Top Aide Gives Jury Glimpse of High-Living Keating in Prosecution Testimony
E. SCOTT RECKARD
Nov. 05, 1992
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A former top aide to Charles Keating Jr. today gave a federal jury a peek into the luxurious way in which the former Lincoln Savings owner mixed business and pleasure.
In a second day of testimony at Keating's federal fraud and racketeering trial, Judy J. Wischer testified that corporate documents showed Keating's American Continental Corp. had $80,000 worth of office equipment.
However, she explained, the company had $9.6 million worth of corporate jets, a $1.3 million airport hangar, and office furniture and fixtures worth $1.9 million.
Mrs. Wischer, former president of Keating's American Continental Corp., is the prosecution's star witness. She pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government in hopes of a light sentence. Mrs. Wischer also testified today about a multimillion-dollar luxury home the company purchased in Indian Creek, a wealthy area of Miami Beach.
Part of the house contained office equipment and it was known within the company as the Indian Creek office. However, Mrs. Wischer said most of the house was for Keating's personal use and no one other than him used it for business.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alice Hill questioned Mrs. Wischer about the house to demonstrate the prosecution's contention that Keating used Lincoln's federally insured deposits to finance a royal lifestyle.
On Wednesday, Mrs. Wischer testified that she and Keating lied when auditors asked if any facts about the company's 1986 activities had been withheld from the accountants.
She said Keating concealed inducements that were given people to buy property from Keating companies, including land gifts, loans to cover down payments and guarantees against losses.
The auditors approved rosy financial reports in 1986, 1987 and 1988 that helped persuade Lincoln depositors to buy uninsured bonds from American Continental, the thrift's Phoenix-based parent, Mrs. Wischer said.
Lincoln's collapse in April 1989 was the nation's costliest thrift failure. at $2.6 billion. American Continental sought bankruptcy protection, rendering the bonds worthless and costing investors $220 million.
Prosecutors contend that Keating ran his companies to ruin and continued to bleed them as bankruptcy became inevitable, all to continue funding huge salaries, vacation homes and European trips on private jets for his family.
The defense contends that Keating is the victim of a soured Arizona real estate market, tightening thrift regulation and vindictive regulators.
Keating faces 73 federal counts with a maximum sentence of 525 years. His son, Charles Keating III, faces 64 counts and 475 years.
He was convicted in state court last December of defrauding investors and sentenced to 10 years in prison.