M. David Howell's Debts May Total $60 Million

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

None of the notes was registered with the Securities Department, nor is Howell a licensed securities broker. Sources indicate that Howell was investing the money through margin accounts at one or more Memphis brokerages.

Howell was also said to be working with Little Rock financial adviser Brett Holiman of Investment Advisory Group, which is located in Pavilion Center at 8315 Cantrell Road. Holiman declined to comment on his business relationship with Howell.

Russ Kelley, resident manager of the Merrill Lynch brokerage office at Fayetteville, said it was “absolutely not” possible that Howell had intentionally defrauded his investors.

“I just know my friend David Howell, and I can’t imagine him having the mindset to do anything besides exactly what he said he would do,” said Kelley, who had been friends with Howell since they worked together at First National Bank of Fayetteville in the 1980s.

Although the promissory notes dated back as far as March 1999, ASD Chief Counsel Bruce Bokony said the department received its first complaint about Howell on Oct. 14. Less than a week earlier, on Oct. 8, Bank of America had stopped honoring checks written on the account of M. David Howell and the Howell Family Revocable Trust, which suggests that investors then turned to the Securities Department for help.

By that time, Howell’s account at Bank of America was overdrawn by nearly $1.9 million, the bank said in its lawsuit. John Monroe, a local vice president, swore to the allegations in the complaint.

Bank of America’s complaint lists 25 handwritten checks signed by Howell and made out to 21 different payees; four carried dates in September and 21 were dated Oct. 1, but all were cashed on or after Oct. 2. They ranged from $284 for health insurance to a $702,500 check made out to Johnny Chambers.

The check for health insurance and a $419.40 check to Prudential Insurance Co. do not seem to be related to the promissory notes. Nor does a $939 check written on Sept. 25 to the Southern & Allen law firm in Little Rock — that amount matches the cash bond that attorney Gus Allen, also a member of the PVCC, posted in August after Howell was convicted in Maumelle Municipal Court of driving while intoxicated.

But the other 21 checks were likely interest payments to investors, several of whom received more than one check. Six of the checks bear memos indicating that they were replacements for earlier checks, and some of the earlier checks bear higher check numbers than later checks.

Robert Vogel confirmed that he was holding a number of bounced checks from Howell, in addition to four checks made out to him or his businesses that were honored by Bank of America. Vogel would not say what the checks were for.

Bank of America referred all questions about the suit to Diane Wagner, a public information officer in the bank’s Charlotte, N.C., headquarters. She said the bank would not comment on any matter in litigation, but she also said that the bank’s policy on overdraft protection might depend on the particular account.

Photocopies of the checks that Bank of America honored were included in the lawsuit. While the signatures all appear to have been written by the same hand, some of the checks were otherwise made out in a very different handwriting. And while Bank of America named the payee of one check as “Greg Smith” — the name of a member of PVCC — the handwritten name on the check looks more like “Guy Smith,” the name of Richard T. Smith’s brother and co-owner of SABCO.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.