Crown Switches Spokesmen

As Crown Bancorp prepares for what could be a bitter battle for corporate control, it has signed up a new public relations agency. Fledgling Cotton-Morrow Communications will now handle PR and advertising for Crown and its two subsidiaries, the Bank of Coronado and Capital Bank of Carlsbad.

It's something of a shuffle: The Stoorza Co. handled Crown through the spring, until officials fashioned a cost-cutting plan and gave the agency its leave. But when Crown President James Klingensmith abruptly resigned two weeks ago, Stoorza was hired to handle the departure announcement. That led to speculation that the agency would again handle Crown, especially in light of the expected proxy battle.

But there's some provincial logic to the Cotton-Morrow hire. Principal Tom Morrow was vice president of communications at the Hotel del Coronado, Crown's island colleague.

Stoorza gained a new account from all this, too. It now handles World Communications Inc., the Carlsbad-based mail order firm that markets record albums and the controversial Grapefruit 45 diet plan, which is under fire from U.S. Postal Service authorities.

The connection there? New WCI Executive Vice President Edward E. Schmidt is the former president of Capital Bank of Carlsbad.

. . . And Makes a Sale

Speaking of Crown Bancorp, its largest subsidiary, the Bank of Coronado, has received a $495,000 offer on a house in Laguna that went into default after Chairman Dustin Rose had personally guaranteed the loan. Rose previously paid the bank $105,000 to settle the guarantee, and a sale--the deal has yet to enter escrow, so it's far from final--could mean that the bank receives a total of $600,000 for the house.

Rose had guaranteed the loan for one of his law firm's clients--a California corporation owned by a Saudi Arabian. When the price of oil dropped, the client defaulted on the loan.

Firm Goes, Exec Doesn't

Speaking of changes at public relations shops, Cella & Co. and Grubb & Ellis Commercial Brokerage parted company after a 3 1/2-year association. Also leaving Cella & Co. is Sandra Grove, the agency's vice president and account executive for three years.

So where did Grove go? To Grubb & Ellis, where she will handle the real estate's firm public relations.

Guarded Secrets

One fact was kept from the jury that heard the income tax refund scheme trial of Jerry and Eleanor Sonido last week: Jurors were unaware that the couple was in federal custody.

Not that it made any difference, because he was convicted on 17 counts of conspiracy and failing to file income tax refunds while she was convicted of conspiracy.

But jurors did get suspicious. One said after the trial, "We thought it was suspicious that they wore the same clothes for a week."

Fees Are Fabulous Too

When Watson General Corp. President Charles Watson said he wanted to make a $4 per share, 1-million-share tender offer for the stock of Fabulous Inns last week, he said he wanted to stop the flood of legal fees being paid by both sides in the yearlong corporate power battle.

Watson had reason to be concerned. According to sources familiar with the corporate tug-of-war, each side has rung up more than $600,000 in legal fees.

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