Charles Keating Jr., a high-profile symbol of the nation's savings and loan crisis, can't fight criminal and civil charges against him unless his $5 million bail is reduced and he is freed, his lawyer told a judge.
"He is suffering a severe deprivation in his ability to prepare for the proceedings here and a myriad of other proceedings," lawyer Stephen Neal said Thursday during a bail-reduction hearing.The hearing continued Friday before Superior Court Judge Gary Klausner, who surprised even prosecutors by setting such a high bail for Keating and $1 million bail each for three co-defendants.
Neal and character witnesses, including a nun, said Keating and his co-defendants wouldn't flee from prosecution. They said Keating is a pauper, escaping personal bankruptcy only through his banks' forbearance, selling jewelry and vacation homes in the Bahamas to pay his debts.
"Mr. Keating has never failed to appear at a court hearing," Neal said.
Keating, 66, already a target of many civil lawsuits stemming from the $2 billion collapse of his Lincoln Savings & Loan, and the others surrendered Tuesday to face a 42-count state grand jury indictment.
Outside the court, an elderly woman who lost her life savings on Lincoln bonds said she wanted him kept locked up.
"He's taken everybody else's money. He should have to suffer a little too," said Evangeline Ivy of Glendale.
If bail is posted, the defendants must prove the money did not come from criminal activity before they could be released from jail.
The criminal fraud indictment alleges that Keating and three of his top employees misrepresented the safety of American Continental junk bonds sold at Lincoln branches. More than 20,000 investors, many elderly, are believed to have lost $250 million on the securities.
Prosecutors said they intentionally limited the scope of the case to ensure a jury can understand it easily.