Enquirer Special Section

Bill Erpenbeck
Building giant falls in scandal
The April 2002 collapse of the Erpenbeck Co. caused financial havoc for area homebuyers, subcontractors and banks. Three company employees, including former president Bill Erpenbeck, have pleaded guilty to bank fraud and are assisting the federal investigation.
  • A. William Erpenbeck bio
  • List of communities
  • Ohio statutes
E N Q U I R E R   S T O R Y   A R C H I V E

March 25: Erpenbecks switching to guilty please
Bill and Tony Erpenbeck notified federal authorities Wednesday that they will plead guilty to the witness-tampering charges that put them in jail Feb. 5.

March 20: Sobbing Erpenbeck apologizes
Convicted swindler Bill Erpenbeck stood behind a courtroom podium Friday and gave a sobbing apology for the crime he committed.

March 18: Erpenbeck's victims get their say
For a couple dozen Greater Cincinnati residents, a hearing in federal court Friday morning will give them the opportunity to tell a judge how they were hurt by the Erpenbeck bank fraud scheme.

March 17: Timing of Erpenbeck deal draws scrutiny
Bankruptcy investigators have found another twist in the collapse of the Erpenbeck family companies, and this one may pay off for creditors.

March 9: Investigators turn to bankers
With Bill Erpenbeck set to be sentenced March 29 on a federal bank fraud charge, prosecutors appear to be preparing their case against John Finnan and Marc Menne, former officers of the Northern Kentucky bank associated with the Erpenbeck scheme.

Feb. 24: Erpenbeck's money tracked
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee said he will ask that $232,000 in brokerage funds held by Tony Erpenbeck be placed under the trustee's control.

Feb. 17: Auction opens on Erpenbeck assets
The online auction of items seized from convicted swindler Bill Erpenbeck started Monday with robust bidding for Erpenbeck's Rolex watch and his wife's diamond necklace.

Feb. 13: Erpenbeck prosecutors to go for maximum sentence
Federal prosecutors are expected to argue this morning that the former home builder deserves the maximum prison sentence of 30 years for his bank fraud conviction.

Feb. 12: Creditors move on Erpenbeck
Three of Tony Erpenbeck's creditors want him declared bankrupt.

Feb. 11: Fraud case fine, FBI says
The government's fraud investigation of two former Northern Kentucky bankers will not be weakened by the latest criminal charge against its most visible witness an FBI spokesman said.

Feb. 10: Facade of success hid strife in family
The demise of the Erpenbeck home-building empire stemmed from a desire to appear successful, a facade of family unity and, ultimately, a female member's backlash against a male-dominated hierarchy.

Feb. 7: FBI sting snags Erpenbeck, dad
Bitten by their own words in conversations overheard and taped by the FBI, former homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck and his father were jailed without bond Friday on charges they asked a government witness to give less-damaging testimony against Bill Erpenbeck in a sentencing hearing.
Spiegel appointed to replace Dlott
Q&A: Obstruction of justice
The FBI affidavit

Jan. 29: Erpenbeck items to sell on Internet
The last of Bill Erpenbeck's family possessions seized by the FBI—including a BMW convertible, autographed Washington Redskins jerseys and jewelry—will be auctioned off on the Internet.

Jan. 28: Erpenbeck tries to avoid prison
Facing years in prison for defrauding banks, home buyers and subcontractors, former home builder Bill Erpenbeck is suggesting that he instead be sentenced to probation, house arrest or to a federal halfway house.


Sept. 26: Peoples Bank won $5 million payout
Forced out of business in 2002 by the collapse of the Erpenbeck Co., Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky received $5 million in insurance payments after its demise through a settlement with its carrier, the lawyer for the surviving bank holding company said.

Sept. 24: Erpenbeck bailout call taped
Taped telephone conversations appear to confirm an FBI allegation that former bank president John Finnan arranged an emergency $4 million loan for the financially strapped Erpenbeck Co. without the approval of the bank's directors.

Sept. 10: Ex-banker denies fraud role
A year after being ousted from his job, former Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky president John Finnan said in a new court filing that he did not take part in home builder Bill Erpenbeck's $33 million bank-fraud scheme.

