By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
When we last checked on Dean Mark Brewer, he was sitting in Maricopa County Jail on $314,000 bail, charged with 132 counts of theft in the looting of $8.17 million from the now-closed Charter Title Agency.
But Brewer didn't gain access to the world of high finance by being a dullard. He has always exhibited an uncanny knack for landing on his feet, and he continues to do so.
For example, he's already out of jail, thanks to the judge who slashed his bail from $314,000 to $75,000.
He's living with his girlfriend; his wife and family moved to California.
His trial is perhaps two years down the road.
And, he's gainfully employed. He's got a job in the offices of a company that allegedly received more than $250,000 Brewer diverted from Charter Title escrow accounts.
Brewer's renaissance last fall from jail inmate to corporate consultant typifies the ingenuity and resilience he has displayed during a decade of financial travails ranging from personal bankruptcy, numerous civil suits, a five-year federal criminal probe and now a lengthy state criminal indictment.
Despite the thicket of legal troubles ahead, Brewer continues to prosper.
Reached last week at the offices of Interactive Media Technologies, Inc., in Scottsdale, Brewer was reserved in his comments, but generally upbeat, describing himself as doing "fine."
The 41-year-old accountant surrendered to state attorney general's investigators September 22, the day after a state grand jury returned the indictment that also includes one count of fraudulent schemes. Brewer was booked into the Maricopa County Jail and remained there until October 11, when his girlfriend, Leslie Schoepf, posted the reduced bond.
The indictment alleges that Brewer stole the money from Charter Title's escrow accounts through 132 checks he signed between August 16, 1991, and October 18, 1993.
Brewer allegedly spent a significant portion of the stolen money on himself: he purchased and operated a 120-foot yacht in San Diego, he made mortgage payments and added a swimming pool to his $400,000 Scottsdale home, he invested for himself, he traveled and entertained lavishly.
The state Banking Department had seized Charter Title in October 1993 after it received tips that Brewer was diverting escrow funds. Investigators soon found that millions of dollars had been transferred out of Charter Title escrow accounts into CTA Financial, Inc., a company owned by Brewer and longtime business associate R. Bruce Harshey.
While Harshey has not been charged in connection with Charter Title's failure, the company's former accountant pleaded guilty to filing false financial statements with state banking authorities. Scottsdale CPA Wayne David Rozdolski entered the plea last fall, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors and testify at Brewer's trial. Rozdolski declined to comment.
Although Brewer is charged with stealing $8.17 million, state banking officials say approximately $10 million disappeared from Charter's escrow accounts. The state so far has recovered about $2.5 million, most of it coming from the $1.8 million sale of Brewer's yacht, Crystal.
Even though millions of dollars remain unaccounted for, state Banking Superintendent Richard Houseworth says everyone who had money in Charter Title's escrow accounts has already or will soon recover their funds. A Maricopa County Superior Court last month approved a repayment plan. The money is coming from the sale of Brewer's assets, from a $2.2 million emergency state fund and $5 million from First American Title Company, which was Charter's underwriter.
Brewer, who once told New Times ("Charter Runs Aground," December 29, 1993) that those who contributed to Charter's collapse would go to prison, got only a brief taste of jail life last fall. He could still be locked up if his $314,000 bail hadn't been substantially lowered by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Susan R. Bolton.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Cudahy argued against the lower bail, contending that Brewer is a flight risk because he not only faces a prison sentence of at least ten years on the state charges but may face federal criminal charges stemming from the 1989 failure of California mortgage banking company. The collapse of the mortgage banking firm resulted in $13 million in losses for two savings and loan associations. The whereabouts of much of that money, like the missing millions from Charter, are unknown, California investigators say.
In addition, the prosecutor argued in court papers, Brewer's wife and children have moved from Arizona and Brewer would be under the supervision of Schoepf, who Cudahy alleges received $15,000 of Charter Title funds. There is no evidence, however, that Schoepf was aware of Brewer's alleged theft, Cudahy acknowledged.
"The $314,000 bond amount is appropriate in view of the significant flight risk presented by this defendant," Cudahy wrote.
Brewer's attorney, Ivan Mathew, says the $75,000 bond that Brewer's girlfriend posted exceeds the state's bail guidelines, which called for his release on his own recognizance.
"We felt that his own recognizance would be adequate, but this seems to be a compromise of what we wanted and what the Attorney General's Office wanted," Mathew says.
The judge lowered Brewer's bail after receiving letters on Brewer's behalf from family, friends and business associates. The letters lauded the former owner of Charter Title as a man of integrity and determination, a man who is willing to face the charges.
Schoepf wrote the court, "Dulled by the accusations are many of Dean's positive qualities": volunteering time to the Boy Scouts of America, the American Soccer Youth Organization, Orange County (California) Leukemia Society and Valley of the Sun United Way.