Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Former Silverado head Wise commits suicide in Fla.

Banker Michael Wise is dead. How strange. I first met this gentleman back in the mid 1980s when I started writing about Silverado Banking. He was smooth, impeccably dressed, wearing tie bars and high end Hart Marx suits.

As they saying goes,Michael could sell ice to an eskimo. People in Denver, which at that time, was a small town, loved him. He joined all the right clubs and said all the right things. But Wise also had a hidden, less obvious side. He keep people at a distance. He employed a slick PR man who I never trusted. Most people who met Wise always wondered what they weren't being told. The answer eventually came out - and it turned out there was a lot to be told. Silverado was built on a funny money scheme. It collapsed in 1988. The feds took it over, bailing out depositors. When the dust settled, Silverado went down in the banking log books as classic '80s S&L gangster behavior.

Wise slipped away. He was always slippery, maybe too much for his own good. He was very good at selling people, knowing when he turn on the charm and when to use his intellectual muscle. He was so good that he convinced Neil Bush, brother of George W. Bush to sit on Silverado's board. Neil was just a dump kid at the time, but Neil's dad, George H. Bush was vice president at the time. Wise wanted an Ace card to play with federal regulators. And Neil, of course, had no idea what he was getting involved in at the time or how he was being used by Wise.

Well, Wise stopped selling this week - committing suicide in Florida. And at this point, Wise is just a post script to a scandal that to most people is a distant memory. The thrift banking crisis cost the government $180 billion - but that seems like a drop in the bucket to the $2.5 - $3 trillion the government is now spending to bail out banks, insurers and re-inflate the economy. My how times change. What follows is a piece from my former employer, the Denver Post where I first wrote about Wise's shenanigans with another former Post reporter, Henry Dubroff who is now a publisher in California. - MT

The Denver Post - Michael Wise, who became a symbol of the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s, committed suicide in Florida last week.

Wise jumped from the ninth floor of a parking garage at Tampa International Airport on April 8, said Henry Poage of the Hillsborough Medical Examiner's office, which ruled the death a suicide.

According to the medical examiner's office, Wise drove a rental car to the ninth floor of the short-term parking garage.

A security video shows Wise pacing, then he stepped off the side. Wise landed in a landscaped area with palm trees and some greenery, said Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan.

He was taken to a hospital but died in the emergency room at 1:39 p.m. The airport's police department ruled out any foul play or accident.

Wise was chairman of Denver-based Silverado Savings and Loan, which collapsed in 1988. http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_12140329


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