Archive for Saturday, January 18, 1992

BIG FISH, NO HOOKS

January 18, 1992

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It's bad enough that people like Charles Keating Jr. rip off so many millions of dollars from trusting, unsuspecting people. It's even worse that they are so brazen and arrogant about their feats and show little or no remorse over crimes they have committed. Further, they abrasively continue on their merry way as if they are being put upon to answer for their actions.

Such people are a cut even below armed robbers. At least the bank robber with a gun in his hand is direct in approach, and people know how to regard him. The deceptive financier who reels in people believing him to be honest and above board and then violates that trust with crooked and fraudulent deportment is far worse because of the secretive method of theft that relies on public confidence.

Keating may be in a class by himself among a modern hoard of nefarious wheeler-dealers.

Keating may have received more than half of $975,000 stolen from his former company just before it filed for bankruptcy protection, a new federal indictment against the financier alleges. Federal fraud and conspiracy indictment occurred in Phoenix on Wednesday against the 68-year-old Keating, who was chairman of American Continental Corp. before its Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed at a cost of $2.6 billion (that's billion) to American taxpayers.

Keating has been convicted on California securities fraud charges. Allegedly he faces 10 years in prison at sentencing.

Yet why isn't more of an effort being made to get back at least some of the money Keating pilfered? Difficult, you say? Well, how about tapping his checking accounts for starters?

On Tuesday of this week, the day before Keating, free on bail, was hit with the latest indictment, he went shopping at a spiffy Phoenix area home supply shop. He bought $2,000 worth of first-class barbecue equipment and wrote a check for it. The clerk at the store agreed it was Keating, because he called the bank upon which the check was written to verify the account. He said such calls are common where such an amount is involved.

The check was cleared and apparently Keating headed home for a pleasant evening with his new grillwork.

Now why can't officials tap his bank account and bleed it, and other resources, to lighten at least a tiny fraction of the debt the man has run up against society?

It's ridiculous the way people like this spirit away large amounts of money but are never forced to make restititution of any kind.

When somebody can go out and write a $2,000 check for barbecue equipment, there has to be an account somewhere that can be attached. Why are such criminals allowed great freedom and so many benefits when the petty thief is often locked up and forgotten, with little chance of relief?

Far too many big fish get away, without ever so much as having a hook pain their lips.

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