Sunday, June 02, 2002

Other Erpenbecks could develop name complex




By Patrick Crowley pcrowley@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Bill Erpenbeck is tired of all the attention. The phone calls from confused homeowners, angry subcontractors and noisy reporters. The odd glances from people he meets. The skepticism he encounters when using a credit card or writing a check.

        He understands that some people want to observe and even confront the man who is the poster boy for a multimillion dollar financial and banking scandal.

        “But I'm not that Bill Erpenbeck,” the 37-year-old auto mechanic from Fort Thomas proclaimed. “I've got nothing to do with the guy or what he did. But try telling that to people after you tell them your name is “Bill Erpenbeck” or they see that name on a credit card.”

STORY ARCHIVE
Click here for all Enquirer reports on Erpenbeck Co.
INVESTIGATION
If you have any additional information on the business dealings of the Erpenbeck Co. or Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky - or on the involvement of any parties not yet identified in our coverage - please email Enquirer business reporter James McNair at jmcnair@enquirer.com or Kentucky Enquirer reporter Patrick Crowley at pcrowley@enquirer.com.
        A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck is a 41-year-old former home builder from Crestview Hills who is under federal investigation for bank fraud.

        No federal charges have been filed, but Mr. Erpenbeck is facing state charges in Boone County for writing a bad check for $258,399. He is being sued by several banks and contractors owed millions of dollars by the Erpenbeck Co., the Edgewood home building company he once ran, as well as being sued by homeowners whose first mortgages weren't paid off.

        The Erpenbeck from Crestview Hills may be a distant relative to Bill Erpenbeck from Fort Thomas, a father of three and a youth soccer coach.

        “I don't know the guy, have nothing to do with him, never met him, knew nothing about him until this whole thing started,” Bill Erpenbeck said. “I just tell people, "No, I'm not that Bill Erpenbeck.' But sometimes, I'm not sure if they believe me.”

        Like two weeks ago, when he was in Lexington for a soccer tournament with The Shooters, the team his 12-year-old daughter, Samantha, plays for and he helps coach.

        “I was watching another game with a friend of mine,” Bill Erpenbeck said. “He introduced me to some people. They just kind of looked at me until I told them they had the wrong Bill Erpenbeck.”

        If a man can have trouble because he has the same name as somebody constantly in the news over allegations of bank fraud, what's it like to be an Erpenbeck — and also to be in the home building business?

        “It's hard to deal with,” said Ray Erpenbeck, A. William Erpenbeck's uncle, an engineer and developer who works with his brothers, Larry and Tom, in two Northern Kentucky development companies — A&K Enterprises and ERPS Inc.

        Those businesses have no affiliation with the Erpenbeck Co. or A. William Erpenbeck, who is the son of Anthony Erpenbeck, the brother of Ray, Larry and Tom Erpenbeck.

        “Most people have no way of distinguishing between the families,” Ray Erpenbeck said. “It's different in the business world. People in the building industry and with the banks know there is a difference.

        “But (most) people hear the name Erpenbeck on the news and they think it's us.”

        So concerned were the brothers that two weeks ago they sent a letter to the 500 people who live in Plantation Pointe, a residential community they are developing along U.S. 42 in Florence.

        “Our concern was that people living in Plantation Pointe ... were beginning to think they were affected by all of this, and since that's not the case we wanted to let them know,” Ray Erpenbeck said.

        Ray Erpenbeck and his brothers have also made a point to let people know A. William Erpenbeck had nothing to do with land donated for a school in Florence named for the Erpenbeck family.

        The land came from Ray Erpenbeck, his brothers and sister and named in honor of their parents, the late Anthony and Marcella Erpenbeck.

        Ray Erpenbeck said he first heard about problems at his nephew's former company “when I read it in the newspaper.”

        “I don't want to speculate, but we've had concerns over the years that they were flying too high, too fast, too quick,” Ray Erpenbeck said. “That doesn't work in this industry.”

        Concerned about the long-term effect of the scandal on the family name is Barbara Erpenbeck, 61. She was married to Ray Erpenbeck's late brother, Robert, who died 11 years ago at the age of 50.

        “The Erpenbecks have been building homes in Northern Kentucky since the 1920s,” Mrs. Erpenbeck said. “I've always taught my children and grandchildren to be proud of the Erpenbeck name, but now it seems like our good name is being taken away.

        “But this is a good family, and while this has been difficult, we'll all get through it.”

       



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