Keating Too Broke to Make Bail; 'Where'd the Money Go?' Asks Prosecutor
E. SCOTT RECKARD
Dec. 22, 1991
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ ''Where did all the money go?'' prosecutor Alice Hill repeatedly asked judges setting bail for Charles H. Keating Jr. The answer is still being unraveled.
The fallen financier's Lincoln Savings and Loan lost $2.6 billion, regulators say. Millions more were gobbled up in personal finances. And last week, he was too broke to make $300,000 in bail.
Civil lawsuits, citing public disclosures by Keating's companies, say he paid himself and his family $38.8 million from 1984 to 1989, counting stock sales. Yet now, Keating, his son and his top aide together have a negative net worth of more than $7.5 million.
Keating, his family and close associates lost millions re-investing in his collapsed companies, which they contend were driven to insolvency by government officials he delighted in criticizing.
But it also appears Keating never lost the expensive tastes acquired in better days, even after regulators seized Lincoln, and its parent, American Continental Corp., collapsed in April 1989.
While the corporation owned Lincoln from 1984 to 1989, Keating received $19,457,522 from it, court documents show. That included money he made selling ACC stock back to the company and its employee stock ownership plan, plus a $8,243,072 salary.
When Keating, 68, asked a judge to lower his bail on racketeering, conspiracy and fraud charges, he estimated his net worth at a negative $5,565,225. Negative net worth is the amount by which liabilities exceed assets.
Keating and his son, Charles Keating III, remained jailed this weekend, unable to meet a combined $450,000 bond. His bail was reduced last week from $2 million, and his son's bail was halved to $150,000.
Another bail reduction hearing was set for Monday.
To show Keating may be hiding assets, Ms. Hill cited $427,000 he received this year from a son-in-law.
Keating also paid $6,265 for lodging, food and a bar tab at the Los Angeles luxury hotel Checkers Aug. 12-Oct. 17 while battling state fraud charges, Ms. Hill said.
Defense lawyer Stephen C. Neal said Checkers gave Keating a bargain rate.
U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer reduced bail when Ms. Hill produced no evidence of significant stashed assets.
Former ACC President Judy J. Wischer spent a week in jail before she was freed on $300,000 bail. She declared herself insolvent by $19,490; her debts include a $338,540 bill from Abbe David Lowell, the colorful lawyer Cable News Network hired to comment on the William Kennedy Smith trial.
Charles Keating III and Mrs. Wischer received $4,263,526 and $3,745,899, respectively, from Keating's companies from 1984 through 1989, according to court documents.
When the younger Keating asked for lower bail, he listed assets of less than $14,000 in his new business - selling trees to nurseries; a monthly salary of $1,000 from that; a Jeep worth $3,000; $1,500 in personal property; and $200 cash.
He said he lost $90,000 in a futures investment that bombed and far more in now-worthless ACC stock and bonds. His Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing listed debts of more than $2 million.
Neal declined to give details, but said much of the elder Keating's assets went to pay personal debts and taxes and into ACC securities and other now- worthless investments.
Keating gave heavily to charity. Then there were huge political gifts, including $1.3 million to the ''Keating Five'' senators.
ACC spent $31 million on its private airplane fleet in 1984-1988, according to a report in a bondholders' lawsuit by accountants Neilson, Elggren, Durkin & Co.
The report, characterizing ACC as a ''money-eating machine,'' noted the company brought baby sitters on many foreign jaunts.
It said that the Keatings and ACC executives visited Europe 15 times, Mexico three times, and Africa, Asia and Hawaii once. Executives also traveled often to Keating's Bahamas vacation home and to a Florida mansion ACC built and furnished for nearly $5 million.
In his court filing, Keating valued his personal belongings at just $100,000.
''The fact is, he doesn't have a bunch of fancy cars at all,'' Neal said. ''So you're really talking about household furnishings and clothing.''