DALLAS, JUNE 14 -- The former owner of the collapsed Vernon Savings & Loan today said he is innocent of charges that he spent thousands of dollars in thrift money on pleasure trips, prostitutes and illegal contributions to politicians.
Donald R. Dixon, 50, was charged Wednesday with conspiracy, misapplication of funds, making false statements and other offenses.
Government attorneys said the thrift is a prime example of abuse in the S&L industry. Five other Vernon officials have pleaded guilty to crimes in the $1.3 billion collapse of the S&L in 1987, and two have been sentenced to prison for their part in its downfall.
''Perhaps when my day in court comes, if they'll listen, they'll find out what really happened and the blame can be properly assessed and properly assigned,'' Dixon said.
Dixon appeared before U.S. Magistrate John B. Tolle and was freed on a personal recognizance bond.
He did not enter a plea at his court appearance, but told reporters afterward that he intended to plead innocent.
''For the moment, the U.S. government is making a scapegoat of me because they're unaccountable for their role in the $500 billion or greater loss the American taxpayer has to pay,'' he said.
The indictment alleges the political contributions were made ''for the purpose of currying favor and influence'' in anticipation of regulatory action by the Texas Savings and Loan Department and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.
Prosecutors said the politicians did not know the contributions were illegal. None was charged, nor were any thrift regulators.
If convicted on all charges, Dixon faces 190 years in prison and a $9.5 million fine.
Among other things, Dixon was charged with conspiring with other Vernon officials to give money to Texas Democrat Jim Wright, the former House speaker who was pressing federal regulators to stop trying to close insolvent Texas thrifts.
The indictment alleged Dixon also billed Vernon $10,500 for prostitutes for himself and others at a 1985 Vernon board of directors' party at Dixon's Solana Beach, Calif., beach house and on a yacht cruise in San Diego harbor.