Combatants at Bank of Glen Burnie reach an accord

March 17, 1995|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

A white flag has gone up at the Bank of Glen Burnie.

Former President Jan W. Clark and the old board of directors agreed yesterday to unlock the doors and turn the keys over to the newly elected leaders and president F. William Kuethe Jr.

The bank's new leaders will move in and begin work today, according to a written statement released by attorneys from both sides, who met for 90 minutes in the chambers of Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Robert Heller Jr. Judge Heller was to have ruled yesterday on Mr. Kuethe's request to have the old officers removed from the bank's Crain Highway headquarters.

Mr. Clark, who, along with 11 of 12 board members, was voted out during the annual stockholders meeting last week, said he and the new board have "settled all issues."

"We are moving out and will be out of here tomorrow," Mr. Clark said yesterday. "It is all being done in a very structured and orderly way."

In the three-paragraph statment released late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Kuethe said the agreement was "amicably reached."

"Henry Hein [former chairman] and Jan Clark have made very substantial contributions to the welfare of the bank," he said.

"Despite our recent disagreements, I have great personal regard for them as men of achievement and integrity. I wish them well."

Reached by phone yesterday, Mr. Kuethe said he had resigned from his position as president of Glen Burnie Mutual Savings Bank. He added that he did not think the internal power struggle would harm the bank's financial health.

The two factions had been bickering for months over management issues.

The dispute came to the boiling point in October when Mr. Kuethe, John E. Demyan and Ethel M. Webster, the majority stockholders, demanded that the board fire Mr. Clark.

The three threatened to replace the board if it refused to do so.

After the March 9 annual meeting, Mr. Clark and the ousted board refused to leave.

The dispute pitted neighbor against neighbor in the suburban Baltimore community, which maintains a small-town atmosphere. The bank opened in 1949 and has been managed by generations of family members.

Mr. Kuethe's father, Fred W. Kuethe, was the bank's first president. Mr. Demyan's father, John Demyan Jr. was the bank's second president, taking over from Mr. Kuethe in 1968. He served until 1987.

Apparently, the revolt at the state's 28th-largest bank was sparked by a racial discrimination suit filed this month.

Members of the new management say the suit exposed the bank to possible financial ruin.

Prabhakar J. Kharod, a doctor who emigrated to the United States from India more than 20 years ago, sued in federal court, charging that the bank had defaulted on his home construction loan because his Pasadena neighbors did not want him to live there.

The suit charges that influential community members pressured the bank's officers to call in the loan when Mr. Kharod had fallen less than 45 days behind on a payment, and that Mr. Clark had made a "discriminatory" comment about the couple.

"I did not make that decision alone," Mr. Clark said of the loan yesterday. "The decision was made for business reasons and nothing else. And I never made any racial slurs about anyone."

Mr. Clark also denied allegations by the Kharods' lawyers in documents filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday that accused him of destroying records related to the case. The Kharods' lawyers

withdrew those documents yesterday.

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