July 15: Erpenbeck tape used in lawsuit
On the eve of the collapse of the Erpenbeck Co. and Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky last year, former homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck was already cozying up to federal investigators with the secretly recorded comments of his longtime friend and banker at Peoples, John Finnan.

July 8: Erpenbeck figure pleads guilty
Standing before a judge and fighting back tears, former Erpenbeck Co. employee Michelle Marksberry pleaded guilty to a single federal criminal charge for her pivotal role in the $33 million fraud.

April 11: Prosecutors turn to Erpenbeck employees
With Bill Erpenbeck pleading guilty to fraud and joining the prosecution, federal authorities are now focusing on four other people believed to have played roles in the $34 million scheme, sources said.

April 11: Dlott-Chesley tie isn't seen as conflict
Bill Erpenbeck's criminal case has landed in the courtroom of a federal judge whose husband is familiar with the Erpenbeck scandal.

April 10: Erpenbeck admits to bank fraud
Former Northern Kentucky home builder Bill Erpenbeck pleaded guilty to a single count of federal bank fraud after agreeing to a plea deal that calls for him to help convict accomplices and repay at least $27 million in damages - then spend up to 30 years in prison.

April 3: Erpenbeck offered plea deal
More than a year after the FBI opened a bank-fraud investigation of his defunct home-building company, the government has sent Bill Erpenbeck a proposed plea-bargain agreement, sources close to the year-old investigation said.

Mar. 24: Editorial: Class-action settlement
The long Erpenbeck nightmare for 132 homeowners with liens against their new homes is about to end.

Mar. 19: Erpenbeck items net $147,000
Strip the contents from a millionaire homebuilder's million-dollar home and, in A. William "Bill" Erpenbeck's case, you end up with $147,000.

Mar. 18: Deal clears Erpenbeck homes
Almost a year after the Erpenbeck Co. scandal was uncovered, 132 homeowners stung by the company are close to having bank liens released from their homes.

Mar. 16: Erpenbeck home nets $1.2 million
Payback time finally came for insolvent homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck, as his opulent Crestview Hills home and its furnishings were sold at auction.

Mar. 14: Erpenbeck sale draws big interest
Bill Erpenbeck's home and its contents go on the auction block Saturday.

Mar. 11: Erpenbeck bill to die without vote
A squabble between a Northern Kentucky Republican state lawmakers and GOP leadership over a tax increase helped kill a bill designed to protect homeowners and banks from homebuilding scandals like the Erpenbeck debacle.

Feb. 21: Erpenbeck house brimming with items
The 9,000-square-foot home of former developer Bill Erpenbeck appears occupied, even though Erpenbeck and his family left last May. Soon, the home and most of its contents will be sold to pay off creditors.

Feb. 12: Erpenbeck settlement quickened
Concerned with the sluggish payoff of mortgages on about 100 Erpenbeck Co. homes, a Boone County judge gave approval to a plan designed to speed up the settlement.

Jan. 25: Erpenbeck home might be auctioned
It was an architectural showcase in 1993, but A. William ("Bill") Erpenbeck's mansion might soon be marketed as distressed property.

Jan. 16: Erpenbeck loan payoff drags out
Banks and title insurance companies squabbling over a $16.8 million tab to satisfy 211 home loans left unpaid by the Erpenbeck Co. are heading to mediation to discuss sharing the cost.

Jan. 15: Grand jury studies Erpenbeck papers
A federal grand jury in wading into the banking transactions surrounding the collapse of the Erpenbeck Co., studying events that investigators suspect may have amounted to fraud.


Dec. 22: No holiday from fraud
Many questions are still being asked eight months after the collapse of the Erpenbeck Co. A legion of banks, subcontractors, home buyers and other creditors now fight over the company's carcass.

Dec. 22: Legislators move to fix home-buying practices
Legislators in Ohio and Kentucky are proposing new laws designed to prevent another Erpenbeck-type scandal.

Nov. 25: Bank of Kentucky survived bid war
When it became obvious that Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky would not be able to survive on its own last summer, at least four regional banks went after the Crestview Hills banking company.

Nov. 24: Erpenbeck principals offered plea deals
Federal prosecutors are sending draft plea-bargain agreements to some of the 10 or so people likely to be charged with a crime in the 8-month-old case, a government source said.

