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Bondholder Hits Keating With Wig Outside Court

September 04, 1991|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For a second time in a month, the criminal securities fraud trial of Charles H. Keating Jr. was disrupted Tuesday by a bondholder who accosted the former owner of Lincoln Savings & Loan during a break in proceedings.

As Keating was returning to the courtroom, Skip E. Lowe, 62, a West Hollywood comedian, pulled a powdered blonde wig from an MGM movie travel bag and hit Keating twice near his right shoulder.

"This is for America," Lowe said as he took a swipe. "And this is for the senior citizens you ripped off."

Keating blocked the attack and continued on to the courtroom, where he is standing trial on 20 counts of duping Lincoln investors into believing that high-yield, high-risk bonds were safe. Sheriff's deputies removed Lowe from the building.

Lincoln's $2.6-billion failure was the biggest ever. Many investors lost their life savings on Keating's junk bonds, including at least one who committed suicide, and the case has become a symbol of the nation's S&L disasters.

The wig incident prompted court bailiffs to escort Keating through the hallways of Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Lance A. Ito, who was initially told that Keating had been attacked by an elderly woman, said he was "concerned that we continue to have little old ladies approach Keating."

"If little old ladies can get this close, I'm concerned that someone with more serious intent can get close," he said.

Last month, an elderly woman approached Keating in court, tugged at his lapels and shouted that he had taken all her money. That incident prompted Ito to have metal detectors installed outside the courtroom and to take other precautionary measures.

Keating's lawyer, Stephen C. Neal, said he and his client worried more about any adverse impact that continued scenes might have on the trial. But he said that he didn't know if any jurors saw the incident and that "we have no complaints about security."

Lowe, who hosts a public access celebrity interview show for cable-television viewers on the city's Westside, said his attack was not a publicity stunt. He said he lost close to $80,000, which a former business manager had invested for him without his knowledge.

"I hated his grinning face and attitude," Lowe said. "I did something I had to do. It was not just for me but for all senior citizens and for all American people, who have to pay for what he did."

Keating has denied that he deceived investors. The former chairman of Lincoln's parent company, American Continental Corp. in Phoenix, said he relied on top lawyers and accountants in setting up the bond sales and that regulators approved the sales.

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