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Charles Keating, Center of Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90

Charles H. Keating Jr. — the infamous banker who built and lost a financial empire and played a leading role in the costliest savings and loan debacle of the 1980s — has died, his lawyer confirmed to NBC News. He was 90.

"I had the honor to represent him over many years, and I got to see a side of him many others did not. Though his controversies were many, he faced adversity with great dignity, wit and courage," Keating's lawyer, Stephen C. Neal, said in a statement late Tuesday.

Keating's Phoenix-based home construction company, American Continental Corp., bought Lincoln Savings & Loan in 1984. The multimillionaire boosted its worth from $1.1 billion to $5.5 billion in just a four-year period.

But Keating's business crashed amid state and federal convictions for defrauding investors. Keating allegedly fleeced Lincoln customers by selling them $200 million of unsecured "junk" bonds. They became useless when Keating's company went bankrupt.

The failure of the bank cost taxpayers $3.4 billion, according to the New York Times — and Keating's name soon became synonymous with an era of corporate greed and excess.

Keating's convictions on federal racketeering charges were eventually thrown out, and he agreed to a federal plea deal that freed him after nearly five years in prison, according to the Associated Press.

— Daniel Arkin