Print and Go Back Olympics [Print without images]

Monday, July 12, 2004
Family mends rifts, supports Hall

Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The man who was the symbol of America's savings and loan scandals of the 1980s is making a rare public appearance at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, cheering on his grandson.

Charles Keating, now 80, had not seen Gary Hall Jr. compete since high school and wasn't a presence in his life -- in part because Keating served nearly five years of a 12½-year federal prison sentence after being convicted of securities fraud.

A rift also developed between the two, according to Gary Hall Sr.

But Keating was in the stands Sunday night to see the younger Hall, now 29, finish third in the 100-meter freestyle to make his third Olympic team.

For years, the subject of his disgraced grandfather was off-limits with Hall. But time appears to be repairing their estrangement.

"He's a good guy. I'm glad to have him here," Hall said Monday.

Keating was invited to the trials by his daughter, Mary, who is Gary Jr.'s mother. Keating then called Hall to ask his permission.

"I was happy to see that. There's some healing that's going on here," said the elder Hall, an ophthalmologist in Phoenix who also swam in three Olympics. "It was nice to see us kind of coming back. There's been a lot of tears shed."

Keating's corporations, Lincoln Savings & Loan and its parent American Continental Corp., bilked investors, many of them elderly, out of millions of dollars by selling them unsecured "junk" bonds that turned out to be worthless. Taxpayers lost $3.4 billion in the collapse of Lincoln.

Keating was convicted on separate charges in state and federal courts, but his federal convictions were overturned after it was determined that the jury improperly heard about his state court convictions.

In 2000, federal prosecutors accepted Keating's guilty plea to three counts of wire fraud and one count of bankruptcy fraud.

The younger Hall's other grandfather, 90-year-old Richard Hall, also is attending the trials. So is his wife, Elizabeth, whom Hall married three years ago after meeting her in a Phoenix bar.

"Without Elizabeth, Gary wouldn't be here," the elder Hall said. "She is so good for him. She's a dream. She knows how to cook for him, take care of him."

Gary Jr. was diagnosed with Type I diabetes after the 1996 Olympics, and requires as many as eight insulin shots a day.