Nov. 23: Erpenbeck on stand, says little
Publicly swearing in for the first time since his Erpenbeck Co. flamed out in April, A. William "Bill" Erpenbeck took the witness stand, an oath and the Fifth.

Nov. 19: Peoples sells assets to Bank of Kentucky
Eight months after discovering that its biggest borrower was in serious trouble, Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky won shareholder approval for a transaction that will take it out of the banking business by the end of the week.

Nov. 16: Judge approves Erpenbeck deal
Boone County Circuit Judge Jay Bamberger eased the pain of 210 Erpenbeck Co. homebuyers by ratifying a settlement that clears the way for the removal of $16.8 million in mortgages from their homes.

Nov. 12: Another suit filed against Peoples
As Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky prepares to leave the banking business and liquidate its remaining assets, a Florence law firm is asking that the bank's final disbursements be decided by a court-appointed receiver.

Nov. 9: Peoples Bank's final payout estimated
After the sale and liquidation of the operations of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky are completed, Peoples' investors will essentially get about the same amount they invested in the bank when it opened 10 years ago.

Oct. 26: Bank aims to recoup $14M loan
Like several other Kentucky banks trying to salvage their money from the Erpenbeck Co. ruins, Frankfort's largest bank has begun taking legal steps to repossess and sell about $14 million worth of property in Kenton and Boone counties.

Oct. 23: Did Bill ever leave home without it?
Former home builder A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck owes $353,473 on his American Express Rewards Plus Gold Card.

Oct. 17: Erpenbeck agrees not to sell assets
Averting a confrontation Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, insolvent home builder A. William "Bill" Erpenbeck agreed not to sell any assets that could be liquidated to pay back his creditors.

Oct. 12: Erpenbeck's a traveling man
Bill Erpenbeck — in Cuba? So claims the lawyer appointed to represent creditors in Mr. Erpenbeck's bankruptcy case.

Oct. 9: Erpenbeck spending a concern
A court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy case against A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck said he will ask for an order prohibiting the home builder from spending money on frivolous pursuits such as his recent “carousing” in Key West, Fla.

Sept. 28: Suit: U.S. Bank knew builder's problems
Toward the end of 2001, at least one major bank knew the Erpenbeck Co. was engaging in transactions that could have a devastating effect on its customers, a lawyer has charged.

Sept. 28: Payback fund made in Erpenbeck case
For 211 people with double mortgages on the homes they bought from the Erpenbeck Co., the nightmare is almost over.

Sept. 20: Regulator: Peoples fraud worst
Kentucky's top banking regulator says the Erpenbeck-Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky loan fiasco could be the biggest case of bank fraud in the commonwealth's history.

Sept. 20: Shareholders seek class-action status against bank
Already buffeted by lawsuits from homebuyers, contractors and banks, Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky must now contend with a lawsuit from its shareholders.

Sept. 17: CEO leaving Bank of Northern Ky.
The Fort Mitchell bank trying to seize Bill Erpenbeck's mansion over a $400,000 loan default is in the market for a new president.

Sept. 17: Home closings may see changes
Kentucky property closings would be more tightly regulated under a series of recommendations from the homebuilding industry drafted following the Erpenbeck Co. financial scandal.

Sept. 13: Erpenbeck loans 'unperforming'
More than a dozen Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana banks that left small-town confines to help finance Erpenbeck Co. housing developments in Greater Cincinnati are setting aside millions of dollars to cover potential losses.

Sept. 12: Bank computes Erpenbeck losses
Heavy ties to the insolvent Erpenbeck home-building empire have cost Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky more than $12 million in pretax earnings.

Sept. 5: FBI: Bank execs ran loan scam
An FBI affidavit accuses the ousted top two executives of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky of engaging in a property-buying scheme that duped three other banks into loaning more money than the homes were worth — and put money in their pockets.

Aug. 27: Bad-check charge against Erpenbeck dismissed
Embattled home builder Bill Erpenbeck won a legal victory when a Boone County judge dismissed the felony bad check charge he was facing.

