Don R. Dixon, one of the first savings and loan owners to be accused of fraud in the industry’s nationwide debacle, was convicted today of using depositor money to finance a high-flying life.
A jury of eight men and four women deliberated two weeks before convicting Dixon on 23 counts of a 38-count indictment that accused him of using thousands of dollars from Vernon Savings Assn. to finance extravagances that included California beach-house parties.
Dixon, 52, owned Vernon from 1981 to 1986, when it grew tenfold. The thrift’s failure in 1987 cost taxpayers $1.3 billion and was one of the first costly collapses of the savings and loan crisis.
Dixon had been indicted earlier this year for misapplication of funds, making false statements and other crimes. If convicted on all charges, he could have been sentenced to 190 years in jail and fined as much as $9.5 million.
He watched impassively while the verdict was read and embraced his tearful wife after the hearing concluded. U.S. District Judge Joe Fish set sentencing for Feb. 19.
Testimony lasted more than five weeks with about two dozen witnesses, including Dixon.
Some former Vernon employees testified Dixon directed them to reimburse themselves with the thrift’s money for political contributions. Others said he ordered them to hire prostitutes for parties at a beach house near San Diego.