David Widlak

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Body of missing banker found, say police

Daily Tribune staff photo by David Posavetz
By Gordon Wilczynski
Daily Tribune Staff Writer
Posted: 10/18/10, 12:00 AM EDT |
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This undated photo released by the Macomb County Sheriff's Department in Mount Clemens, Mich., on Sept. 21, shows David and Anne Widlak of Grosse Pointe Farms, David Widlak, 62, is president and chief executive of Community Central Bank Corp. and was reported missing after last being seen at his office Sept. 19 in Mount Clemens. Anne Widlak made a public appeal Tuesday for her husband, if he hears her, to "please come home." Authorities have been searching a river for signs of the missing banker. (AP Photo/Macomb County Sheriff's Department)

The body of missing Mount Clemens banker David Widlak has been found by duck hunters in Lake St. Clair.
Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said an autopsy will be performed this morning by Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz to determine the cause of death.
Hackel said the body has badly decomposed.
"There were no obvious signs on the body that there was any foul play," Hackel said. "I can't speculate at this point how Dave died," said Hackel, an acquaintance of Widlak for some time.

Hackel said the body was found at 7:06 p.m. on Sunday floating at the top of the water in a couple of feet of water. It was found near a Department of Natural Resources lake access site just off Jefferson Avenue between Shook Road and Crocker Avenue.

Hackel said the duck hunters called the sheriff's department and deputies rushed out to the area. A dive team also was summoned to look for any evidence to a crime in the water.

Hackel said the clothing the man the hunters found was wearing the same clothing Widlak wore when he was captured on a surveillance tape when he disappeared from the bank on Sept. 19. Hackel said the body had on Widlak's shoes, pants, belt, shirt, watch, wedding ring, wallet, driver's license and cash.

"I can't speculate what happened to Dave," Hackel said. "Whenever there is a death of this kind we treat it as a homicide."

Hackel said he went to Widlak's home in Grosse Pointe Shores on Sunday night and notified Widlak's wife, Ann and his brother, Paul.

"Everyone was trying to be hopeful that Dave was somewhere alive," Hackel said. "It's very sad. Very, very sad.

"Dave was more than just a banker. He was a husband, father, grandfather, friend."

The body was found four miles from where Widlak was last seen in downtown Mount Clemens.
http://www.dailytribune.com/20101018/body-of-missing-banker-found-say-police

Body of missing MI attorney-turned-banker found
October 19, 2010

Official: Banker David Widlak’s body has no blunt force trauma
Elisha Anderson, Christina Hall and Tammy Stables Battaglia
October 18, 2010

A body found in Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township was positively identified as missing Mt. Clemens bank president and CEO David Widlak, Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said this afternoon.

The county medical examiner determined that there was no blunt force trauma to Widlak’s body, Hackel said.

Widlak’s body was positively identified through dental records. Toxicology tests may take three to four weeks to determine if there was anything in Widlak’s system, Hackel said.

Investigators have not determined the cause and manner of his death as toxicology tests are pending. They have not ruled out if his death is an accident, a suicide or a homicide, Hackel said.

The badly decomposed body was found Sunday evening by two duck hunters on Lake St. Clair, Hackel said in a morning news conference.

Hackel said Widlak’s personal identification was found with the body and clothing on the body matched the description of the banker’s attire on the day he disappeared four weeks ago.

Widlak’s body was spotted 3-5 feet from shore in shallow water near boat ramps at the Clinton River Cut Off Boating Access Site, Hackel said.

Rick Velger, co-owner of Hideaway Harbor, which is just northeast of where the body was found, said the site is busy with people launching boats and estimated between 20 and 30 go in and out on a Saturday, mostly fishermen and duck hunters.

He said he takes boats out about every other day and was on one as recently as Sunday. Velger drove a boat out around 1:30 p.m. and one back around 2 p.m. He has a clear view of the area where the body was when he is on the water, and said he didn’t see anything.

“If something was floating, we’d see it,” Velger said.

