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Proposal Would Eliminate Downpayments On Loans

WASHINGTON-In the latest bid to assist first-time homebuyers, down payments for FHA mortgages for people buying their first homes would be eliminated under legislation proposed last week. Offering FHA mortgages with no down payment will unlock the door to homeownership for hundreds of thousands of American families, particularly minorities," said Rep. Patrick Tiberi, R-Ohio, chief sponsor of the Zero Down Payment Act of 2004. Under the bill families that qualify for zero down payment mortgages would be charged higher mortgage insurance premiums. The initiative follows a bill passed last year providing $400 million to pay for down payments and closing costs for low-income first-time homebuyers.

Stay Issued; Delay In Issuance Of AmEx Cards

NEW YORK-A federal appeals court issued a stay last week temporarily keeping Visa's and MasterCard's exclusionary rules in place while the two companies appeal an earlier ruling finding the clauses illegal to the Supreme Court. The stay came two days after MBNA Corp. and American Express Co. announced a deal under which it will issue cobranded AmEx cards. Both the U.S. District Court and the Appeals Court ruled earlier that Visa's and MasterCards exclusionary clauses violate federal antitrust statutes.

Man Set To Rob CU Also Charged In Murders

MIAMI BEACH-A heavily armed assailant, arrested as he was about to rob Mt. Sinai FCU last week confessed to last July's double slaying in nearby Coral Gables. Jose Barco, 33, was waiting in his car outside the credit union as an armored Loomis Fargo truck pulled up with $150,000 to replenish the credit union's cash.

But police staking out the scene arrested Barco as he began walking towards the credit union. They found him carrying two semi-automatic handguns, one of which was used in last summer's murder of Dr. Paul Jarrett and his son, Greg Jarrett, during an armed robbery at their Coral Gables home, and one of which belonged to Dr. Jarrett. An accomplice in the attempted robbery is still at large.

Man Doesn't Enter, Does Win

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa.-A local man was shocked when he received a phone call telling him he was the winner of the Citadel VI Shopping Spree, $1,000 in gift certificates to the local Exton Square Mall-because he hadn't even entered the contest. That's because Patrick Benzing, 22, didn't know that his brother entered him and all of his family members separately in the grand prize drawing sponsored by Citadel FCU and the mall. Since receiving the certificates, Benzing has purchased a new skateboard, some clothes and a few CDs. He also gave a few certificates to his brother and mother, and exchanged a few for cash with the credit union.

Robbers Nabbed Immediately

CHESTER, Va.-Two masked robbers were arrested last week minutes after holding up Peoples Advantage FCU here. The robbers hit the credit union around 10:30 a.m., grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash, then fled in a gray truck, but were quickly spotted by a concerned citizen as they attempted to switch getaway cars.

The robbers then fled on foot after being stopped by police a few blocks away, but were captured moments later. The entire get-away lasted about three minutes, police said.

The robbers were identified as Wilbert Bellamy Jr., 41, of Chesterfield, and George Leeper, 35, of Richmond., who are suspected in a string of other area robberies.

Pentagon FCU Hits $6 Billion

ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Pentagon FCU joined exclusive company at year-end 2003-joining the $6-billion club. Pentagon, which grew at 15% last year, is only the third credit union to hit the milestone, joining Navy FCU and State Employees CU of North Carolina. The nation's third-largest credit union now claims 550,000 members worldwide.

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