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Rogue Trader Displays Few Trappings of Wall Street Life

July 9, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ He lives in a brick house on subdivided farmland 160 miles from Wall Street and plows his own driveway when it snows.

Kent A. Ahrens, accused last week of losing $128 million in college-endowment funds through unauthorized trades he hid for three years, hardly appears to be a Wall Street highflier.

Friends and neighbors say Ahrens is a dedicated family man and helpful neighbor. His accusers claim he is a cunning trader who betrayed scores of colleges and universities across the country.

He and his wife, Nancy, an optometrist, bought their house on a half-acre lot in suburban York, Pa., for about $344,000 in 1991, property records show, and moved in with their daughter.

The next year, his company says, Ahrens lost a ``small″ amount of money in a stock transaction he had failed to hedge against investment risk. Instead of reporting it, he tried over the next three years to cover up with more transactions that only magnified the loss, the company claims.

Some neighbors were surprised by the allegations.

``Maybe people make mistakes. I don’t think he did it out of dishonest motivation,″ said Fred Magenheimer, Ahrens’ next-door neighbor, recalling how Ahrens helped cleared the snow off his driveway one year and lent him a snowblower.

Ahrens, 39, was suspended without pay last week from his job as a trader at First Capital Strategists Inc. of York.

His employer said he confessed to risky investments that violated guidelines of the Common Fund, the First Capital client that oversees about $20 billion in endowment money for 1,421 schools, many of which now face lower investment returns due to the big loss.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Pennsylvania Securities Commission are investigating.

So far, Ahrens has refused to comment. Approached on Thursday near the deck of his spacious two-story colonial in suburban York, Ahrens referred questions to his lawyer, who also declined comment.

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