Thursday, December 18, 2003

Reports are Erpenbeck is living large in south Florida

Around Northern Kentucky

Pat Crowley

Reports are coming out of south Florida that convicted felon Bill Erpenbeck is living the high life while awaiting sentencing for his role in a $33 million bank fraud.

Northern Kentucky residents who have recently been in the Gulf Coast communities of Fort Myers and Naples claim Erpenbeck is building a million-dollar home, driving a luxury car and partying at swanky beachfront resorts.

The rumors really heated up when Erpenbeck and his wife, Marcia, were pictured wearing flashy cocktail attire in the December issue of Naples Illustrated, a glossy magazine that covers the social set.

But Glenn Whitaker, Erpenbeck's Cincinnati-based lawyer, said the claims are exaggerated.

According to Whitaker, the car is Marcia Erpenbeck's, who needs it for her job as a sales associate with a prominent South Florida developer.

The couple is building a house - they lost their Fort Myers condo when the government seized it - but it is "a modest home," Whitaker said. He did not, however, know the price.

And the magazine picture was not recent and was taken while the couple attended a function of The Collier Building Industry's annual awards banquet, which Marcia attended because of her job.

"People can say Bill Erpenbeck has a lot money," Whitaker said. "But that's just not the case. He's turning over the last of his automobiles to the government very shortly."

Erpenbeck pleaded guilty in April to one federal charge of bank fraud for his role in the theft of $33 million that resulted in the demise of his homebuilding company and the destruction of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky. He has yet to be sentenced, though a federal court hearing on his case is scheduled for early January.

SHUT OUT OF FRANKFORT? Contrary to what many GOP supporters thought would happen, Ernie Fletcher, Kentucky's new Republican governor, did not fill any of his cabinet secretary posts with Northern Kentuckians.

A top Northern Kentucky Fletcher operative suggested that qualified people didn't want to give up jobs here and move to Frankfort. And Fletcher will turn to the region that gave him a 25,000-vote margin when he begins making about 1,000 appointments to various boards and commissions.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Charlie Walton, a Florence Republican and the principal at Florence Elementary, confirmed he was approached about possibly joining the administration, but for now he wants to remain an educator and a lawmaker.

"That could change," Walton said, "but for now I'm happy."

THEY SAID IT: "If you're going to build one, you might as well build one for 10,000." - Kentucky Sen. President David Williams, who offered encouraging words - but little hope for funding - about Northern Kentucky University's planned 6,400-seat arena during a recent speech in Covington.


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