Hackel said he has spoken to Widlak’s wife, Anne, and while it wasn’t the outcome she had hoped for, she’s “thankful to know he’s been located.”

Widlak, 62, of Grosse Pointe Farms had last been seen walking out the back door of Community Central Bank in Mt. Clemens on Sept. 19.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office was back on the scene this morning with evidence technicians and divers are in the water searching for more clues.

The scene of the investigation is about 4 miles from where Widlak was last seen.

The Widlaks’ neighbor Margit Jackson said today she feels badly for his family.

“Maybe it gives them closure, or maybe it raises more questions than it answers, especially for his wife,” Jackson said today, as cars came and went from the couple’s colonial tucked away on Old Brook. “It’s sad. It’s a shame.”

The bank released a statement offering condolences to Widlak’s family and saying the bank is operating with no disruptions.

Gail Madziar, vice president for membership and communications for Lansing-based Michigan Bankers Association, said the group was saddened by the news of Widlak’s death.

“He was well respected in the banking community and active in the association, serving as MBA Group Chair for his bank’s region,” Madziar said today. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and the employees and customers at Community Central Bank.”

Sterling Heights lawyer Chuck Turnbull, Widlak’s best man at the banker’s 2004 wedding to Anne Widlak, was at a loss for words when asked what he hopes happens with the investigation into his friend’s death.

“It’s just tragic,” Turnbull, also the president of the Macomb County Bar Association, said this afternoon. He’s known Widlak since they practiced law together 33 years ago. “He’s a great friend and he was a great leader in the southeast Michigan business community. He’s going to be missed.”

Mt. Clemens lawyer Julie Gatti wrote a glowing story about Widlak’s transformation from trial lawyer to bank president for the Macomb County Bar Association. She said today that looking out her office window at Community Central Bank down the street will never be the same.

“Downtown doesn’t feel the same without him,” Gatti said. “I just can’t even get my brain around it. He’s probably one of the last people on earth I thought this could happen to. It just breaks my heart. Downtown Mt. Clemens, the city feels different to me without him in it.”

The last time she saw him, Widlak shared his excitement about a Wayne State University program to bring students from China to take classes in Mt. Clemens satellite classrooms.

“He was talking about 300 students coming to Mt. Clemens and the housing values going up, and he was just so excited about it,” said Gatti, treasurer of the Macomb County Bar Association. “He was just a ball of energy. And always smiling, having all these ideas all the time.”

Community Central Bank Says Body of Missing CEO Clemens Discovered in Lake
Nishad Majmudar
October 18, 2010
Bloomberg.com 
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-18/michigan-lender-says-body-of-missing-chief-found-in-lake-north-of-detroit.html 

Community Central Bank Corp., the lender based in Mount Clemens, Michigan, said police think they have found the body of Chief Executive Officer David Widlak, who went missing last month.

The remains were discovered yesterday evening in Lake St. Clair in Macomb County, 27 miles north of Detroit, according to a company statement today. The bank named Chief Financial Officer Ray Colonius acting CEO Sept. 22. The cause of death hasn’t been determined, the Detroit News reported, citing Sheriff Mark Hackel. Hackel didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

“The staff, management and board of Community Central Bank are deeply saddened to learn of this development,” Colonius said in the statement. “For our customers, Community Central Bank continues to operate with no disruptions under the bank’s executives and staff members. Our succession plan contemplates all circumstances including tragedies such as this.”

The bank, based in a town of about 16,000 people, had $540.3 million in assets as of June 30. The lender, which reported a loss of $14.6 million last year, traded at a peak of $14.55 in February 2005. The stock fell 6.1 percent today to 62 cents in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

Widlak, a licensed attorney, also served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, according to a biography that was previously posted on the company’s website.
http://www.estateofdenial.com/2010/10/19/body-of-missing-mi-lawyer-turned-banker-found/


Cause of missing banker's death unknown after body found in lake

For The Oakland Press/DAVE POSAVETZ Macomb County Sheriff's divers searched the lakeshore in Harrison Township for several hours on Monday looking for additional evidence after the body of missing banker David Widlak was discovered there the night before.

