For years, Charles H. Keating Jr. was better known as a champion athlete and anti-pornography activist than he was a financier. But today, he's the poster boy for the brazen greed highlighted by the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s. In 1984, Keating used his Phoenix company American Continental Corp. to buy Lincoln Savings & Loan Assn. in Irvine. Lax investing rules at the time allowed Keating to put federally insured deposits in high-risk ventures -- he even funneled money to a group of senators to keep regulators off his back. He built a luxury hotel in Arizona, complete with seven pools and marble floors, for $300 million. But in 1989, Lincoln failed, losing $3 billion. Thousands of investors, including many elderly Southern California residents, lost $285 million. In the early 1990s, Keating was convicted of a string of fraud, conspiracy and racketeering charges in federal and state courts. He served less than five years in prison before many of his original convictions were overturned and he pleaded guilty to a less extensive collection of fraud charges. He blamed regulators for Lincoln's failure, claiming his own innocence.
Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
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