La Jolla Bank, which failed last week amid allegations of possible fraud, is the subject of a Nevada lawsuit that has a great cast of characters.
It involves a Republican Senate candidate, a flamboyant San Diego real estate broker, a basketball coach known for chewing towels, a horse farm that once belonged to Don Drysdale, and allegations of fraud.
The Tarkanians are a prominent Las Vegas family: Danny Tarkanian is a Republican who’s trying to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. His dad, Jerry, is the former towel-chewing men’s basketball coach at UNLV; his mom, Lois, is a Las Vegas councilwoman.
La Jolla Bank lent $25.5 million in 2005 to the Tarkanians and their partners, with the Las Vegas land as security.
The Tarkanians planned to loan some of that money to Solana Beach broker-turned-developer Robert A. Dyson Jr. for an “equestrian destination resort” in Anza, California on land once owned by Dodgers great Don Drysdale.
Unbeknownst to the Tarkanians, however, Dyson already owed money to La Jolla Bank for the Anza project. He paid off some of his La Jolla Bank loans with the money that the Tarkanians borrowed from the same bank.
The North County Times reported last year that Dyson and his wife made a fortune selling high-end coastal real estate only to file for bankruptcy in 2008. Some juicy details:
“The trustee supervising their bankruptcy recommended in December that the couple abandon the Rancho Santa Fe home that they bought in June 2005 because debt and liens account for nearly its entire $7 million value. A later filing by the trustee recommended they give up a $90,000 leased Porsche sports car and their $3.2 million home in Palm Desert, which is in foreclosure.”
The Tarkanians’ lawsuit describes Dyson as friends with Rick Hall, La Jolla Bank’s president, and says he attended regular meetings and events at the bank.
The bank’s “main owner,” Frank Warren, served as the landlord for several of Dyson’s real estate offices, according to the Tarkanians’ lawsuit.
“Because of the close connection between Mr. Dyson and La Jolla Bank, La Jolla Bank was well aware of the perilous web created by Mr. Dyson in which it aided Mr. Dyson,” the suit states.
“Fraudulent activity was recently discovered” at La Jolla Bank, FDIC spokesman Greg Hernandez tells City News Service in a story today.
On Friday, the Office of Thrift Supervision shut the bank down and noted “deficient corporate oversight by the Board and management.”
Frank R. Warren established the bank in 1985. He remained chairman of La Jolla Bancorp, the parent holding company, which was controlled by Warren family trusts. The bank’s president and chief executive was Rick F. Hall.
La Jolla Bank grew incredibly fast in recent years. Assets (loans) had doubled in three years, rising from $1.6 billion in 2004 to $3.3 billion in 2007. This growth was concentrated in commercial and residential construction, land developing, and multi-family and commercial real estate lending, according to federal regulators.
The bank’s fall was even faster. Non-performing assets (90 days past due) increased from $71 million at year-end 2008, to $777 million at year-end 2009.
The Rancho Santa Fe-based bank had 124 employees, nine branches in Southern California and one in Dallas, Texas.
The bank was closed on Feb. 19 and deposits were transferred to OneWest Bank of Pasadena (formerly IndyMac). OneWorld investors include J. Christopher Flowers, George Soros and John Paulson.