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Obituary: David Paul, former chairman of Miami CentTrust, dies at age 82

A 1993 1993 Miami Herald file shows former CenTrust chairman David Paul in an office at The Grand in Miami.

A 1993 1993 Miami Herald file shows former CenTrust chairman David Paul in an office at The Grand in Miami.

Miami Herald fil

David Lewis Paul – the famously lavish, brilliant detail-oriented founder of CentTrust Bank in Miami, whose dizzying fall stood out as one of the most notorious cases of the late-1980s savings and loan crisis – has died, his family said. He was 82.

Paul died Tuesday morning at a Manhattan hospital from COVID-related complications, his daughter Deanna Paul said.

In 1992, federal prosecutors charged Paul, chairman of Miami’s CentTrust Savings Bank, with 69 cases of tax evasion and use of CenTrust’s money for personal gain, namely the $ 3.2 million in funds spent on his home on La Gorce Island, according to the Miami Herald. reports.

Paul also pleaded guilty to 29 violations of securities laws as extortion and lying to regulators. The allegations were primarily about CenTrust’s financial transactions with other scandal-ridden institutions, “including the junk-bond powerhouse Drexel Burnham Lambert and the rogue statistician Bank of Credit and Commerce International, founded by a Pakistani financier,” according to the Herald.

In 1993, he was convicted of 68 counts of bank fraud and the 29 violations of securities laws and sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Federal Correctional Institution in southwest Miami-Dade.

“His final sentence at the time was among the longest given to a white-collar criminal in American history,” the Herald reported.

“I would say that 75 to 80% of the people I used to hang out with I never hear from,” Paul told the Herald in a 2002 federal prison interview.

“I think I’m a better person for having been through this,” Paul said in the interview. “But there are other ways to get there.”

Miami Beach roots

Born in Miami Beach on May 1, 1939, Paul moved with his family to New York City as a child. His father, Isadore, had founded a chain of dry cleaners and died when his son was 10 years old.

Paul later attended Cheshire Academy in Connecticut, received his bachelor’s degree from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, and both earned his master’s degrees in business administration law from Columbia University.

In 1983, Paul returned to Miami Beach and took over a deficient frugality called Dade Savings across the dam and renamed it CenTrust. Housed in its famous IM Pei-designed CentTrust Tower building (now Miami Tower), the bank would see its facade become a national image through broadcasts of NBC’s groundbreaking police show Friday night, “Miami Vice.” The series ran for five seasons from 1984 to 1989.

Eye for detail

Pei designed the building, but it was Paul who turned the CentTrust Tower into one of Miami’s most extravagant storefronts for those walking through the front doors.

“You meet a lot of people who know a little about a lot of things. David Paul knew a lot about many things, ”added his friend and former colleague at CenTrust, Lee Brian Schrager, who went on to found the popular Food Networks South Beach Wine & Food Festival a decade later in 2002.

Schrager became executive vice president of administrative services at CenTrust in 1987 and worked with Paul until the bank’s public collapse in the early 1990s. Among Schrager’s roles, he was in charge of all purchases and purchases for the executive dining room.

And his friend was an ingenious teacher. “Rough and harsh,” at times, to be sure, Schrager said. But he had an eye for detail.

“I probably learned more about luxury, and not just luxury, but a luxury lifestyle, from David, as I did from someone,” Schrager said. “He just knew all the fine details of linen, porcelain, crystal, glassware. I will never forget to travel with him to France to buy linen and learn how to hang linen properly. I never even knew about it.

Schrager recalls walking around the lobby of the CentTrust tower before it opened to the public when Paul inspected the work. Paul walked on the marble floors, marking stains with yellow sticky dots. He would use the markings to notice stains. He insisted that pieces of marble that did not meet his approval be removed.

CenTrust’s offices reportedly had gold-plated plumbing and gold leaf ceilings and a million-dollar Italian marble staircase. According to Herald reports, Paul collected a $ 30 million collection of Old Master paintings for CenTrust’s executive suite. The centerpiece was a $ 13.2 million Rubens that ended up hanging in Paul’s mansion.

“He really had the most extraordinary sense of detail. And he really just knew about fine, fine, entertaining and how to do it right,” Schrager said.

Schrager remembers that his phone rang at 6 Miami time. At the other end, Paul from the home of the French ambassador in Paris. He loved the chefs, he told Schrager, and had a grand idea of ​​flying six of the oh-so-picky French chefs to Miami to serve for a grand private charity dinner that Paul had planned.

Paul’s charitable interests

Schrager also credits Paul for helping bring the New World Symphony to Miami. When Michael Tilson Thomas was first hired to lead the new symphony, he lived for a time in a guesthouse at the home of Paul and his then-wife Sandra.

During the CentTrust years, Paul reportedly also donated $ 500,000 to the University of Miami and $ 100,000 to Barry University in addition to being on the board of Jackson Memorial Hospital.

A daughter’s acceptance and love

Paul’s children at this time refused to discuss their father’s death.

His daughter Deanna, a former New York City prosecutor, became a reporter for The Washington Post. She wrote a touching feature about her relationship with her father for Posten in 2020, after they had reconciled after his release from prison in 2004.

“I struggled with the stigma of having an inmate father, and my attitude towards him changed,” she wrote in her essay entitled, “When my father went to jail, I wrote him off. We found a way back together. “

Deanna Paul closed her Post feature as follows:

In 2014, after I started studying my father’s legal history and learned to see his imprisonment more sympathetically, I wrote an e-mail to him – to remind him that I also always thought of him and to tell him, how much I had come to regret the distance I had kept. “I am so proud to call you my father. I admire you,” I said to him. “For your love, support, resilience and guidance, I am eternally grateful. And know that I always love you with all my heart. “

A familiar ping soon bounced off my phone. My dad had emailed a reply: “WOW… Nothing to say except that I’m proud of you and love love love you… Love dad.”

Survivors, services

In addition to his daughter Deanna, Paul is survived by his sons Michael and David, his brother Robert, four grandchildren and his longtime companion, Fritzie. He will be buried in New York.

This story was originally published 19 January 2022 20:03.

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Miami Herald Real Time / Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, winner of the Media Excellence Awards 2017, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal authorities and general assignments. He started his career in the Features section of the Miami Herald in 1991.
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