Last April 10, Manning, a Kansas City lawyer based in Washington, had just completed five years of work on the massive brokered deposit fraud perpetrated on 153 financial institutions by Mario Renda of New York. Manning was planning a vacation when an FDIC lawyer called to ask him to take charge of the Lincoln investigation after the planned seizure later that week.
Figuring he would go to Phoenix for a few days and then oversee the case from his Washington office where he was managing partner, Manning agreed. He hasn't left Phoenix yet, and he no longer plans to. Thus Manning enlisted in the army of lawyers whose lives now revolve around Lincoln and American Continental.
His firm has opened an office in Phoenix, and he has moved his family into town. The change has been a tough adjustment on his wife and three children. His second child, a 4-year-old daughter, complains she "wants to go back to her own country," Manning said. His wife was not thrilled with the notion of moving to Phoenix, but now likes it, he said.
"In Washington, I would come home at 10:30 at night and be asked to go to the store, and I'd be standing in a long line at the checkout counter," he said. "Here, I could come home at 8, go out to pick up some groceries and have the store to myself. It's like my own private store."
In poring through Lincoln records, Manning, 40, said he saw many of the same kinds of transactions--such as loans to straw borrowers who had no intention of repaying the debts--that he saw in the Renda and other bank fraud cases.
He and other lawyers in his firm worked nonstop through most of the summer to put together a 167-page, $1.1-billion civil lawsuit accusing Keating and others of racketeering, bank fraud and other wrongdoing. The case was filed in September in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.
"Certainly, this is a large and complex case," he said. "And the allegations don't center on a single bank fraud technique as they usually do in other cases."
Manning will probably amend the suit soon to add more defendants and more allegations. Trial is tentatively set for the summer of 1991.
After spending 28 years in public service, M. Danny Wall is now private citizen Dan Wall. Former aide to Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah), Wall took over as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in July, 1987, with the hope of saving the struggling thrift industry.
Instead, his career was consumed by the Lincoln scandal.
He resigned in December under fire as director of the bank board's successor agency, the Office of Thrift Supervision. His departure followed House Banking Committee hearings on Lincoln that sharply criticized him for failing to close down the S&L in 1987, as his regional staff had recommended.
"It became very clear that no matter what we said to the committee, we had no way of providing a response," Wall said in a telephone interview from New York where he was interviewing for a job--most likely out of the banking industry. "The drumbeat of accusations from the partisan exercise had been growing for too long."
A confirmed workaholic used to long hours and little sleep, the bearded, graying Wall, 51, believes the frustrations and the accusations are behind him. He said regulators in closed-door sessions now praise his work and have copied some of his plans.
Besides his actions on Lincoln, Wall was criticized for sales of failed S&Ls in the final months of 1988 to well-heeled investors such as Robert Bass and Ronald Perelman. He said it is now clear the deals were not federal giveaways. Independent estimates now suggest that the deals saved the government more than $6 billion, he said.
"I've been talking to a lot of people who understood what was going on," Wall said, "and I'm seeing an unbelievable amount of goodwill. There is no one who believes that there was any wrongdoing on my part."
Two and three years ago, he said, nobody could have foreseen the trouble that Lincoln wreaked on the industry and on others. Subsequent events, especially Keating's tenacious court fights, have proven one thing, he said.
"What in hindsight was painted by politicians as clear is, in an evidentiary sense, not so clear," Wall said, pointing to the drawn-out hearings before a federal judge on whether regulators had sufficient evidence to seize Lincoln last year.
Summing up the last year in office is difficult for Wall.
"I don't know how to describe what was going on, except to say that decisions were based on the best information available at the time," he said.
Charles H. Keating Jr. publicly has been painted as the villain, the man in the black hat who allegedly masterminded a scam that led to the collapse of Lincoln. Thousands of bondholders believe it; government regulators believe it; even some former employees believe it.
But Keating sees himself as a victim.
"History is replete with good people ruined by governments," he said with characteristic defiance.