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Fugitive Former Executive of O.C. Thrift Held in Hong Kong

September 04, 1996|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Orange County savings and loan executive, on the run for three years after his conviction for defrauding an Irvine thrift, has been captured and is awaiting an extradition hearing in Hong Kong.

Ottavio A. Angotti, former chief executive of the now-failed Consolidated Savings Bank, is expected to fight his return to California at a Nov. 4 hearing in Hong Kong.

Angotti, 60, had been teaching international finance at Shenzhen University in China for the past two years, using his real name and an Italian passport, according to a Hong Kong news report and his California lawyer, Michael H. Artan of Los Angeles.

"Extradition is a slow process," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Richard E. Robinson, who noted that Angotti was captured June 19 by Interpol officers on one of several visits to Hong Kong, and has been in jail since.

Robinson, who prosecuted Angotti and others for the 1986 failure of Consolidated, said that formal papers seeking extradition had to be submitted through the U.S. State Department.

Artan said that Angotti explained his actions in several lengthy letters sent from his jail cell, but the lawyer would not discuss the contents, saying they were privileged.

Angotti was convicted in early May 1993 of falsifying Consolidated's loan records, and faced a 25-year sentence. Two weeks later, he was indicted with his older son in a separate case alleging loan fraud and money laundering.

But while awaiting sentencing on the conviction and arraignment on the indictment, he was dropped off at a San Diego hospital in late May for cancer tests. However, he fled without checking into the hospital.

His older son, Antonio M. Angotti, 37, a onetime Wall Street investment banker, was later convicted of conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements to obtain a $480,000 loan on a condominium in a project his father was developing, Robinson said. He is serving 41 months in prison.

Consolidated was a tiny thrift that played a role in financing major deals, including the operation of Pyrotronics Inc. in Anaheim, then the state's largest manufacturer of so-called safe-and-sane fireworks.

The thrift's failure, at a cost to taxpayers of $43 million, also became a top-priority FBI case in large part because of sole owner Robert A. Ferrante's alleged dealings with associates of organized crime. Ferrante, a former Newport Beach developer, was acquitted of all charges stemming from the thrift's failure.

Angotti and a Ferrante aide were acquitted of charges of illegally funneling nearly $12 million to one set of Ferrante-controlled companies, but were convicted of illegally funneling $1.6 million to Pyrotronics, which Ferrante also controlled.

After the pair won retrials, the aide, Raymond L. Arthun, pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was sentenced to 60 days in prison.

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