Aug. 24: Ex-People's exec selling his home
Former Peoples Bank executive Marc Menne, under federal investigation for his role in the Erpenbeck Co. scandal, has found a buyer for his $600,000 Northern Kentucky home.

Aug. 23: Homeowners to receive relief
The 211 homeowners caught up in the Erpenbeck Co. scandal and left without clear title to their property should have construction liens on their homes released before the end of the year.

Aug. 16: Rural banks get their slices
From as far away as Pikeville, Corbin and Middlesboro, bankers hungry for a slice of the big-city real estate development pie threw $30 million into The Erpenbeck Co. Now they want their money back.

Aug. 14: Erpenbeck homes face foreclosure
An eastern Kentucky bank has filed foreclosure actions on two homes built by the Erpenbeck Co. in Boone County.

Aug. 11: Erpenbeck cash buyers sue
They say they're the overlooked victims, unwitting consumers who paid cash for their Erpenbeck-built homes and condos. So an estimated 20 to 25 cash-buyers have filed their own class-action lawsuit to have banks release the liens on their homes.

Aug. 8: Ousted bank exec copes
Four months ago, Marc Menne was a top bank executive, a community activist and local business leader. Today's he unemployed, embroiled in the Erpenbeck scandal, and considering a new career in the landscaping business.

Aug. 7: Bank shareholders take a hit
Peoples Bank's shareholders could end up seeing their stock, once selling at nearly $40 a share, drop to $8.

Aug. 7: Check cutters: Not our fault
While banks embroiled in the Erpenbeck scandal haggle over $16.8 million in missing cash from home-sale closings, title companies want to be absolved of wrongdoing.

Aug. 1: More names emerge in investigation
While Bill Erpenbeck and former Peoples Bank execs John Finnan and Marc Menne have borne the brunt of publicity, the FBI has met with or is asking about at least seven other people — five of them Erpenbeck family members — and is evaluating their roles at what was the Tristate's third-largest home builder.

July 31: Erpenbeck sued for company debts
Three contracting firms owed more than $400,000 by the Erpenbeck Co. took the extraordinary legal step of banding together to force Bill Erpenbeck into personal bankruptcy.

July 29: Growth key to Peoples Bank purchase
Robert Zapp expects Peoples Bank will bring higher profits for Bank of Kentucky investors.

July 25: Home buyers celebrate bank sale
Charles and Sherry Mitchell are happy homeowners. As part of its asset sale to Bank of Kentucky, Peoples Bank will pay off Erpenbeck loans on the Mitchells' house and 208 others.

July 24: Peoples sells to Bank of Kentucky
Conceding its vulnerability in the Erpenbeck scandal, Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky has signed an asset-sale deal that will put the company out of business and give its branches, employees and customers to the Bank of Kentucky.

July 24: Analysis: Peoples' decision was its only choice
Given the dark cloud cast by the Erpenbeck Co. fiasco, directors at Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky essentially had one choice: Sell most of the bank to one of its largest Tristate rivals.

July 23: Peoples Bank may be sold
The directors of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, facing millions of dollars of liability due to the Erpenbeck scandal, met Monday night to discuss selling or merging the bank.

July 19: Erpenbeck may plead guilty
Bill Erpenbeck's lawyer said the embattled home builder is dangling a guilty plea to federal prosecutors who are investigating him and others for bank fraud.

July 17: Peoples Bank says no '02 profit
Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky expects to make no money in 2002 because of loan writeoffs, legal expenses and the need to maintain its financial underpinnings in the wake of the Erpenbeck fiasco, bank president Merwin Grayson said after a special meeting of shareholders.

July 16: Peoples officers call shareholders meeting
For the first time since the eruption of the $107 million Erpenbeck Co. scandal, shareholders of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky will get the chance tonight to quiz top officers about the bank's financial condition and the cost of its relationship with the insolvent home builder.

July 12: Title insurance now common
News of the Erpenbeck scandal has prompted Tristate home buyers to buy their own title insurance policies in record numbers.

July 10: FBI reviews Erpenbeck files
Several months into its bank fraud investigation of the Erpenbeck Co., the FBI has hauled off a large amount of company files, including home-sale documents and checks dating to 1999.

July 9: Former Peoples president finds buyer for home
Former Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky president John Finnan has found a buyer for his home amid a federal lawsuit alleging that the property was financed by proceeds of bank fraud.

