SANTA ANA, CALIF., JULY 20 -- Janet Faye McKinzie -- once accustomed to Rolls-Royces and $1,000 cocktail dresses -- was sent to prison today for 20 years and ordered to make restitution of nearly $14 million for her role in looting the now defunct North America Savings & Loan.
U.S. District Court Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler called McKinzie "a pathetic defendant" and gave her the stiffest sentence to date in California in any case stemming from the nationwide savings and loan debacle. Wearing white pumps and a jumper, McKinzie was handcuffed and led away from the Santa Ana courtroom in tears while family and friends looked on.
McKinzie, 40, once a consultant to the thrift, was found guilty in March of 22 of 26 counts, including racketeering, conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.
She did not ask Stotler for a light sentence or express remorse.
"I'm scared," she said in a wavering response and then proceeded to offer a simple thanks to the court for its time.
Following the sentencing, McKinzie's attorney, Richard Haynes, said he thought McKinzie was a scapegoat for the nation's S&L crisis, which is expected to cost taxpayers $500 billion.
"This is comparable to a single Japanese soldier during World War II being tried for the entire assault on Pearl Harbor," Haynes said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul L. Seave said the government thought the sentence was "fair in light of the egregiousness of the crime, and it will act as a deterrent."
The collapse of Santa Ana-based North America Savings and Loan in 1987 cost taxpayers $120 million.
During the eight-week trial, McKinzie was portrayed as a simple woman who was duped into committing financial crimes she did not understand by Duayne Christensen, the thrift's chairman. The defense claimed that he was plying her with prescription drugs.
Christensen, who founded the S&L in 1983, was killed in 1987 when his Jaguar crashed into a bridge support -- hours before state regulators declared North America insolvent.