Two former state thrift regulators who tried to save faltering Guardian Savings & Loan were forced quietly this week by federal regulators to resign from the thrift.
William J. Crawford and William D. Davis said Friday that the federal agency running the S&L; asked them to resign Tuesday. They said they didn't know why they were forced out.
Officials at the Resolution Trust Corp., which manages and liquidates failed thrifts, were unavailable for comment.
"They're probably just going to downsize the institution and wind the thing up, and they don't need two bosses," said Crawford, who was chairman, president and chief executive but reported to an RTC managing agent.
"It was rather a sudden decision that apparently came from (RTC regional headquarters in) Denver," said Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We were sort of intent on seeing this thing through."
The action came a month after word leaked that Crawford had tried to interest regulators in a plan to turn the Huntington Beach thrift into an employee-owned, minority-controlled institution. But regulators wanted a $25-million investment up front, and Crawford couldn't find that much.
Crawford and Davis were known as tough regulators when they headed the state Department of Savings and Loan through the second half of the 1980s.
They were installed at Guardian this year after the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision ousted the thrift's owner, Russell M. Jedinak. They had expected to turn Guardian around in two years, and OTS had approved their plan to recapitalize the company.
Crawford and Davis were surprised when the agency seized the institution June 21 and turned it over to the RTC to manage under conservatorship.
Crawford, 71, who was commissioner of the state Department of Corporations from March, 1985, to May, 1989, said he doesn't want to retire and may try to work again for the RTC. Before taking the reins at Guardian on Feb. 1, he had managed failed thrifts for the RTC.
Davis, 54, who was Crawford's deputy and took over for a year as commissioner until joining Guardian on May 1, said he's not sure where he'll land. "I'll have to hit the streets," he said.