Charles H. Keating Jr.--a man accustomed to corporate jets, mansion living and the comfort of his own fine hotels--has traded five-star luxury for a cell, albeit a private one, at the Los Angeles County Jail.
Blamed by regulators for one of the nation's biggest savings and loan failures, Keating spent his first full day Wednesday as a guest of the county sheriff.
Upon his arrival at the Men's Central Jail on Bauchet Street in downtown Los Angeles, Keating was photographed, fingerprinted and given a booking number: 2195090. He traded his business suit and necktie for prison blues; his corporate attire, like all inmates' street clothes, will be dry-cleaned and waiting upon his release.
He sampled the cuisine: chili macaroni casserole, cole slaw and ice cream for lunch; chicken patty with gravy and rice, tossed salad and apple for dinner. He was offered an hour to exercise, watch television or use the telephone (collect calls only).
And, according to deputies, the man who once presided over ill-fated Lincoln Savings & Loan was probably instructed that he may deposit money in a personal bank account at the jail and keep up to $40 with him at any time, although he arrived with only $25 in his pocket.
The 66-year-old Keating, a brash financier known for his lavish political contributions and his willingness to battle government regulators, was jailed Tuesday after being indicted on 42 state counts of securities fraud and other violations stemming from the failure of his Irvine-based S&L and its former parent, American Continental Corp., headquartered in Phoenix.
Bail was set at $5 million for Keating; three business associates indicted with him are being held on bonds of $1 million each. This morning, lawyers for the four defendants are expected to argue before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gary Klausner that their bail should be reduced.
They may get some unwitting help from prosecutors, who informed the judge Wednesday that--in conversations with defense lawyers before Keating's surrender--they had agreed to $1 million bail for Keating and $50,000 for his colleagues.
Keating's lawyer could not be reached. But according to a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office, the prosectors did not mention those figures when bail was initially set because the defense had asked them to leave it up to the judge.
Spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons also said that, if the defendants can make bail, the prosecution will ask the judge to hold a special hearing to make sure the bond money was not derived from any criminal activity.
Keating's prospects for making bail are not clear. He once owned vacation homes in Florida and the Bahamas, took frequent trips to Europe and traveled on private jets and helicopters, but he now claims to be a pauper.
With more than 7,000 inmates, the Bauchet Street jail is the nation's largest. But Keating, who resides in a one-man cell in a high-security wing adjacent to the jail hospital, will not be permitted to eat, exercise or otherwise mingle with any of the other prisoners.
"He is segregated from the regular population because of his notoriety," said Deputy Dick Dinsmoor. "That's just for his safety. We'll do the same thing for movie stars, people that for some reason might be singled out by the other inmates and be harmed."
Deputies said the accommodations in "administrative segregation," as they call it, are no better or worse than those afforded the general inmate population. Keating's cell has a bunk with a mattress and blanket, a toilet and sink. He'll be able to have visitors and to buy candy, magazines or other personal items from the jail store.
"It's not a country club," Dinsmoor said, "but there are certain things that we do to make people as comfortable as possible."
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