Life for an insider at Community National Bank of Sarasota County was cushy.
The bank paid directors fees well above average, provided cars for top executives and even reimbursed country club dues, according to the FDIC.
Four months after the bank failed in August 2009, the FDIC sent a letter
to Community National's directors and officers demanding they pay $5.4 million because they had acted with "gross negligence."
The letter says the bank's losses resulted from 18 loans that were poorly underwritten and excessive insider compensation.
The letter became public after an insurance company representing Community National's officers and directors sued the FDIC
, rejecting the accusations against top bank officials and saying it was not responsible for paying the claims.
The insurance company later dismissed its suit, but there's no indication that the FDIC has dropped its demands.
Meanwhile in 2009, former employees sued Community National's officers and directors, claiming that their pensions were destroyed because top officials at the bank made improper insider deals and engaged in other "questionable" practices — including a loan that was later used to buy bank stock, a practice that is unlawful in Florida, according to experts contacted by the Herald-Tribune.
No one has been charged with a crime in this case.
Attorneys for the bank's leaders deny those claims in court papers, placing blame for Community National's failure with the housing slump and the Great Recession.
The lawsuit is still pending in federal court.
Launched in 1988, the bank focused on making loans in the Venice area and never grew larger than $113 million in assets.
In 1997, it was bought by a group of Pennsylvania bankers led by Joseph R. Kondisko and William G. McKelvey, who continued to emphasize profitability over asset growth. The new owners paid out nearly $6 million in dividends to themselves and other shareholders from 2002 through 2007.
Meanwhile, Community National did business with developers and speculators, which led to record earnings — and disastrous consequences.
In April 2008, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency hit Community National with an enforcement action, saying it found "unsafe and unsound banking practices related to the lending function at the bank."
The OCC did not provide any details.
"In this local economy, the bank is experiencing probably more delinquencies that it ever has in the past," Charles Graham, the bank's president, told the Herald-Tribune at that time. "Really, the economy has caught us as it has caught everyone."
Kondisko did not return a phone message left with his wife and McKelvey did not respond to phone calls and an email to his Pennsylvania business.