Charles Keating Stiffed Me on a Nearly $1,000 Restaurant Bill: A Reader's Remembrance

Categories: News, Obituaries

charles-keating.jpg
Timothy Archibald
Charles Keating
Of course, I had heard of Charles Keating. The man became famous as an anti-porn crusader in Cincinnati back in the '70s, hustling his version of morality against Hustler's version of what the Founding Fathers meant in the First Amendment. My knowledge of Mr. Keating didn't end there, however. I read about his adventures through his land-development empire-building in Arizona and watched him, eventually, go down in flames when his Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed in the midst of controversy and accusations while investors lost their life savings in the debacle.

Although I had heard of him and knew a little about him, I must confess that I never really thought of him as a crook, someone who'd step out of his way to steal the Social Security check from a widow with promises of riches beyond avarice. Yes, I knew I was in the minority, that millions of Americans thought of him as a thief and swindler. That thousands of Americans lost money in the Lincoln collapse. Still, I thought there must be another side to the story. This man who had created so much enterprise and land development couldn't be that bad. Or, could he?

Tim-McWeeney.jpg
Courtesy Photo
Tim McWeeney remembers Charles Keating not so fondly.
In August 1997, my wife and I were having dinner with a business associate and his wife at Tomaso's, a nice Italian restaurant in Phoenix, when, like the coronation of a king, Charles Keating and his entourage entered the restaurant and seized the table next to ours.

See Also: Charles Keating's Techniques Were Replicated By Those who Helped Trigger the 2008 Financial Collapse

In those days, his entourage consisted of his personal secretary and her husband (the crowd of admirers had thinned a bit after spending all that time in federal prison). Keating had been released, the beneficiary of an overturned decision on a technicality, and I guessed this was his first big night out. He looked great. More than 70 years old and not an ounce of fat on him. Tall, tan, and thin and telling everyone who cared to listen (and a few who didn't) that he swims 1,500 meters a day.

Charlie sat down as though he owned the place. No one at our table said a word to him, not only because we didn't want anyone to think we were star-struck but because we genuinely had nothing to say. Yet, Charlie looked over at our table and noticed a bottle of chianti I had ordered and commented: "That's a fine wine you've got there." Well, I like a good chianti as much as the next guy, but I would never call it a "fine wine." Still, I understood that, being in prison for so long, even Ripple would taste good to him at that point. So, I poured him a glass, and he replied "Oh, I don't want to sponge off you."

See Also: Charles Keating Was "the Scum of the Earth," Says Porn Titan Larry Flynt

Strange, I thought, that he would consider me offering him a glass of wine as "sponging." I should have known right then and there. It was only later I learned the true definition of that colloquialism as it applied from Mr. Keating to me.

As dinner progressed that evening, the conversation flowed along with the wine. Bottle after bottle was brought to our table. We laughed and joked with Charlie and his crew. Charlie was fond of saying, again and again, "You know, I don't have any money since they took it all away from me." If he was flat broke, I thought, then why was he dining with his team at a pricey Italian restaurant in Phoenix? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to see him taking in the bill of fare at the local Olive Garden if he were truly busted? I didn't ponder that thought too long because the wine was flowing along with my good sense. And, at one momentous point in the evening, Charlie announced, "On the 15th of October we (meaning he and his staff) are eating at Mary Elaine's and you are all invited!"


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40 comments
kevkev
kevkev

When was the funeral?

Who attended the funeral?

Where was are his remains...cremated? buried?

tagurrit
tagurrit

I went to the Fry's food store at 20th street and Camelback some time in the summer of 1997 with my 15 year old son Drew. Standing in the middle of the entryway was none other than Charles Keating. Tall and thin, dressed in expensive casual clothes he looked the picture of the wealthy mogul. I whispered to my son who the man was and to my chagrin my son deliberately bumped into Mr. Keating's elbow. When I asked him why he'd done so he replied,"I wanted to say I'd run into Charles Keating today." I've always admired my son for that!

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I volunteered for Harry Braun's campaigns against McCain.  He ran as a deomcrat - with a SOLAR HYDROGEN agenda back in 1984 when he first ran for congress.  We knew McCain was a piece of crap, a drunk, power hungry, corrupt, and a sex maniac - but the conservatives in this State voted for him cause they were STUPID!   The Dem party didn't support him either.


If we had elected Harry Braun, things would have been a LOT different people - it's your fault.  Keep on voting Republican and you're going to get burned - LITERALLY - I wouldn't be surprised if the atmosphere becomes so weakened with industrial pollution that a small solar flare will wipe it right off this planet in the near future.  A strong ecosystem can withstand this sort of threat from space (e.g., a solar flare) and we can adapt, but not if we have a centralized energy distribution system.

 

https://democracyamendmentusa.net/

Jukes
Jukes

Mr. McWeeney, you've confirmed what I always suspected about that hypocritical slime bucket.  It's hard to imagine that with all that taint on him, John McCain has still been re-elected to the Senate again and again.  In my nine years here I've found that Arizonans don't expect much from their "public servants." 

Reggievv
Reggievv

Oh sorry. Waddell Dam property.