July 8: Judge takes on Erpenbeck scandal
Boone County Circuit Court Judge Joseph “Jay” Bamberger is the busiest judge in Kentucky, handling almost 1,600 cases a year. Add one: Erpenbeck.

July 6: Erpenbeck ruling expands lawsuit
A Boone County judge granted the motion to add up to 100 parties — including lenders and title companies — as defendants in a class-action suit filed on behalf of owners of Erpenbeck-built homes.

July 3: Lender sells Erpenbeck loans
Owners of two homes are no longer threatened by a foreclosure now that loans totaling about $325,000 have been sold by Guardian Savings of Cincinnati — which filed foreclosure notices June 7 — to First American Title Co.

July 2: Erpenbeck scandal ran off Peoples deposits
The president of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky disclosed that an estimated $25 million in deposits left the Crestview Hills bank after the Erpenbeck scandal came to light.

June 29: County may seize company buildings
The Erpenbeck Co. could lose its Edgewood headquarters and another building it owns because taxes on the properties haven't been paid in two years.

June 28: Judge asked to release home liens
Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky has asked a judge to protect homeowners stung in the Erpenbeck scandal from losing their homes by foreclosure.

June 22: Family faces loss of home, savings
Marlene and Miguel de los Reyes are the first to face foreclosure proceedings in fallout from the Erpenbeck scandal. Cincinnati-based Guardian Savings has sued to force the sale of their home in the Steeplechase subdivision in Boone County.

June 22: Erpenbeck victim selling his tools
Desperate is the contractor who has to sell his power tools to pay his bills. But one Campbell County builder, injured and waiting for payment from the Erpenbeck Company, had to do just that.

June 22: City drains flooded Erpenbeck sites
A crew from the city of Independence pumped water out of flooded foundations of two Erpenbeck properties on Stallion Court in Taylor Mill after an Enquirer report exposed the potential hazard.

June 22: Former president of company indicted
A former company president has been indicted, accused of cashing company checks at Crestview Hills-based Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

June 20: Stagnant water at construction frustrates residents
Residents of Taylor Mill's upscale Claiborne subdivision are keeping their children off the streets because of the Erpenbeck scandal.

June 16: Erpenbeck partied while company imploded
Like a fraternity house president, Bill Erpenbeck took it upon himself to entertain his employees, whether it was taking 150 staffers and guests on the company's annual Caribbean cruise, letting them use the tanning bed in his Crestview Hills mansion or letting them take the company plane to the company condo in Myrtle Beach, S.C. But as the Erpenbeck brass enjoyed the high life, the company was in serious trouble.

June 13: $24.7 million diverted to Erpenbeck
A Boone County court filing unsealed Wednesday shows that $24.7 million in home sale proceeds were diverted into Erpenbeck Co. accounts at Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

June 11: Erpenbeck victims can join class action
More than 200 Erpenbeck Co. customers whose homes are double-mortgaged because of home closings gone awry will proceed as a class in a civil lawsuit seeking reparations from Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

June 5: Associates, kin burned in Erpenbeck scheme
The check-diversion scheme that has left Erpenbeck Co. customers with double mortgages on their homes has also affected home purchases by the company's bankers, by a business partner's family member and by its current president, Jeff Erpenbeck.

June 4: Erpenbeck camp claims forgery
Jeffrey Erpenbeck and Gary Erpenbeck, younger brothers of former Erpenbeck Co. president A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck, claim their signatures guaranteeing payment of $438,000 to Builders FirstSource are not theirs.

June 2: Other Erpenbecks could develop name complex
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. “I'm not that Bill Erpenbeck,” the 37-year-old auto mechanic from Fort Thomas proclaimed.

June 1: Erpenbeck case priority for FBI
What began with the hint of financial chicanery by the Erpenbeck Co. has blossomed into a major investigation involving at least three federal agencies and dozens of witnesses.

May 31: Suit impounds Jams homes
The 19 model homes that two ousted Northern Kentucky bankers bought from the Erpenbeck Co. for almost $5 million were legally impounded as possible purchases with stolen money.

