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Judge Won't Hold Molinaro in Contempt

December 16, 1987|CATHERINE GEWERTZ | United Press International

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge Tuesday denied a request by federal regulators to hold John L. Molinaro, former owner of Ramona Savings & Loan Assn., in contempt of court for taking millions of dollars out of the country.

The Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. sought the civil contempt order against Molinaro, who pleaded guilty last month in a related criminal case to obtaining $6.4 million in fraudulent loan proceeds from Ramona when he tried to sell the Orange-based institution in early 1986.

More than a year ago, U.S. District Judge Alicemarie Stotler had ordered Molinaro's assets frozen, pending resolution of a $40 million civil fraud suit filed against him by the FSLIC. The agency contended that Molinaro violated that freeze this year by transferring millions of dollars to his former wife and to offshore accounts in the Caribbean.

Not Warranted

Stotler rejected the argument, saying such a move is not warranted until she knows whether Molinaro has begun to trace and return all his assets. Molinaro agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in that process as part of his plea agreement.

Attorneys for both sides were expected to report to Stotler on that matter at a Feb. 1 hearing.

In previous rulings in the civil suit, Stotler issued two orders sought by the FSLIC and directed Molinaro to repay the $6.4 million, as well as $2 million for a dividend he had collected from Ramona. With interest added to that $8.4 million, Molinaro now owes $9.1 million, FSLIC attorney Richard Fruin Jr. said.

Scheduled for Sentencing

Molinaro, 46, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 22 for his guilty pleas to four counts of participation in fraudulent loan proceeds. He has also pleaded guilty in San Francisco to one count of passport fraud for using the identity of a dead man to apply for a passport.

When he pleaded guilty to the bank fraud charges on Nov. 25, Molinaro told U.S. District Judge David Kenyon that he approved $10 million in loans in 1986 as part of a plan to allow business associate Donald W. Stump to buy Ramona for $7.2 million.

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