By GORDON WILCZYNSKI and MITCH HOTTS

Posted: 10/18/10, 12:00 AM EDT |

Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel didn't have to wait for dental records to confirm a badly decomposed body found floating face up along the Lake St. Clair shore was that of missing banker David Widlak.

"Once I saw the body in the water, there was no question -- I knew it was him," said Hackel, who was an acquaintance of the former banker.

Dental records on Monday confirmed the corpse was Widlak, a 62-year-old former CEO of Community Central Bank in Mount Clemens and a Grosse Pointe Farms husband, father and grandfather, who had been missing since Sept. 20.

An autopsy conducted by Macomb County Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz indicated there was no blunt force trauma to the body but stopped short of ruling on the cause and manner of death.

Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, which could take up to four weeks to receive, to determine if he had been poisoned or had other harmful substances in his body.

But the discovery of the body raised more questions than it answered in the month-old mystery, such as:

How did Widlak, who was last seen walking out the back door of the bank, arrive at the location where the body was found near Jefferson and Shook in Harrison Township -- a distance of about four miles

Could Widlak, who may have felt pressured about financial troubles at the bank, have been forced to the location or walked there on his own?
How or why did his cell phone activate at close to midnight the night he vanished?

Why had Widlak purchased a semi-automatic handgun, that he left in the drawer of his bank office, a few weeks before he was reported missing?

Investigators say it's possible the full story of what happened to Widlak -- and why -- may never be fully known.

Until toxicology results are known, police say they will treat the case as a homicide until they can prove otherwise, although they acknowledge it's likely he drowned in the lake.

"We have had cases of people simply walking into the open water," Hackel said, adding most suicides are carried out with a handgun, drug overdose, hanging or carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Is this a normal thing? I don't think it's normal. But if it was suicide, you have to wonder what was going through his mind."

The body was found in about two feet of water around 7 p.m. Sunday by a pair of duck hunters whose boat was caught in the weeds at a state Department of Natural Resources boat launch north of the Clinton River Spillway. They called 911.

Sheriff's investigators removed the body Sunday night and then returned to the marshy area with a dive team Monday morning to search the area for four to five hours.

Widlak's wallet, wedding ring, cash, and other personal items were on him, but a hat, jacket and a fanny pack were not located. He was wearing the same clothing he had on when he was captured on surveillance tape when leaving the bank.

Officials believe Widlak entered the water near where the body was found and had been in the same location for the past month.

The area had received a visual search early on in the investigation from Blossom Heath at 10 Mile and Jefferson down to the Clinton River, but police do not believe the body would have been visible from the street.

As a rule of thumb, the body of a drowning victim generally takes three days to rise to the surface, according to sheriff's officials.

Widlak was last seen on a security videotape leaving the back door of Community Central Bank in downtown Mount Clemens at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19. His car was in the parking lot.

His cell phone was activated sometime around midnight that day. The cell phone provider indicated the call came from St. Clair Shores, a few miles south of where the body was found.

The sheriff said he could not speculate on what caused the phone to activate, whether it was a battery reaction to entering the water or if Widlak was making a last-minute call for help.

The sheriff and two detectives went to Widlak's home in Grosse Pointe Farms on Sunday night and notified Widlak's wife, Anne, and his brother, Paul, of their findings. He said the family was very distraught and upset, but was relieved the body had been found.

The family issued a statement on Monday thanking the community for the support people have shown them. They also urged the sheriff's office to "conduct a complete investigation" to answer all of the questions surrounding Widlak's death.

Family members have been quoted as saying they still suspect foul play in the case, adding Widlak had recently expressed concern about some potential new investors in the bank.

Widlak, who reportedly had purchased a gun in the weeks before his death that he kept in an office drawer, had been trying to line up new investors to build up the local lender's capital reserves in recent months.

Gebran Anton, a board member at the bank, last month told the Macomb Daily that Widlak had been aggressively "turning over every rock" to bolster the bank's finances. Anton said it was possible that the extensive plan for new venture capital into the bank's portfolio had disintegrated.