May 30: Peoples freezes Finnan
Former Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky president John Finnan has decided not to use a $100,000 line of credit at the bank, likely avoiding a lawsuit.

May 29: Erpenbeck suit status ruling due
June 10 could be a definitive day in the Erpenbeck banking scandal: A judge will decide on the fate of a class-action suit by homeowners.

May 26: Builder's fall lifts lawyers
Erpenbeck customers are trying to save their homes. Lenders are preparing for loan losses. Real-estate title companies are assessing their financial exposure. And lawyers are racking up the hours.

May 25: Erpenbeck denies bad-check charge
A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck, tan from his Florida retreat, appeared in a Boone County courtroom to answer a felony charge of writing a bad check for $258,399 to a building contractor.

May 25: Bank sues its former president
John Finnan was sued by the bank he founded, Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, which claimed that he “knowingly breached his fiduciary duties" by allowing A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck, to exceed his borrowing limits at the bank and for doing business on the side with Erpenbeck without the knowledge of the bank's board of directors.

May 24: Owners at The Lofts stuck
The residents at The Lofts at Wetherington all have one unhappy common bond: Theirs are among the thousands of lives rocked by the Erpenbeck Co fiasco.

May 24: Erpenbeck condos unit files Ch. 11
The Erpenbeck subsidiary building the Chestnut Park condominiums in the Aston Woods development in Miami Heights filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law.

May 23: Finnan attorney denies charges
Former bank president John Finnan will fight charges that he used money made through criminal activity to buy a Florida condo, his lawyer said.

May 22: Feds file claims on homes
The U.S. Attorney's office in Cincinnati filed civil claims against four homes owned by William A. “Bill” Erpenbeck and deposed Peoples officers John Finnan and Marc Menne.

May 21: Erpenbeck strands condo associations
As homeowners in many Erpenbeck developments have already found out, the company's collapse dropped homeowner associations into a financial sinkhole.

May 21: Legislator seeks title reform
A Kentucky lawmaker is drafting a new law he said will offer better consumer protection by closing legal loopholes exposed by the scandal surrounding the Erpenbeck Co.

May 21: Erpenbeck to plead not guilty
Home builder William A. “Bill” Erpenbeck will plead not guilty Friday to charges he wrote a $258,399 bad check to a contractor, his lawyer said.

May 20: Erpenbeck fiasco making more weigh title insurance
Fewer than one in five area home buyers purchase their own title insurance. Now the Erpenbeck fiasco is teaching a hard lesson.

May 20: Little-known Ohio lien law could help some owners
An obscure Ohio law offers some protection to consumers who are forced to fight for ownership of their homes because of a builder's financial trouble.

May 19: Erpenbeck insider tells story
Mick Kennedy, the former head of single-family home construction at the Erpenbeck Co., says he had no idea of the alleged financial improprieties taking place at the troubled Edgewood firm.

May 19: SMITH AMOS: Is my money really safe at Peoples?
I never knew how easy it might be to trick my bank. Now, I'm just a nervous customer trying to justify keeping my money in the bank.

May 18: Home-selling rules scrutinized
Ohio needs tougher laws to protect home buyers and banks from unscrupulous builders, a state lawmaker said Friday.

May 18: New Erpenbeck lawyer seen as top trial talent
Jeff Erpenbeck, who is trying to save his home building company while facing a torrent of lawsuits, has hired Michael Barrett, a Cincinnati lawyer who once represented Marvin Warner.

May 16: Erpenbeck has Florida advantage
Home builder A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck had a simple reason for moving his family to Florida, one of his lawyers says: Lenient bankruptcy laws.

May 16: Erpenbeck fall batters small banks
The small Kentucky and Indiana banks that joined a $30 million loan to the Erpenbeck Co. through Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky will likely encounter a long and expensive legal process to recover their money, banking experts say.

May 15: Erpenbeck moves family to Florida
Northern Kentucky builder Bill Erpenbeck is staying in Florida but will return to continue cooperating with federal authorities, his attorney said.

May 14: Erpenbeck boxes open at stadium
The fall of the Tristate's fourth-biggest home builder has opened an opportunity for football lovers: a pair of skyboxes for Bengals home games.

