AN ENTERPRISING DEFENDANT
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.
"Mr. Dean Brewer has been honest and straightforward in every dealing I have had with him," wrote Gary D. Tabbert, a retired U.S. Navy captain. "He has never failed to keep his word, nor has he acted in an irresponsible manner."
Tabbert said he believes Brewer won't flee. "He does not require incarceration to ensure his presence at trial," Tabbert wrote.
Interactive Media Technologies president Allan S. Ayars praised Brewer for developing a cash management plan in 1993 for the bankrupt company, a method Ayars described as "helping us help ourselves."
Cudahy takes a far dimmer view of Brewer's assistance to Interactive Media Technologies, a multimedia manufacturing and distribution company. The prosecutor alleges that Brewer's cash management plan allowed IMT to help itself to a quarter-million dollars of Charter Title escrow funds in the months before Charter collapsed.
The state Banking Department alleges in court documents that Brewer diverted $258,000 of Charter Title funds to IMT while the company was attempting to develop a bankruptcy recovery plan. The diversion was part of $500,000 Brewer had promised to invest in the company, an infusion that would have given Brewer controlling interest of IMT, according to federal bankruptcy records.
But Brewer never transferred the remainder of the promised $500,000 because regulators seized Charter. Brewer then "lost contact" with IMT, Ayars wrote to the court. But Brewer still had some pull with the company, and when he asked for a job last July, Ayars was happy to oblige.
"Though the press about him was very bad, the company considered that the benefit of Mr. Brewer's planning skills would justify his involvement," Ayars wrote.
Cudahy said Brewer's employment at IMT as a consultant "is simply the defendant continuing to derive a temporary benefit from his fraud on Charter Title."
Mathew says there is nothing inappropriate about Brewer's employment with IMT and that he is "not aware of any improprieties" related to Charter Title funds going to the company.
While Cudahy and Mathew debate the merits of Brewer's employment at IMT, Brewer says he doesn't even work there anymore.
"I'm not working there," Brewer says after answering IMT's phone.
"No, there's another business."
What's the other business?
"It doesn't matter," he says.
It matters to Robert Dorociak, a co-owner of United Title Agency. Charter's failure cost his company the $200,000 contribution it made to the state's $2.2 million emergency fund, which was drained to help cover Charter's losses.
Dorociak, who attended Brewer's October bond-reduction hearing just to let him know that the state title company executives are closely watching the case, says he was glad to see Brewer in handcuffs.
Dorociak believes it "is inappropriate" for Brewer to be working at the offices of the company that received a quarter-million dollars of Charter's funds.
"We don't think too kindly of that," Dorociak says.
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