The bank's stock, traded on the NASDAQ exchange, fell 6 percent on NASDAQ Monday, to 62 cents a share. In comparison, as recently as September 2005, when the housing market was still strong, Community Central's shares were trading for more than $13.

Community Central issued a statement offering condolences to Widlak's family and assuring customers that the facility "continues to operate with no disruptions under the bank's executives and staff members."

Likewise, the state's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation Commissioner Ken Ross in a statement said Widlak's legacy "as a leader in his hometown and as a strong advocate for Michigan community banks will long be remembered."
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20101018/cause-of-missing-bankers-death-unknown-after-body-found-in-lake

Banker's body found, cause of death unknown

By Gordon Wilczynski and Mitch Hotts
Macomb Daily Staff Writers

Posted: 10/18/10, 12:01 AM EDT | Updated: on 10/18/2010
0 Comments

Discovery deepens month-old mystery about David Widlak

Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel didn't have to wait for dental records to confirm a badly decomposed body found floating face up along the Lake St. Clair shore was that of missing banker David Widlak.

"Once I saw the body in the water, there was no question -- I knew it was him," said Hackel, who was an acquaintance of the former banker.

Dental records on Monday confirmed the corpse was Widlak, a 62-year-old former CEO of Community Central Bank in Mount Clemens and a Grosse Pointe Farms husband, father and grandfather, who had been missing since Sept. 20.

An autopsy conducted by Macomb County Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz indicated there was no blunt force trauma to the body but stopped short of ruling on the cause and manner of death.

Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, which could take up to four weeks to receive, to determine if he had been poisoned or had other harmful substances in his body.

But the discovery of the body raised more questions than it answered in the month-old mystery, such as:

How did Widlak, who was last seen walking out the back door of the bank, arrive at the location where the body was found near Jefferson and Shook in Harrison Township -- a distance of about four miles?

Could Widlak, who may have felt pressured about financial troubles at the bank, have been forced to the location or walked there on his own?

How or why did his cell phone activate at close to midnight the night he vanished?

Why had Widlak purchased a semi-automatic handgun, that he left in the drawer of his bank office, a few weeks before he was reported missing?

Investigators say it's possible the full story of what happened to Widlak-- and why -- may never be fully known.

Until toxicology results are known, police say they will treat the case as a homicide until they can prove otherwise, although they acknowledge it's likely he drowned in the lake.

"We have had cases of people simply walking into the open water," Hackel said, adding most suicides are carried out with a handgun, drug overdose, hanging or carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Is this a normal thing? I don't think it's normal. But if it was suicide, you have to wonder what was going through his mind."

The body was found in about two feet of water around 7 p.m. Sunday by a pair of duck hunters whose boat was caught in the weeds at a state Department of Natural Resources boat launch north of the Clinton River Spillway. They called 911.

Sheriff's investigators removed the body Sunday night and then returned to the marshy area with a dive team Monday morning to search the area for four to five hours.

Widlak's wallet, wedding ring, cash, and other personal items were on him, but a hat, jacket and a fanny pack were not located. He was wearing the same clothing he had on when he was captured on surveillance tape when leaving the bank.

Officials believe Widlak entered the water near where the body was found and had been in the same location for the past month.

The area had received a visual search early on in the investigation from Blossom Heath at 10 Mile and Jefferson down to the Clinton River, but police do not believe the body would have been visible from the street.

As a rule of thumb, the body of drowning victims generally takes three days to rise to the surface, according to sheriff's officials.

Widlak was last seen on a security videotape leaving the back door of Community Central Bank in downtown Mount Clemens at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19. His car was in the parking lot.

His cell phone was activated sometime around midnight that day. The cell phone provider indicated the call came from St. Clair Shores, a few miles south of where the body was found.

The sheriff said he could not speculate on what caused the phone to activate, whether it was a battery reaction to entering the water or if Widlak was making a last-minute call for help.

The sheriff and two detectives went to Widlak's home in Grosse Pointe Farms on Sunday night and notified Widlak's wife, Anne, and his brother, Paul, of their findings. He said the family was very distraught and upset, but was relieved the body had been found.

