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Seized Luxury Cars Bought With Stolen Money, RTC Says : S&Ls: A group of employees at Guardian in Huntington Beach allegedly diverted funds to buy two Mercedeses and a BMW.


SANTA ANA — Three luxury cars allegedly purchased with money stolen from Guardian Savings & Loan in Huntington Beach have been seized in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, federal regulators said Monday.

The cars--two Mercedes-Benzes and a BMW--were bought by Guardian employees, the Resolution Trust Corp. said in a press release. The names of those involved were not immediately disclosed.

The RTC said the scam resulted in diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Guardian between December, 1991, and March, 1993.

"A group of individuals, while employed at Guardian Savings, allegedly directed funds illegally to a private business," the RTC said in the press release. "A portion of the funds was purportedly used to purchase the three vehicles."

Guardian has been under RTC supervision since June, 1991.

The automobiles were seized last week by agents of the RTC's Office of the Inspector General. The agents obtained a warrant in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. Details of the operation were not disclosed until Monday.

For the first three months of this year, the latest figures available, Guardian reported a loss of $1.9 million. The thrift lost $52.4 million for 1992.

The U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision in early 1991 ousted Guardian's owner, Russell M. Jedinak, citing sloppy record-keeping and an archaic management structure. The federal agency then brought in two former state regulators to save the faltering savings and loan.

William J. Crawford, a commissioner of the California Department of Savings and Loans in the 1980s, was chairman, president and chief executive, but reported to an RTC official. His former deputy at the state agency, William D. Davis, was brought in as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Crawford and Davis, both veteran thrift executives, had earned reputations as tough regulators. Both were asked by the RTC to resign, however, after only a few months at Guardian.

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