May 12: Cash vanished in transit
Normally, closings end with property changing hands, one mortgage being paid off and another mortgage kicking in. But in Erpenbeck's brand of closing, six-figure sums earmarked to Erpenbeck's construction lenders vanished in transit, local lawyers and bankers say.

May 12: Title rules called overly lax
No state agency in Ohio or Kentucky oversees how real estate deals are completed even though unscrupulous agents have cost consumers and others millions of dollars in losses in recent years.

May 11: Erpenbeck arrested
Bill Erpenbeck, once one of the region's largest home-builders, was arrested Friday on charges of passing a bad check for $258,493.

May 11: Real estate laws leave buyers stranded
Business law experts say that someone buying a house has less legal protection than someone buying a used car or a blender, as many throughout the Tristate are discovering as the Erpenbeck ordeal continues.

May 10: Boone sheriff begins criminal investigation
The Boone County Sheriff's Department said it has opened a criminal investigation into the Erpenbeck Co.

May 10: Banks liked being lender to builder
For years, Greater Cincinnati bankers viewed the Erpenbeck Co. as a good credit risk, prompting large and small banks to invest tens of millions of dollars in the Edgewood home builder's projects.

May 9: Bank sues Erpenbeck
Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky filed suit against the Erpenbeck Co., seeking to foreclose on Erpenbeck-owned property to recover an undetermined amount of money that the bank thinks it is owed.

May 8: Bank buys 90 Erpenbeck homes
The bank that loaned more money to the Erpenbeck home-building empire than any other has bought about 90 residences from its troubled client and parked them in a subsidiary called Sand Trap Properties.

May 8: Regulators look closely at Peoples
Federal and state banking regulators aren't saying much as they examine the books at Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

May 7: Erpenbeck home title murky
After buying a $198,000 house from an Erpenbeck company, a couple learned that they didn't possess clear title — and that someone went to great lengths to keep them unaware of it.

May 5: Banker's fall dismays admirers
Friends say banker John Finnan would do anything to help or promote his adopted home of Northern Kentucky. But with disclosure of a separate business relationship with builder Bill Erpenbeck, Mr. Finnan stepped down last week as head of the bank he founded.

May 4: Erpenbeck check haul: $15M
The Erpenbeck Co. used Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky to redeem $15 million in checks made out to other financial institutions for new home purchases, a Peoples director said.

May 3: Lenders add up Erpenbeck tab
Representatives of Tristate banks and title companies crammed into a law firm conference room to assess damage from the Erpenbeck Co. troubles.

May 3: Erpenbeck lays off most of its staff
Dragged into court by creditors and under investigation for bank fraud by the FBI, the Erpenbeck Co. terminated the majority of its employees.

May 2: Erpenbeck faces more lawsuits
The nation's sixth-largest bank, Bank One, has joined the list of those suing home builder Erpenbeck Co. with $9.8 million in foreclosure lawsuits.

May 2: Peoples Bank 'very strong,' leader says
The new leader of Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky is convinced the institution is in sound financial shape, despite its linkage to Erpenbeck Co. and the loss of two top executives.

May 1: Builder's woes claim bankers
The financial calamity at the Erpenbeck Co. produced its first casualties in the banking industry: two executives at Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky.

April 30: Liens on Erpenbeck homes
Scores of people who bought new homes from builder A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck are being dragged into legal entanglements over payment claims held by subcontractors, banks and local governments.

April 28: Builder watches dream collapse
A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck spent years building a company that today appears to be crumbling.

April 27: Builder abandoned projects
The Erpenbeck Company's financial collapse has roiled the lives of people who thought they had bought their dream homes from Greater Cincinnati's fourth-biggest home builder.

April 26: Payment practice revised
It's been a Tristate custom: letting big builders like the Erpenbeck Co. carry the payment checks from new home buyers directly to the bank. But that's changing.

April 25: Erpenbeck brother didn't know
The brother of Northern Kentucky home builder A. William “Bill” Erpenbeck said he was unaware of the financial imbroglio that has drawn the attention of the FBI and federal banking investigators.

April 24: Builder target of inquiry
One of the Tristate's biggest home builders, the Erpenbeck Co. of Edgewood, is under federal investigation for a suspected bank fraud that could affect lenders, subcontractors and home buyers.