The family issued a statement on Monday thanking the community for the support people have shown them. They also urged the sheriff's office to "conduct a complete investigation" to answer all of the questions surrounding Widlak's death.

Family members have been quoted as saying they still suspect foul play in the case, adding Widlak had recently expressed concern about some potential new investors in the bank.

Widlak, who reportedly had purchased a gun in the weeks before his death that he kept in an office drawer, had been trying to line up new investors to build up the local lender's capital reserves in recent months.

Gebran Anton, a board member at the bank, last month told the Macomb Daily that Widlak had been aggressively "turning over every rock" to bolster the bank's finances. Anton said it was possible that the extensive plan for new venture capital into the bank's portfolio had disintegrated.

The bank's stock, traded on the NASDAQ exchange, fell 6 percent on NASDAQ Monday, to 62 cents a share. In comparison, as recently as September 2005, when the housing market was still strong, Community Central's shares were trading for more than $13.

Community Central issued a statement offering condolences to Widlak's family.

Likewise, the state's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation Commissioner Ken Ross in a statement said Widlak's legacy "as a leader in his hometown and as a strong advocate for Michigan community banks will long be remembered."

In the days after Widlak's disappearance, the bank's board appointed Ray Colonius, the bank's former chief financial officer, as the interim CEO.

On Monday, bank spokesman Don Mann said the board has not yet decided on whether to keep Colonius in that position or conduct a search for a successor.

Mann, the state's former top bank regulator, continued to maintain Widlak was never fired from his position as a CEO, which he had held since 2006.

Mann would not comment on whether Widlak was still on the payroll after he went missing.

http://www.macombdaily.com/article/MD/20101018/NEWS/310189970


May 03, 2011 12:00 pm
Community Central Bank: A shut down, a rebirth and a standing ovation
Tom Henderson
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David Widlak
Employees of Mt. Clemens-based Community Central Bank got the news they were expecting Friday, April 29, and two days later, they got better news than they could have hoped for.

The bank had long been hemorrhaging red ink, hadn't bothered filing its annual report, hadn't paid its listing fee to the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, had stopped looking for investors willing to pony up the millions it would have taken to keep regulators at bay. It was, as were its employees, awaiting the inevitable.

Which came a minute or two after 6 p.m., when representatives from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Talmer Bank and Trust and Kevin Clinton, in just his 12th day on the job as the new commissioner of the state's Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, marched into the downtown headquarters and announced the bank, which had been founded in 1996, was no more.

Earlier in the day, Clinton got a court order naming the FDIC as receiver, and the FDIC turned over the keys, the books and the employees over to David Provost, the president and CEO at Troy-based Talmer, until recently known as First Michigan Bank.

(Having bought one distressed bank in Wisconsin and with plans to expand sooner rather than later into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, the bank needed a name that didn't include "Michigan" in the title. Talmer is a combination the first name of one of Provost's grandfathers, Talmage, and the first name of one of the grandfather's of bank holding company chairman Gary Torgow, Merzon.)

Community Central's four branches opened on time Saturday morning, with temporary black and white signs proclaiming the Talmer name.

Sunday, Community Central's employees gathered at the Somerset Inn in Troy, next door to Talmer's headquarters.

"There's apprehension. They're walking in, not knowing if things are going to end well," said Provost.

The 66 employees got some snacks and pop and then the good news. "We assured them their benefits would remain the same, the seniority would remain the same, and their vacations would remain the same. And we told them that they didn't have to reapply for their jobs," said Provost.

He got a standing ovation.

Three in senior management, including Ray Colonius, the CFO who was pressed into CEO duty when David Widlak went missing last September, were not retained.

Talmer was the winning, and likely only, bidder for Community Central's assets, which were about $476.3 million as of Dec. 31. It also assumed some $385.4 million in total deposits.

But the bid doesn't mean all the assets end up as Talmer's. The bid process includes what is termed a loss-share agreement between Talmer and the FDIC, which requires the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund to assume most of the losses from bad loans.

