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Officials Growing Tired of Roth's Legal Woes : Investigation: One O.C. supervisor concedes the spreading inquiry could disrupt county government.

January 27, 1993|ERIC LICHTBLAU and KEVIN JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Tuesday, Garner said that while his bank does not deal in home loans, he may have provided some advice to the supervisor, whom he described as a "good guy."

"If Jackie says I made a referral, I could have, but I don't recall," Garner said. "I may have passed on (mortgage company President) Brian Zwick's name after seeing him in the hallway or something like that. But I had no wherewithal to help him."

"I got no favors and he never asked me for any," said Garner. "I didn't get him a lower (interest) rate on a loan. I got no special favors at all."

Garner was instrumental in helping Roth win election in 1986, when Roth was engaged in a hotly contested race for supervisor against Jim Beam. Garner's bank, Anaheim Commerce National Bank, loaned the Roth campaign $102,500 to provide a much-needed infusion of cash.

The Roth camp enlisted individual contributors such as Anaheim hotelier Jim Stovall and political consultant Lois Lundberg to guarantee the loan, but the bank actually gave the money to the campaign. Roth campaign bookkeeper Jane Willet said Tuesday that the entire loan has since been paid back.

Garner himself has also given more than $7,300 to Roth's campaign since 1985.

Officials at Garner's company, American Commerce National Bank, and at American Commerce Mortgage Co., which arranged the Roth mortgage, say the two firms are completely independent, with no mutual ownership ties.

Garner said, however, that the bank leases office space to the mortgage company in the same office building and sold the mortgage firm rights to the "American Commerce" name for $1 when the mortgage company was founded seven years ago.

The two companies also have an unwritten understanding to funnel business to one another, Garner said.

Garner said he was not aware that a search warrant had been served on his bank seeking access to Roth's personal accounts. He described the supervisor as a friend with whom he sometimes dined or associated with at a golf tournament.

The district attorney's office says it is interested in the mortgage loan because of Roth's claim that he made $4,000 a month as a consultant, a claim that his lawyer now says was untrue.

"It's almost a Catch-22 for Roth," Deputy Dist. Atty. Guy R. Ormes said Tuesday. "He either lied to get the loan, or he lied (on income-tax reports and political disclosure reports)."

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