Warner Innocent on Federal Charges
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Marvin Warner was found innocent Friday of all federal charges stemming from a savings and loan collapse in 1985 that triggered a statewide financial crisis in Ohio.
The former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland was acquitted of all charges in an 18-count indictment resulting from business dealings between Warner’s Home State Savings Bank and a Florida securities firm.
Warner’s wife and daughters wept as the verdict was read by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Joiner, and then Warner hugged jury foreman Kenneth Sturdevant Jr.
″I want you to know you gave me my life back,″ Warner told him.
Sturdevant said jurors ″pretty much experienced the same thoughts, feelings that Mr. Warner was a victim.″
Warner, 68, was charged with one count of conspiracy, 15 counts of wire fraud and two counts of interstate movement of fradulently obtained funds. The maximum combined penalty on those counts was 90 years in prison.
He was previously sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on state charges and ordered to pay $22 million restitution.
The indictment accused Warner of obtaining fradulently generated money from ESM Government Securities Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A former Home State president, Burton Bongard, was to have gone on trial with Warner. However, Bongard agreed to plead guilty to four counts of his 16- count indictment and cooperate with the government. He testified for the prosecution.
The government contended Warner and Bongard schemed with officials of ESM to supply millions of dollars in Home State’s assets to ESM to conceal losses by the investment company.
In exchange, ESM allegedly gave Home State, as well as Warner and Bongard, favorable interest rates on loans and guaranteed profits on securities trades, according to the indictment.
Warner, the final witness in the seven-week trial, said he knew nothing of ESM’s financial troubles until about six weeks before the Securities and Exchange Commission declared ESM insolvent and closed it on March 4, 1985.
News of the closing touched off depositor runs on Home State, which had millions invested with ESM and at the time was Ohio’s largest privately insured savings and loan. Home State closed March 8, prompting a panic in the Ohio savings and loan industry and forcing Gov. Richard Celeste to temporarily close 69 other privately insured thrifts until they obtained deposit insurance.
Home State was later sold and its depositors protected as part of legislation enacted by the General Assembly.
In March, Bongard, Warner and former Home State President David Schiebel were convicted of state charges in the Home State case.
Warner was convicted on six counts of unauthorized acts and three securities violations.
Bongard was convicted on 41 counts of willful misapplication of funds and 41 companion counts of unauthorized acts.
Warner and Bongard have asked for new trials, alleging prejudice involving a juror.
Schiebel was convicted of three securities violations and sentenced to six months in prison and $25,000 restitution. He, too, has appealed.