NAPLES — As president of Orion Bank, Jerry J. Williams had built a small Keys bank into Florida’s second-largest private bank when it all came crashing down this month.
On Nov. 9, the FDIC ordered Williams’ ouster, saying the bank would be financially healthier without its chief executive officer and board chairman.
A federal order accused him of making $60 million in bogus loans and lying about $15 million in capital that the bank raised through straw borrowers with questionable credit.
Three days later, the feds shut down Orion and Louisiana-based IberiaBank took over.
Williams’ demise came on Friday the 13th, a day when Orion became the nation’s 122nd FDIC-insured bank to close this year — the 11th in Florida.
Only a month earlier, Naples’ Partners Bank became the 100th bank failure. Not since 1992 had 100 banks failed in one year.
On that same day, when seven shut down, state regulators shuttered Hillcrest Bank Florida in Naples and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) sold its deposits to Stonegate Bank. In February, Cape Coral-based Riverside Bank was shut down and was taken over days later by TIB.
From Enron to banks to Wall Street, public outrage over executive compensation packages followed the demise of the various companies.
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Williams, who was Orion’s chairman and CEO, is among several local bankers who lost jobs this year after banks failed.
“When a bank fails, there is an investigation into why the bank failed,” FDIC spokesman Greg Hernandez said. “If (an) act is deemed to be part of the failure, it’s referred to the Department of Justice.”
A bank failure also often results in a Material Loss Review, which is triggered when the failure costs the Federal Insurance Deposit fund $25 million or more.
Orion’s failure is estimated to have cost the fund $615 million.
Whether his ouster is the end for Williams, a popular Naples banker, or just the beginning of a possible civil action or prosecution isn’t known.
Regardless, it’s a far cry from the accolades Williams earned only a few years before. The Florida Bankers Association named him its Banker of the Year for 2005-06, and The American Banker newspaper named him “Community Banker of the Year” in 2006.
Williams, Orion’s largest stockholder, couldn’t be reached for comment despite repeated attempts during the past three weeks by phone and at his home at a gated community in Naples. The phones at a luxury home he owns in the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina have been disconnected at his request.
Naples attorney Kenneth R. Johnson, the registered agent for Williams’ numerous limited liability corporations, also couldn’t be reached for comment.
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So how well off were Williams and executives of other banks that failed in Southwest Florida?
The salaries of Williams and other executives of local failed banks aren’t available through federal records, but their properties are public record.
The Daily News tracked their holdings through local appraiser and clerks’ offices, state incorporation papers, and other documents and sources.
■ Williams, 49, Orion’s former CEO and board chairman, lives with his wife of 10 years, Heather Lyn, 39, in a $4.1 million home on Canna Way in Grey Oaks, a luxury gated community in Naples.
The couple also own a $3.35 million home in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Six Mile, S.C., at The Residences at Keowee Springs Lodge and Spa, which is billed as the nation’s first luxury family wellness development.
It’s located in a 2,600-acre gated community on Lake Keowee.
Pickens County land records show they purchased the home in April 2008 using a $2 million loan from JP Morgan Chase Bank.
Before the Williamses moved to Grey Oaks, they sold their home on Gordon Drive in Aqualane Shores in Naples to Dave Wannstedt, a former coach of the Miami Dolphins and head football coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Wannstedt, an Orion minority shareholder and close friend of Williams, purchased it for $2 million with his wife, Janet, with a $1.5 million loan from Orion they paid off in May.
Williams also owns dozens of businesses. Among them is Handsome Harry’s Third Street Bistro in Naples, which he founded in November 2005 under the name Ww Handsome Harry’s of Naples LLC.
The majority of the limited liability companies he incorporated with other bank officers, including Carla Pollard, the vice president and chief financial officer, were companies set up for the sole purpose of selling foreclosed-on mortgages and were dissolved once a property was sold.
It’s a concept being tested by the FDIC as part of a pilot program.
