The Maverick National Bank of Boston was originally a State institution. At the time of its conversion into a national association in December, 1864, its capital stock was $400,000, and its liabilities, exclusive of capital, $495,461. The last report of condition of the National Association immediately preceding its failure showed its capital to be $400,000, surplus $800,000, and its total liabilities, exclusive of capital, $10,343,749.
For some time before the failure of the institution it had been in an unsatisfactory condition and was a source of anxiety to the Comptroller's office, although there was no reason to believe that it was insolvent. This unsatisfactory condition was due to the largely excessive loans made to certain of the bank's directors. The real character and extent of the loans, however, were not known to the Comptroller until after the failure of the bank, when their speculative nature was revealed.
Asa P. Potter was president of the institution and its ruling spirit. He and one of its directors, Jonas H. French, owned more than half of the capital stock. Potter's holdings amounted to $147,000, and French's to $96,500. They appeared to operate the bank as their personal institution, without regard to law or the restrictions of the statutes, and freely used its funds in reckless speculations. Numerous loans were made largely in excess of the legal limit, not only to themselves, but to others with whom they were connected in business or in speculative ventures. To conceal these large unlawful loans, deceptive methods were resorted to. Dummy notes were freely used, collaterals were deposited with the notes, and written guarantees, separate from the notes, were taken from the real debtors. The signers of these notes were relatives, street brokers, clerks, messengers, janitors, white and colored, and minors under the age of fourteen years.
Among the concerns that were excessive borrowers of the bank was the firm of Irving A. Evans & Company, stock brokers, with which Mr. Potter was associated. Irving A. Evans failed owing the bank $611,326, and shot himself at Allentown, N. H., on the 16th day of October, 1891. Immediately following his suicide, Potter released the surviving members of the firm, and the signers of the accommodation notes held by the bank, to the amount of $591,326, taking collaterals of the value of not more than $150,000 in full settlement. The greater part of this obligation was, therefore, thrown upon the Maverick National Bank in the form of a loan on a note signed by a bookkeeper in the bank for $402,236, with the Evans collaterals as security.
The shock of the Evans failure and suicide had its effect upon the bank and precipitated its closing on October 31, 1891, on which date Alfred Ewer, who was the assistant of the National Bank Examiner for Boston, James W. Magruder, took possession of the institution. Mr. Magruder, whose health had not been good for some time, died suddenly on the day following the closing of the bank.
At the date of closing Messrs. Potter, French and Dana were indebted to the institution in the sum of $1,364,041.25, $704,-182.93 and $487,782.35 respectively, or a total of $2,556,006.53.
After the failure of the institution an examination of the books disclosed that the reports of condition made to the Comptroller had been deliberately and systematically falsified in order to conceal from him and the public the true condition of the institution.
Although the gross liabilities of the directors amounted to the sum of $2,556,006.53, the reports of the bank showed the aggregate of such liabilities to be less than $200,000. The limit of a loan that this bank could lawfully make was $40,000, and as the board consisted of only five directors, if each director had borrowed to the limit, the aggregate of such loans could not have exceeded $200,000. Consequently, the sum total of their loans was shown in the sworn reports of condition of the bank to be less than $200,000.
An assessment of one hundred per cent. was levied by the Comptroller upon the stockholders of the association, and $139,-427 of this amount was collected. The total collections from all sources amounted to $7,059,027, and 90.16 per cent., or $6,754,-775, was paid in dividends to the depositors and other creditors. The receivership was finally closed March 31, 1898.
Voluminous indictments were found against Asa P. Potter, the president of the bank, and Jonas H. French and Thomas Dana, directors, for wilful misapplication of the funds of the association, embezzlement, false entries in the books and false reports to the Comptroller, but these indictments were quashed by Judge Nelson of the United States Court. Some time later other indictments were found against these same individuals, which were sustained and the cases were assigned for trial. For some reason or other the Government appears to have abandoned all of the indictments, excepting that against Asa P. Potter, for over-certifications of checks. He was tried on this indictment and found guilty. A sentence of thirty days in jail and a fine of five thousand dollars was imposed by Judge Putnam. Exceptions were filed by his counsel and after a delay of a year or more were heard by the Circuit Court of Appeals, which sustained some of the exceptions and ordered a new trial. The sentence from which appeal was made, however, was so light, and the expenses of a new trial so heavy, that the Government did not feel warranted in prosecuting the case to a finish. Jonas H. French and Thomas Dana died some time afterward, and Potter left Boston.