LOS ANGELES, JULY 6 -- Former Columbia Savings & Loan chief Thomas Spiegel won a reprieve today from posting nearly $19 million while he fights charges he squandered thrift funds.
However, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson restricted Spiegel's personal finances until a hearing later this month and ordered him to post a $1 million bond by Wednesday.
Spiegel's lawyer called the ruling a victory in his war with U.S. thrift regulators, who had sought to freeze the $19 million in an escrow account today and are seeking another $5 million in fines. The $24 million is the largest civil case ever brought against an individual by the regulators.
Spiegel has accused the regulators of making him a scapegoat to divert attention from their incompetence.
Regulators say Spiegel wasted Columbia funds on guns, rock concerts, wine, vacations, partnerships and purchases with junk bond king Michael Milken, loans to an auto dealer who provided free luxury cars to Spiegel, and $2.8 million in bonuses he drew even as Columbia was losing money. Spiegel, who earned millions while pouring Beverly Hills-based Columbia's money heavily into Milken's high-risk, high-yield bonds, was charged Thursday by the Office of Thrift Supervision with improperly diverting the money.
The $19 million in restitution, if recovered, would go to the thrift, while the $5 million penalty would go to the U.S. Treasury.