The Commonwealth Savings & Loan Association of Florida was incorporated in Florida in 1980 and failed nine years later in 1989. The company’s headquarters were located in Ft. Lauderdale.
In 1990, a former top executive of the company was indicted on 54 counts of bank fraud in what authorities said is one of Florida’s largest cases of S&L fraud.
The federal indictment said that the fraud conspiracy caused the S&L to suffer $33 million in losses between 1984 and 1988, and that those losses significantly contributed to the company’s failure.
Jason Chapnick, the company’s VP and Treasurer, was charged with orchestrating an elaborate four-year financial shell game in which he created secret accounts to divert $38 million in Commonwealth funds to conceal massive losses from bad commodities options deals that he had authorized. The indictment also charges that Chapnick diverted $1.5 million of the S&L’s funds for his own use. At the time, William Gavin, head of the FBI’s Miami office said, “If there were a mask and gun involved, we could almost call this bank robbery.”
Also named in the indictment were Kenneth Fletcher, the former president of Commvest Securities Inc., the wholly owned securities trading arm of Commonwealth; and Herbert Leslie Kalbach, a commodities investment broker who managed Commonwealth’s commodities portfolio from 1984 to 1988.
Chapnick`s brother, Barry, was chairman of Commonwealth during the period of the alleged fraud. He was not charged in the indictment.
In a related indictment, a former executive vice president at Commonwealth, Felix M. Adams, was charged with diverting more than $8,000 of the S&L’s funds to the election campaign war chests of several Florida politicians (who were not identified but were rumored to include US Senator Bob Graham). According to the indictment, Adams approached at least six Commonwealth employees in October 1986 to solicit political campaign contributions. When the employees balked at contributing, he guaranteed that they would be reimbursed by Commonwealth funds for the amount of their contribution. The indictment said that then-Commonwealth Chairman Barry Chapnick directed which candidates would receive the funds. He was not named as a defendant in the Adams indictment. Federal election laws prohibited political contributions from the assets of corporations.
The story got even more sordid, when an attorney who filed numerous suits against the S&L, making sensational charges against the former top executives of Commonwealth Savings and Loan Association of Florida that they conspired to kill him. Attorney Robert H. Anderson II claimed that the Chapnick brothers hired Miami and Boston crime families to kill him because Anderson uncovered a loan scheme while Anderson represented David Chapnick.
Anderson would come to face disciplinary action from the Florida Bar, who alleged that Anderson repeatedly filed frivolous and redundant suits, had been held in criminal contempt by a Broward circuit judge for lying and made a medically incapacitated client sign legal documents.
What a mess.
Common Stock Certificate, specimen, late 1900’sPrinter: American Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: FL-Florida Subject Matter: Finance and Related
| Banks and Credit Unions
| Scandals and Collapses
| Specimen Pieces Vignette Topic(s): Company Logo Featured Condition:
No fold lines, punch hole cancels in the signature areas and body, some toning and edge faults from age.