For S and L scandal figure, a new gig

A former savings and loan chief lands in St. Petersburg after failures in Colorado.

Published May 9, 2007

One of the leading figures of the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s is getting a fresh start in St. Petersburg in the mortgage business.

Michael Wise is working out of a CFIC Home Mortgage office in downtown St. Petersburg after having failed spectacularly in two Colorado business ventures.

Wise, 62, is a former Kansas clothing salesman who became best known as the chairman of Silverado Banking in Denver, where Neil Bush brother of the president and Florida's former governor was one of the directors and former Tampa Palms developer Kenneth Good was a major borrower. The institution's collapse in 1988 cost taxpayers $1-billion.

As a result, Wise was barred from the banking industry for life even though he was acquitted of charges that he used a $500, 000 Silverado loan for personal expenses.

He moved on to Aspen, where he was accused of stealing $8.7-million from investors in a mortgage business, Cornerstone Private Capital. He pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to three years in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan.

After being released, Wise went to work for Nations Holding Co., a Kansas company that owns CFIC Home Mortgage. He declined to discuss what he is doing or how he ended up in St. Petersburg.

"I have nothing to say, " Wise said Tuesday when the Times called. "I have no reason to talk with you."

Chris Likens, owner of Nations Holdings, did not return phone calls from the Times. However, he told the Denver Post that he thought Wise could use a second chance in life.

"His principal involvement deals with marketing, getting additional branches and things of that nature, " Likens told the Post. "He's a good communicator."

Likens told the Post that Wise doesn't handle money or write checks for the company.

Helen Huntley can be reached at hhuntley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8230.