Reggievv
Reggievv

Lincoln Savings, Subordinated Debentures. I remember the ads running in the paper for them. With McSenile flying off to the Bahamas with Charlie. Will Arizona ever get out the lunatic rut into a semi normal world? But I see Dennis DeConcini's name on a building at U of A. It seems every big land developer who raped the State and made millions has to vacuum their conscience with a hospital wing.

royalphoenix
royalphoenix

Good story. I remember the news stories and the standing room only crowd of swindled seniors at his trial. The Keating 5 were all guilt as sin. peace

tcmcweeney
tcmcweeney

Hey, great comments everyone! My first published anything ever! Yeah, it's really my name. Been stuck with with for a long time now. Yeah, it really happened and yeah, the dinner bill was $985- remember- 1997 dollars right?

Well, it was fun telling the story- I hope you got a kick out of it and it is entirely true!

Tim

dogbiter
dogbiter

Oliver, look up McWeeney online; he's real and lives in Mesa.

Robin Denise
Robin Denise

The S&L crisis cost me $350K for work that took 18 months to complete. REITs came into existence Wonder if his good buddy coconspirator Neil Bush will show at the funeral? Criminals all of them. Thanks for writing this - it was reaffirming!

Robin Denise
Robin Denise

Nope. Not one day of RIP. The savings & loan THEFT of thousands of retired people , the number of builders that had to declare bankruptcy due to the immediate response from "bankers" that used the S&L crisis as an excuse to not honor loans for the finishing of residential projects thus rendering people who bought phase I to living in subdivisions that had no roads finishe

Oliver_Clothesoff
Oliver_Clothesoff

"McWeeney" getting "stiffed"? Seriously? The New Times used to be more clever with its April Fools jokes.

Alex Johns
Alex Johns

The guy certainly had some issues, but he freakin' died. Can we give him one week of RIP.

magicmarker_pr
magicmarker_pr

Well, he can rot in hell for all I care. No sympathy.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I was working as an employee at a law firm back in the day and a construction company owner came in to file bankruptcy because Keating had stiffed him on the work he did on the Phoenician.  He said that Keating used the whole morality schtick to cover his obsession with collecting pornography - he had the largest collection of pornography in the world according to this guy.  In addition, at his private parties in his residence, he would break out the collection and encourage his guests to "get busy" with it. I have also heard rumors of he and his cohorts (Read: John McCain and others) going on sex junkets in the Phillipines and other locals around the world.  This guy Keating was probably similar to a lot of the one percenters out there - they have the money to hide their foilables and do.  We inhabitants of this spaceship earth are in trouble if these type of assholes are in charge - AND THEY ARE!

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

Interesting story. Sounds like Keating enjoyed a life of sponging off others, eh?


Baloney
Baloney

I'm calling bullshit on this whole story. Eight people could never have eaten at Mary Elaine's- ever - for $985, period. I should know. I worked there. "McWeeney," huh? Nice try.

keffington11
keffington11

This great read says more about what Charlie Keating was really like than anything I've read. McWeene's tells a good story.

quovadis3
quovadis3

Continental, MDC?  No great loss for the principals.  Neil Bush is still circulating.  His wife threatened to go ballistic.  GHWB made her an offer she couldn't refuse or else.  They all shifted assets into their spouses names and claimed destitution.  Ahh, it's good to be the king.

maryis
maryis

Ah yes, good ol' Charles Keating. IIRC, he gave Mother Theresa a million dollars back in the day before he was found guilty. When I learned that she did not return the money so as to ease the pain of so many of the people who were ruined by his scams and schemes, what little admiration I had for her evaporated.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

Harry Braun is thus far the only scientist, technical analyst and author who has a detailed and interdisciplinary 5-year Phoenix Project plan that will enable a shift from all oil, coal and other toxic fossil and nuclear fuels to Solar Hydrogen and Hemp energy, economic and food production systems that were initially developed in the 1800s.

marcy
marcy

@TommyCollins  


Prior to prison he liked to just swindle folks, after prison he stuck to sponging.

dogbiter
dogbiter

It was six people. and I ate there with six people for way less than that once.

TommyCollins
TommyCollins topcommenter

@Baloney Maybe the $985 was due to the 'former owner' discount? Or perhaps the 'jailbird' discount?


bilgeez
bilgeez

@maryis  Mother Theresa was a judgmental, holier-than-thou, beeotch. She withheld pain meds from women w AIDS because she deemed them to be "sinners", who needed to suffer for their sins; notwithstanding that their "sin" was having sex w their infected husbands who got it from switch hitting w some faggot! She wasnt no saint, that's for sure, if she gets canonized I'll def never go back to the hypocritical Papist Church! So Keating giving her money was from one hypocrite to another. 

marcy
marcy

@ExpertShot  

Harry Braun and you probably have a lot in common.  Is he an off-topic crackpot too?

Jukes
Jukes

@dogbiter AND it was 17 years ago.  You could get a lot for $1,000 back then, even in the finest restaurants.   The menu for Mary Elaine's is online.  The entrees range from $43 to $58.  There is one item marked $90, which is a veal shank.  It seems more than likely that 8 could have dined for $900 without a tip.

Baloney
Baloney

Sorry, no sale. Not buying this story.

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