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

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

Neither Greg Smith nor Richard Smith returned phone calls seeking clarification, and Guy Smith could not be located. Calls to Chambers, Jones and Cissell were not returned. Gus Allen did not return a call seeking to determine whether he was still representing Howell. Carol Reaves, the Stephens Security Bank president, declined to comment, as did Dr. John McCracken, a retired Little Rock physician who received one of the checks that Bank of America honored.

Howell History

Mace David Howell Jr. was born in Fayetteville on June 21, 1948. His father was a banker at First State Bank of Springdale, where Howell Jr. went to work after receiving a degree in banking from the University of Arkansas in 1971.

By the time he was 28, he was its president. In June 1978, he joined Jim Lindsey and Dick Calhoun in developing Springdale’s first upscale residential subdivision, Woodcliff.

The young banker also became friendly with Springdale trucking mogul J.B. Hunt, whose corporate business he lured to his bank. In 1985, Howell and Hunt paid $22 million for the First National Bank of Fayetteville, which financially distressed Worthen Banking Corp. sold to raise cash. Howell became its president and CEO.

The next year, he and Hunt made a deal to buy First American Bancshares in North Little Rock, the holding company of One National Bank, from the Matthews family at a price of approximately $30 million. They created a holding company called Howell & Hunt Bancshares and, at 39, Howell moved his family to Cammack Village.

In 1987, Howell & Hunt Bancshares was renamed One National Bancshares. But One Bank’s fortunes were rocky. In April 1989, Howell resigned as CEO for “personal reasons,” and the bank later reported a net loss for the year. By then, however, Howell had led a group of investors to buy Farmers & Merchants Bank of Rogers and First National Bank of Bentonville.

In 1990, One Bank again erased any earnings by writing down $2.3 million in bad loans. In 1991, Hunt sold First National Bank of Fayetteville back to the resurgent Worthen operation for $32 million and also sold Worthen eight One Bank branches in North Little Rock. Ross Whipple of Arkadelphia bought the One Bank branch in Hot Springs, leaving One Bank with only four branches in Little Rock. Hunt subsequently sold One Bank to its CEO, Layton “Scooter” Stuart.

Howell and his wife, the former Kay Carter, divorced in 1996 after almost 19 years of marriage. They had two sons, Mace David Howell III and Dane Howell.

Not much has been written about Howell or his business activities in recent years. He was, however, a benefactor of Steven W. Jones, the bankrupt convenience store owner who is the subject of a fraud and conspiracy suit filed by Regions Bank.

Regions, which already has a $443,000 judgment against Jones, filed the suit in April, claiming that Jones had cooked up a plan to hide his assets. In a deposition for the first case, Jones explained part of the $760,000 that passed through his checking account between August 2000 and September 2001 by saying he borrowed $50,000 from Howell, Robert Vogel and professional golfer Glen Day.

Howell was driving a 2003 Mercedes SL500 — an $85,000 car — at about 2 a.m. on April 24 when a Maumelle Police officer pulled him over for driving erratically, although not very fast, on Highway 100 at Crystal Hill. Howell, who had no previous alcohol-related violations, was “very cooperative,” according to the officer’s report. Howell described himself as a self-employed investor.



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