Charles Keating, one of the most infamous figures in Arizona history, has died at 90 years old.
The real-estate developer served prison time for fraud because of his actions in the savings-and-loan crisis of the '80s and '90s. His scheme also sparked a political scandal called the "Keating Five," whose members included Arizona's Dennis DeConcini and John McCain, as well as three other then-U.S. Senators.
Keating moved to Arizona in 1976 to run a real-estate firm, American Continental Corporation, which became profitable as a residential home-builder around Phoenix, and also built commercial projects, such as the Phoenician resort.
In 1984, Keating's American Continental Corporation acquired Lincoln Savings and Loan, which, like other savings-and-loan outlets, started taking advantage of government deregulation by making riskier investments with money from depositors.
While the Federal Home Loan Bank Board was investigating Lincoln over risky investments and unreported losses, Keating enlisted the help of the Keating Five, by way of heaps of campaign contributions -- more than $1 million. The senators tried to get the regulators to back off, which did not look good once American Continental Corporation went bankrupt and thousands lost their life savings.
The Senate Ethics Committee investigated the five senators who helped Keating, but nothing serious came of it. Meanwhile, Keating served more than four years in prison for fraud.
UPDATE April 3: Former New Times reporter John Dougherty has written an analysis of Keating's legacy. Also, a longtime New Times reader shared a story about the time he went to dinner with Keating, and Keating stuck him with the nearly $1,000 tab.
Below, you can find the links for New Times stories on the Keating Five scandal as it unfolded in the early '90s:
- Keating Five Choke on Charlie's Filthy Lucre
- DeConcini & Keating
- McCain: The Most Reprehensible of the Keating Five
- Charles Keating: What a Political Animas
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