In addition to Orion Bancorp Inc., the three dozen corporations filed under Williams’ name include: Ww Capital Group, Laguna Vista LLC, OB Sunrise LLC, OB Naples Inc., OB Marathon and OB Marco Isle. All list officers of Orion Bank and the bank’s address. And others, including Tamiami Pilot Services, FB Air Holdings and Fruitville Acquisition LLC, have been dissolved.
■ Pollard, 44, who was listed as vice president and chief financial officer, is a CPA who lives on Lakemont Drive in Pelican Landing in Bonita Springs, a home she purchased for $775,000 in July 2006 using a $620,000 Orion Bank loan. She sold her home on Puma Trail in Estero’s Wildcat Run for $815,000.
She owns a 2004 Mercedes Benz SL 500 sports car, a 2005 Lincoln Navigator SUV, and a 26-foot SeaRay pleasure boat.
Pollard is listed as a manager of the many limited liability corporations that Williams set up for the bank’s bad debt.
■ Robert Sudbrook, 67, who was president and CEO of Partners Bank, lives with his wife, Connie, in a gated community in North Naples. They purchased the home on Phoenix Way in Longshore Lake for $565,000 in 2003. They also own a condominium in Trafalgar Square in Berkshire Village that they purchased for $259,000 in October 2005.
A 2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, a 2002 Infiniti Q45 luxury car, and a red 1985 Mercedes 280 SL collectible sports car are listed at their address, but the registrations recently expired.
■ Heather M. Leslie, 36, who was listed as the bank’s chief financial officer, lives on Beach Resort Drive in Falling Waters Beach Resort, a condo she purchased for $232,500 in July 2004. She also owns a $22,200 home in Shenango Township, Pa., and drives a 2004 Ford Escape Ltd.
Riverside Bank of the Gulf Coast
■ Randy E. Graber, 41, the bank’s CEO and chief financial officer whom the FDIC retained for now, lives with his wife, Jodi, in a three-bedroom ranch on 13th Southwest Lane in Cape Coral, a home they purchased for $187,500 in 2003. He owns a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder; also, a 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac and a 2005 Seqouia Unlimited are listed under both their names.
■ John D. Moran, 46, the CEO until 2008, sold his home on 31st Street in Cape Coral’s Caloosahatchee neighborhood for $390,000 in October 2008, four months after his ouster. That deed now lists the address for Moran and his wife, Trena, at Heritage Palms Estates Drive in Heritage Palms Country Club in Fort Myers, a $649,000 home that’s still under another couple’s name.
The couple has a 2005 GMC Envoy XL SUV and Trena Moran also drives a 2006 Pontiac Vibe. They also have a 30-foot pleasure boat registered at their country club address.
Moran was CEO for eight years until the board of directors asked him to resign last year after the bank lost $7.58 million the first quarter of 2008.
He wasn’t without a job for long. Two months after he stepped down, news reports show, he was named executive vice president and director of capital acquisition at a Fort Myers-based investment fund company, CPA Financial Connections, CPA Directed Investments and CPA Capital Fund. He also operates Prosperity Marketing Co., a company started in November 2008, which is listed at his country club address.
Hillcrest Bank Florida
■ Pablo X. Veintimilla, 45, president, lives with his wife, Marielena, in a home on Coldstream Court in Briarwood in East Naples, which they purchased in 1993 for $121,500. They own several cars, including a red luxury Mazda CLK 500 coupe, a Pontiac Sunfire SE sportscar, and a Mazda CX9.
■ Jack N. Fingersh, 78, CEO and director, lives in a $2.1 million penthouse on Bay Colony Drive in Pelican Bay that the Jack Fingersh Trust purchased in 1994 for $1.2 million. He and his wife, Pella, purchased a second penthouse there for $5.57 million in 2006 and both properties are listed at the same address. This June, the couple took out a $4.9 million home equity line of credit from Bank of America.
They own a Lexus SC 430 Sportscar and a Lexus GS 300 Sedan.
Fingersh is CEO and director of Hillcrest Bank Florida and Hillcrest Florida Holdings Inc. He’s the chairman of Hillcrest Bancshares Inc., the Kansas-based bank’s owner, and is a retired partner of Kansas City-based law firm Lewis Rice & Fingersh LC.