Robert A. Ferrante, who is being sued by regulators over his role in the collapse of an Irvine-based savings and loan he owned, asked a federal court judge Tuesday to impose a gag order to prevent public access to information arising from the civil proceedings.
Ferrante, who owned Consolidated Savings Bank until regulators seized it in May, 1986, and later closed it, claims that publicity generated from the court filings is hindering his ability to earn a living in his real estate business.
He also wants the court to halt temporarily all pretrial proceedings until criminal investigations, and any subsequent criminal actions, are completed. Otherwise, he states in his court papers, he would have to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
The FBI has acknowledged that it is investigating the collapse of Consolidated, and Ferrante states in his court papers that a federal grand jury is looking into the failure.
Charges of Fraud
In its 20-month-old suit, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., which is acting as liquidator of the S&L, accused Ferrante and Consolidated's directors and top officers of racketeering, fraud and other wrongdoing that led to the institution's failure.
A tentative hearing date on Ferrante's request, as well as on two motions by FSLIC to compel Ferrante's testimony, is scheduled Feb. 1 by U.S. District Court Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer.
"We think our client and other defendants have suffered quite a bit," said Brian A. Sun, one of Ferrante's attorneys. "Some have lost jobs or employment. Business deals have gone down the tubes because of all the publicity and FSLIC's allegations, which we strongly contest."
James H. Lauer Jr., an FSLIC staff attorney, said Ferrante's requests are "unwarranted." He said Ferrante's desire to halt proceedings "appears to be motivated solely by his interest in preventing FSLIC from pursuing its legitimate claims arising from the failure of Consolidated."
Ferrante and Consolidated's former chairman, Ottavio A. Angotti, have sued the FSLIC, claiming that the agency's actions before seizing the S&L caused the failure.