K E Y   D A T E S
April 23: The FBI confirms it is investigating the Erpenbeck Co. for suspected bank fraud. Also, the First National Bank of Northern Kentucky names company owner William Erpenbeck in a foreclosure suit filed in Kenton County Circuit Court. The bank claims Erpenbeck defaulted on a $450,000 loan he took out for a home in Summit Estates. More details

April 24: Jeff Erpenbeck, who had replaced his brother, William Erpenbeck, as president of the company in March, says he was unaware of the builder's financial problems that had drawn the attention of FBI investigators. More details

April 29: Provident Bank files a $2.6 million lawsuit claiming that the Erpenbeck Co. failed to guarantee $4.5 million in loans on a 1998 residential construction project in Miami Heights. More details

April 30: John O. Finnan, president of the Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, and Marc Menne, the bank's executive vice president for commercial loans, both resign in the wake of revelations of Erpenbeck's financial troubles. Finnan and Menne ran a separate company that bought numerous properties, mostly model homes, from Erpenbeck. Although the venture doesn't appear to violate banking rules, members of Peoples board of directors have frowned on the practice. More details

May 1: Bank One joins five other lenders in filing foreclosure lawsuits against Erpenbeck-held properties in Mason, Union and Boone County. The biggest Bank One suit accuses Oakmont Village Builders-an Erpenbeck subsidiary-of defaulting on $6.9 million in loans over a four-year period beginning in 1997. More details

Merwin Grayson comes out of retirement to assume command of Peoples Bank and proclaims the lending institution-with $209 million in assets and six branches in Northern Kentucky-to be in "very strong" financial shape. More details

May 2: The Erpenbeck Co. terminates 40 employees, leaving it with a staff of 10. More details

May 3: People's Bank of Northern Kentucky reveals that the Erpenbeck Co. had redeemed more than $15 million in checks made out to other financial institutions for new home purchases. Four other area banks initiate foreclosure actions. More details

May 8: Peoples Bank sues the Erpenbeck Co., seeking to foreclose on an undetermined amount of Erpenbeck property to recoup money the bank says Erpenbeck owes. Well-known Cincinnati lawyer Stan Chesley joins the legal fray, saying he and Covington lawyer Brandon Voelker will file a class action suit against Peoples Bank, accusing the bank of "fraud, negligence and unlawful conversion." Though only one couple is listed as the plaintiff, Chesley says the suit is open and could eventually include as many as 200 plaintiffs whose funds were allegedly misapplied by the bank. More details

May 9: The Boone County Sheriff's Department opens a criminal investigation into the Erpenbeck Co. It alleges that the builder never paid the county payroll taxes it collected from employees. More details

May 10: William Erpenbeck turns himself in to the Boone County Sheriff's Department, which books him on felony charges of passing a bad check for $258,493.99 to a contractor. He is released after his family posts a $50,000 bond. More details

May 11: To escape the "growing pressure and news media coverage" affecting his family, William Erpenbeck, his wife and three children relocate to their condominium in Ft. Myers, Fla. Erpenbeck's lawyer, Glenn V. Whitaker, says his client will continue to meet with federal authorities "whenever they want to talk to him." More details

May 16: Peoples Bank confirms it will stay open and pledges to cover any and all financial obligations stemming from its association with the Erpenbeck Co. Grayson says the bank has the backing of its board to cover any potential losses. More details

May 17: Jeff Erpenbeck hires Cincinnati attorney Michael Barrett, a former assistant Hamilton County prosecutor, to help defend his company against the growing number of lawsuits filed by homeowners, banks and subcontractors as the FBI continues its investigation of the Erpenbeck Co. for alleged bank fraud. More details

Also, State Rep. Michelle Schneider says she and two other area Republicans in the Ohio legislature will introduce a reform bill later this summer after discussions with industry officials. More details

In response to the growing controversy, Peoples Bank says that for the first time in its 10-year history, it will install a chairman of the board to more closely monitor the bank's daily operations. More details

May 19: The Enquirer reports that Mick Kennedy, the former head of single-family home construction at the Erpenbeck Co., left the firm immediately when he learned that his daughter was among the nearly 200 Erpenbeck customers who don't have a clear title to their homes. More details