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Marvin Warner, 82; Head of Failed Bank

April 13, 2002|From Associated Press

OCALA, Fla. — Marvin L. Warner, who headed Cincinnati-based Home State Savings Bank when it collapsed in 1985, triggering a run on savings and loans in Ohio, died Monday. He was 82.

Warner suffered heart failure in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where he planned to watch the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.

The collapse of Home State Savings Bank drained Ohio's private savings and loan insurance fund, and caused then-Gov. Richard Celeste to close 69 thrifts.

Warner was convicted on nine counts of fraud-related charges in 1987, and served two years and four months in an Ohio prison.

About 90,000 people lost access to $143 million in savings because of Warner's investments in ESM Government Securities Inc., which sold bonds to governments, institutions and individuals.

Florida-based ESM sent out false financial statements that portrayed it as healthy when it was deeply in debt. ESM closed in 1985 after federal authorities charged it with fraud.

It took years for savers to regain their money. The recovery included $102 million from state-filed lawsuits, including $4.5 million from a settlement of Warner's bankruptcy. The rest came from the sale of real estate, apartment buildings, offices and other properties owned by Home State.

After his release from prison, Warner moved to his 150-acre horse farm in Ocala, sheltered from creditors under Florida's "homestead" law.

Warner's family owned a bakery in Birmingham, Ala., the city where Warner was born and raised. He was in the Army during World War II, serving in the Pacific, and was discharged with the rank of major.

A gifted orator in high school, Warner attended the University of Alabama on a scholarship, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees there.

He purchased Home State Savings Bank in 1958, and through his career bought and sold several financial institutions, including selling Century Banks of Fort Lauderdale to Sun Bank of Orlando.

Warner also was one of 13 part-owners of the New York Yankees from 1973 to 1975. He also had ownership stakes in the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Birmingham Stallions of the now defunct USFL. He was a prominent horseman and owner of Warnerton Farms.

From 1977 to 1981, Warner served as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland under President Carter.

He is survived by a son and two daughters.

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