Broker Kills Broker
“The read we got on him was that this was just not like him,” Bill Ridge, deputy police chief of the Portland, Maine, Police Department, told MortgageDaily.com. “He was very dedicated to his work and took making money very seriously.”
Police finally found Robert Wagner on Feb. 22 — buried in a makeshift grave in a rural, hilly part of Maine 45 minutes west of Portland.
And now police have charged Wagner’s mortgage business mentor with murder.
Steven Clark, the former operator of the failed Sebago Lake Mortgage, is being held without bail by the Portland Police, who have charged him with murder, Ridge said.
Even before the alleged murder, Clark’s professional life appeared to be in a free fall. Following a Feb. 10 administrative hearing before the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, regulators barred Clark from the mortgage business after determining that he failed to follow up on customer’s mortgage transactions, owed nearly $15,000 in fines and payments to customers and intimidated and threatened employees.
“Clark,” regulators wrote in a Feb. 23 order, “clearly does not possess the necessary financial responsibility, character or fitness to own, operate or participate in the operation of a” loan brokerage.
During the hearing former customers described Clark’s business has being in disarray. He failed to show up for appointments, maintained poor records and did not follow-up on closing loans even after accepting fees and payments.
“I have made numerous call(s) and have not been called back,” one customer told regulators, according to a written report on Clark’s administrative hearing. “It’s like the company fell off the face of the earth.”
Another witness at the hearing, an employee at Clark’s brokerage, testified that he had seen Clark “animated” and “yelling” and told of how he picked up a five-gallon water cooler jug and threw it near another employee.
The witness said that Clark “had lost control of the operations of the company.”
A witness testified that the operations of the company during the last few months were a “disaster” and that Clark showed signs of an addiction to pain killers. He said the office as “looking like a war zone” because of the holes Clark had put holes in doors and walls.
Wagner was one of a handful of young men, most of them in the mid- to late-20s, who had gone to work for Clark and learned the mortgage business from him, Ridge said.
Clark knew the mortgage business, but he was also a flamboyant character in Portland, known for his late night antics and driving around town in a large black Humvee vehicle, Ridge said.
“He was pretty familiar to us,” Ridge said.
Wagner and Clark were together on the night of Feb. 14 into the early morning hours of Feb. 15, Ridge said. They had spent time at a Portland strip club called Platinum Plus. Just before 2 a.m. they left the club. Police have records that Wagner withdrew $400 from an ATM later in the morning.
Under questioning by police, Clark said he and Wagner partied at Clark’s residence until about dawn, when Clark drove Wagner back to the club to retrieve his pickup truck.
Police aren’t releasing many details about the case, but Ridge did say police saw Clark driving his Hummer through town “when he said he was someplace else.”
“We have some problems with his story,” Ridge said. “He couldn’t confirm portions of it.”
Clark was arrested the same day Wagner’s body was discovered. The investigation is continuing, Ridge said.