And the best guess by the feds is that despite years of writing off bad loans, Community Central still had plenty on the books. The FDIC estimates that the eventual cost to the fund at $183.2 million, which includes some overhead costs but which is predominantly due to uncollectible loans.

That's a stunning total, both as a percentage of total assets, and considering the bank's total share value had fallen below $1 million.

No wonder investors were impossible to come by.

David Provost
Community Central's shutdown, and the estimate by the FDIC that there was still so much bad stuff on its books, has led to renewed speculation about the mysterious disappearance of Widlak last September.

Last seen walking away from the bank after a Sunday at the office, where he reportedly worked on a pitch to investors to raise money, Widlak was found a month later, floating near a boat ramp on Lake St. Clair, a gunshot victim.

His family and friends were sure it had to be foul play, the cheerful, upbeat, family-focused banker they knew incapable of leaving his wife, kids and grandkids that way.

Police and the Macomb County medical examiner, Daniel Spitz, couldn't rule out murder but said the evidence pointed to suicide. They no doubt feel the evidence points even more strongly, now, to that conclusion.

Me? I considered Widlak a friend but don't pretend to have known him well enough to make more than a guess. At the time his body was found, I thought it impossible he killed himself. Now? I don't know. You'd have to think he knew there were a lot of loans still heading south, more than anyone suspected. Enough to make any investment in the bank about as bad an investment as you could make.

I remember the first lunch I had with Dave, back in the fall of 2006, just after the Tigers had been swept in the World Series. Things were still booming for community banks, in general and for his, in particular.

The year before, Widlak had bought River Place Financial Corp., which managed the Stroh family wealth, and created River Place Trust as the trust and wealth management division of the bank. (One of his star recruits, Anne McIntyre, would be named a Crain's 40 under 40 in 2007 for running the trust.)

Widlak told me he had put the feelers out to other local bankers, wanting to make some acquisitions and grow Community Central's footprint.

But there were already warning signs on the horizon. Or, in at least one case, much closer that the horizon.

Just weeks before our lunch, a friend from high school had shocked me when she told me she was moving to Texas to move in with one of her grown children. Her husband, a builder of high end spec homes in Macomb County, had lost his business.

To his surprise, the sale of his homes first slowed, then stopped. As they'd slowed, he'd kept his crews working as long as he could, not wanting to lay them off. Sooner than he could have imagined, he was broke and decided to move.

I asked Widlak, off the record, if by any chance my friend's husband had been a customer. "Overnight, he went from being my best customer to my worst nightmare," said Widlak.

First clue Widlak had that things weren't still humming for the builder, who had always paid his loans and had great credit? When he gave Widlak a bunch of house keys and told him he was out of business.

"We took a mid-seven-figure loss," said Widlak.

My guess is, by the time September 2010 rolled around, Widlak had seen a lot of worse nightmares, and knew there were a lot of worse nightmares still ahead.
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20110503/BLOG007/110509971/community-central-bank-a-shut-down-a-rebirth-and-a-standing-ovation

Press Release: Stroh Family Private Bank to Merge into Community Central Bank
Published
February 16 2005, 2:00am EST
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MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich., Feb. 16 — Community Central Bank Corporation announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire River Place Financial Corp. Following the acquisition, River Place Financial Corp. will be merged into Community Central Bank, CCBD's wholly owned subsidiary. Stockholders of River Place may elect to receive cash or stock of CCBD, with the requirement that at least 80% of the total consideration be paid in CCBD common stock.

River Place Financial Corp. is a private bank wholly owned by the descendants of Julius Stroh, founder of The Stroh Brewery Company. River Place Financial was established in 1983 to manage the private banking and trust needs of the Stroh family; and trusts managed by its trust department owned and controlled Stroh Brewery until its sale in 1999. Since the sale of Stroh Brewery, River Place Financial's trust department has ...
https://www.americanbanker.com/news/press-release-stroh-family-private-bank-to-merge-into-community-central-bank