Robert Citron, a former treasurer of California’s Orange County who spent nine months in prison for his role in what stood for years as the nation’s biggest municipal bankruptcy, has died. He was 87.
He died yesterday at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California, the Orange County Register reported, citing Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.
Orange County, the nation’s fifth most-populous county and home of Walt Disney Co.’s Disneyland, sought protection from creditors in 1994 after Citron lost about $1.7 billion on derivative investments. The county emerged from 18 months of bankruptcy in June 1996.
That stood as the biggest county bankruptcy until 2011, when Jefferson County, Alabama, filed for protection after costs spiraled out of control on auction-rate securities and derivatives related to $3.1 billion of sewer-system debt.
Citron, once praised for the high yields he earned on county investments, pleaded guilty to lying about conditions that led to losses in the county’s investment pool. He served about two-third of a one-year work-release sentence in 1997.
Citron was born in 1925 in Los Angeles, a third-generation Californian, and grew up in Burbank, according to the Los Angeles Times. He served as the county’s treasurer and tax collector for 24 years after rising through the ranks of the treasury department.