Ramona S & L Group Sued by FSLIC for $35 Million

Staff Writer

The former owner, accountant and several officers and employees of Ramona Savings & Loan Assn. in Orange have been accused of accepting illegal dividends, breaching their fiduciary duties and submitting false financial statements to the government. The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court here by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp.

State and federal regulators placed the troubled institution in receivership last Friday. Ramona, which had $108.1 million in assets when it was declared insolvent, was the third Orange County-based S&L; to fail this year. It reopened Monday with its deposits still covered up to $100,000 per account by FSLIC.

In its lawsuit, FSLIC is seeking at least $35 million in damages from Ramona's former management team.

The suit alleges that John L. Molinaro, Ramona's sole owner and chairman, and Donald P. Mangano Sr., a former director, paid $3.9 million for the S&L;'s stock, but "in two years, without any additional capital contribution, caused Ramona to pay $4.85 million to them in dividends."

The suit also alleges that the payment of dividends in April and May, 1985, eventually led to the insolvency of the S&L.;

Funds Not Repaid

In August, the California Department of Savings and Loan filed suit against Molinaro seeking the return of his $2-million share of the dividend, but so far he has failed to repay the funds, according to documents filed in federal court.

The suit also alleges that Mike Sage, a Tustin accountant, filed "inaccurate certified and audited financial statements" which enabled Ramona to "incur further losses to the detriment of Ramona and its depositors."

Various loan transactions were disguised by "false and materially misleading financial statements" filed with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the California Department of Savings and Loan, the suit said.

Under Molinaro's leadership, Ramona allegedly made "illusory" real estate loans to friends and companies he controlled. Ramona allegedly provided 100% of the financing to buyers of various real estate projects for the "purpose of boosting the apparent profits of Ramona," the suit said. In one deal to build a convention center, "the buyers paid no money, assumed no responsibility or risk on the project and exercised no control over it," the suit said. Instead of earning a $6.9-million profit on the deal, the suit said, Ramona earned nothing.

A spokeswoman for Ramona said she had no way to reach Molinaro and had not heard from any members of the deposed management team. There is no telephone number listed for Sage or his firm.

The suit also names Donald W. Stump as a defendant for allegedly breaching his fiduciary duties to the S&L.; Stump served either as a consultant or as president of Ramona between December, 1985, and July, 1986. At one point, Molinaro tried to sell Ramona to Stump, but the proposal was rejected by the state agency.

Stump resigned as Ramona's president on July 3, 1986, after the Department of Savings and Loan objected to his appointment. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. issued a cease and desist order against Stump in August, 1980, to remove him from lending authority while he was president of American State Bank, according to court records.

Also named as defendants were Geraldine Balogh, who allegedly handled several real estate transactions for Ramona, and directors Frank Provost and Bill Heaton. None of the defendants could be reached for comment.

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