HUMBOLDT - People who had deposited their paychecks in the First National Bank of Humboldt for years suddenly found themselves doing business with the Hawkeye Bank and Trust Co. following a hectic spring weekend in 1982.
At the heart of the abrupt switch was an embezzlement case widely regarded as the largest financial crime in Iowa up to that time. The man convicted in connection with the swindle, Gary V. Lewellyn, 63, died Wednesday.
Lewellyn, a former Humboldt resident, died in Oklahoma City, Okla. A funeral service will be held July 20 at Faith United Methodist Church in Humboldt.
Federal investigators accused Lewellyn of manipulating the stock price of Safeguard Scientific Inc., misappropriating millions of dollars worth of government securities and failing to meet obligations to brokers and dealers, according Messenger files.
His father, Clifford Lewellyn, was the president of the First National Bank when the younger Lewellyn embezzled $16.7 million from it.
Following work by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and bank auditors, the federal government closed that bank on Friday, April 2, 1982. For the next three days, officials of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reviewed the bank's books. They found losses exceeding $16 million.
At the urging of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and U.S. Rep. Berkley Bedell, the FDIC decided to sell the bank instead of liquidating it. Hawkeye Bancorporation bought the property and reopened it as Hawkeye Bank and Trust on Tuesday, April 6, 1982. That same day, an arrest warrant was issued for Lewellyn.
Lewellyn, who was living in West Des Moines, went to Las Vegas while the investigation was going on. He returned to Iowa and on April 21, accompanied by Harold Hughes, a former Iowa governor and United States senator, Lewellyn turned himself in at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids.
He was convicted of embezzlement, mail fraud and making a false statement and served five years in federal prison.
After being released from prison, Lewellyn moved to Texas and started a new business, Performance Nutrition Inc. The company produced a food supplement for athletes and a substance intended to treat attention deficit disorder in children. The company's shareholders fired him in August 1996 and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated the company's products.
He then moved to Oklahoma City.