Short Take: Chase Bank Apologizes For Its $169,876 “Inconvenience”

After 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Darryl Fulton suffered far more “inconvenience” than any person should ever have to endure. But he had yet to deal with Chase.

“I’m just trying to deposit my check,” Fulton said. “I just wanted to be treated like anyone else.”

[Fulton’s lawyer] Kathleen Zellner criticized Chase for not allowing Fulton to deposit a $169,876 check from the state at its bank branch on 79th Street and Cicero Avenue, questioning whether racism played a part. The first time Fulton tried to deposit the money, Zellner said, the bank said she would have to endorse the check because her firm’s name was under his, though Fulton’s name was on the “pay to the order of” line.

Lest there be any confusion, the firm’s name was printed in the portion of the check reflecting where it was mailed, nothing more. It’s almost as if Chase has never seen a mailed check before.

The second time, Zellner said, Chase contended Fulton signed above her name and the check would need to be deposited in her account. Zellner got on the phone with the bank but employees wouldn’t deposit it, she said.

Why would a bank give a person making a deposit such grief? Well, because they can is always an easy answer, but the more nefarious reason is that a black guy with a huge check to be deposited emits the scent of potential fraud, a possible loss for the bank if there was a subsequent problem with the check and the funds were withdrawn.

After all, why would this guy possibly have a check in that large a sum?

Fulton, released from prison in November, has been working at a factory in the near western suburbs.

Fulton spent 23 years behind bars for the 1994 slaying of Antwinica Bridgeman, who disappeared after her 20th birthday party in Englewood.

Fulton confessed, though he claimed the confession was coerced. Back then, nobody believed such claims, but then came DNA.

Fulton and Coleman were sentenced to life in prison for the murder, but recently discovered DNA evidence matched a serial rapist. Prosecutors dropped charges against the men last winter, and in March a Cook County judge awarded the men certificates of innocence. Each man has a civil rights lawsuit pending against the city of Chicago.

Their release only took 23 years. It’s unclear whether the state ever apologized for the inconvenience. But Chase did, after it was outed.

In a statement, Chase said it “should have accepted (Fulton’s) check during his initial visit.” The bank did not specifically address whether Fulton’s race was a factor.

“We did offer to deposit the check on his return visit and have reached out to him to clear up any confusion,” the bank said. “We regret the error and apologize for the inconvenience.”

There was no “confusion” to clear up. They refused to accept a deposit to cover their own sorry butts for fear some black guy was pulling a scam on them with his big money check. Chase didn’t get to be a huge bank by taking fraud losses, and they weren’t about to take a hit from Fulton’s deposit this time.

But is it “inconvenience” for Fulton, after spending 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, to have to suffer the indignity of a bank teller refusing to deposit his check? For Chase, that’s the best it can muster.

20 thoughts on “Short Take: Chase Bank Apologizes For Its $169,876 “Inconvenience”

  1. B. McLeod

    Dealing with banks today is like dealing with airlines. Sometimes I have to call half a dozen of them to find one that will handle a transaction with rational conditions. Often, a bank where I am depositing a large check will call the issuing bank to verify the item. Here, Chase probably couldn’t do that, because it was a state-issued check. He was lucky they didn’t just go for the ultimate pig-headed idiocy and demand a medallion signature guaranty on his endorsement.

  2. BottledJuice

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by policy.”
    – Someone somehere

  3. Nobody of Import

    Don’t forget Reg CC. State issued check. NO room for checking, etc.- MUST be same day availability since they’re IN state and have to do it. Per the guidelines for Reg CC:

    “State or local government checks deposited in person to one of your employees and into an account held by a payee of the check, if your institution is in the same state as the payor of the check. (Note: If the customer desires next-day availability of funds from these checks, you may require use of a special deposit slip.)”

    Ooops. Chase, you’re lucky he’s not siccing the Government on you for this violation. Seriously.

    1. SHG Post author

      If only a banking lawyer whispered in his lawyer’s ear. She probably doesn’t know this any more than I do.

    2. B. McLeod

      CC was promulgated under the Expedited Funds Availability Act. It would require the bank to provide same day funds availability if it accepted the check. I don’t believe Regulation CC requires banks to accept all state checks submitted for deposit.

    1. Casual Lurker

      “I have only the fondest memories of UCC Articles 3 and 4.”

      May the Force Majeure be with you!

      (On occasion, even us non-lawyers are obliged to deal with the dreaded Uniform Commercial Code!)

  4. Michael C Taglieri

    This isn’t necessarily racism — Chase apparently does similar things as a precaution with every large check. I’ve been a Chase customer for years, and am a white, middle-aged attorney. I normally have direct-deposit of pay checks and seldom keep more than $5000 or so in my Chase account.

    But in 2016, I deposited a check for $140,000 (the payback of a loan I had made to my sister). Chase accepted the check, but I then got a letter in the mail saying that because of the unusual amount, the money would not be available to me for a week or two.

    So it’s possible they do this with everybody who deposits a check larger than their usual amount.

  5. Liam McDonald

    Surprised Chase didn’t call the Police so they could shoot him in self-defence. He was probably holding a pen

  6. Casual Lurker

    This isn’t Chase’s first go-round with this type of incident.

    In 2011 it had Ikenna Njoku improperly arrested for trying to cash a tax refund check for less than $9K, issued from a Chase account. He spent several days in jail because Chase couldn’t be bothered to expend any effort to fix its own mistake.

    SHG covered this in a post titled “A Series of Unfortunate Events“.

      1. Casual Lurker

        *All* banks behave badly, but in different ways. For instance, BoA prefers to create phony customer accounts and fraudulently bill for them, gets fined, apologizes, gets a slap on the wrist, and after a few refunds still comes out net in the plus column, with the bad publicity barely denting its image among customers.

        Chase, on the other hand, has chosen a different path. One that awakens the hornets nest of ‘woke’ SJWs., but does not add to the bottom line. They need to get a new head of PR. In the modern world, damage control consisting of liability limiting statements is insufficient. Jamie Dimon needs to have a chat with Howard Schultz about a proper turd management strategy.

        1. SHG Post author

          I was once invited to a lunch with the then-Chair of Citibank, John Reed. My branch manager brought me as his “favorite” customer. When asked what I like most about Citibank, I told Reed the guy sitting next to me. When asked what I liked least, I told him “everything else; Citibank sucks,” and then went on to provide a list of failings.

          A week later, my branch manager was unceremoniously sent to run a branch in a foreign country where commerce had yet to arrive.

          1. B. McLeod

            “Van Diemen’s land,
            Is a hell for a man,
            To live out his life in slavery,
            Where the climate is raw,
            And the gun makes the law,
            Neither wind nor rain care for bravery. . .”

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