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Long battle with FDIC ends for Purdy banker

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Glen Garrett is breathing a little easier these days.

The chairman of the board of the First State Bank of Purdy has received word from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that agency's case against him has been settled.

Garrett and his attorney, Stephens Woodrough, said they see the settlement as a complete exoneration of the southwest Missouri banker, who has fought the charges leveled against him for about eight years now, spending approximately $2 million.

The deputy director of the FDIC signed an order March 5 that withdrew allegations against Garrett made in a notice of as sessment and terminated the case. David Barr, spokesman for the FDIC, said no money would change hands as a result of the settlement and that this concludes the case, which started after a 1991 investigation.

Garrett was involved with the FDIC over allegations that he was in violation of its regulations. The examination began when the FDIC received an anonymous letter about the bank from a competitor, Woodrough said.

In 1995, the FDIC filed a notice of assessment against Garrett for payment of a $25,000 penalty and charged that he had practiced dishonest banking activities. Garrett said then that he was innocent, and became determined to fight the charges, Woodrough said.

"The real story here is that of Glen Garrett's personal courage to withstand this. It was his resilience and determination that led to our success in this case," Woodrough said.

Woodrough is one of five attorneys who have worked on the case on Garrett's behalf. Garrett said he could have settled the case at any time in the last several years for $25,000, but that settling and conceding to wrongs that he did not commit was out of the question.

"It was worth it to me to clear my name. I've said several times that my father would not have been too proud of me if I said I did something that I didn't do, and that's worth more to me than the money I've spent ... what my father would think of me," Garrett said.

The FDIC's charges against Garrett concerned six loans that the FDIC said were "nominee" loans, loans made to others for the benefit of Garrett. Garrett has said that though the money from the loans was used to pay him money those individuals owed him, the individuals applied for and received the loans on their own merit. A hearing on those charges began in 1996, and this March 5 order marks the conclusion of that hearing.

Garrett said settling the case wasn't his goal, but that he wanted the truth to win.

"It's a shame that any citizen of this country has to spend 12 percent of his life to reach this point, but one of the things those people count on is that nobody is going to be crazy enough to go this far to fight these things. I didn't think they were right, and I wasn't going to agree with that," Garrett said.

During the ordeal, Garrett's bank has continued to grow. In both 1995 and 1998, the FDIC approved applications for the bank to add branches. Garrett bought the Purdy bank in 1974 with a partner who has since left the business. The bank had total deposits of $2.2 million in 1974 and now has more than $100 million. The bank has a total of five locations now in Purdy, Pierce City, Monett and Cassville.

"I have an awful lot of customers who are glad I stood up for my rights. I think some of them feel stronger toward the bank now," Garrett said.

Though he contends he has "never been a banker," Garrett bought the bank in order to make sure that local folks still had a locally owned bank to choose from in the small cities where he's spent his life.

"Even in 1974, I could see some things changing in banking. I could see some things I didn't like about the big banks," Garrett said.

He added that a local bank had loaned him money in 1955 and he "never forgot that."

"Sometimes the only way for people to get somewhere is for someone to have a little faith in them. I wanted to be able to look people in the eye and let them try to get ahead on their own merit," Garrett said. [[In-content Ad]]

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