

"A deal is a deal," he said. "That's all I want."

With John Valenti and Sophia Chang

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