Walter Dodson Jr. was voted "Florida Banker of the Year" in 2001 and twice served as the president of the Florida Bankers Association.
But prestige was not enough to keep his institution, Wakulla Bank, from failing in October 2010.
According to regulators
, Dodson's problem was that he and his staff gave into the speculative fever that gripped the state during the boom years. The Crawfordville-based bank ramped up its lending from $200 million in March 2004 to $350 million three years later.
Instead of making sure that borrowers had the wherewithal to make payments in good times or bad, Wakulla's underwriters focused almost exclusively on the rising value of real estate when they made their decisions to lend.
"Most of the adversely classified assets are residential-related — speculative land, lots and single-family homes — where the primary source of repayment is from the sale of the collateral," state regulators noted in an April 2009 report.
Regulators noted that as the bank's financial situation deteriorated, its executives were slow to write down bad loans, making the lender seem financially healthier than it was.
"Over half the loans reviewed were downgraded during the exam," regulators wrote in their report.
"Borrowers and guarantors in several large relationships appear to be overextended, and credit files lack documentation and analysis which demonstrate the borrowers' and related entities' repayment ability in a stressed real estate market."
Dodson did not return three calls.
UPDATE: The FDIC sued the leaders of Wakulla bank on July 31 and accused them of gross negligence