Ex-Charter chief bought land in Fla.


Property records confirm that Hamilton A. Schmidt bought land on an isolated tropical island off the west coast of Florida in July 1992.

Mr. Schmidt, former CEO of Charter Group Inc., a defunct Baltimore insurance agency, vanished in September 1993, remained at large when he was indicted last October on theft and embezzlement charges and resurfaced early last week.

Charter creditors had disclosed Thursday that they were investigating whether Mr. Schmidt had acquired property on Captiva Island for $40,000. But Lee County, Fla., records show that in fact he bought the undeveloped lot on North Captiva, a smaller island just north of Captiva, for $25,000.

Creditors have been unable to find any other assets that Mr. Schmidt holds.

The property -- an 8,625-square-foot residential parcel -- is assessed at $19,590 and located at 130 Swallow Drive on an island near Fort Myers only reachable by boat or airplane. The property was listed for sale for $25,000 from June 1993 to June 1994 by North Captiva Realty Inc. Earlier, it had been listed under a different real estate agent.

Mr. Schmidt's property, with yucca plants, cactus and palm trees, is located on the less expensive, northern tip of the island, north of a private air strip and wildlife preserve, real estate agents said.

North Captiva is a remote, tropical haven of about 300 homes -- 60 of which are used year-round -- where residents and vacationers transport themselves in golf carts on sandy roads. Captiva Island proper, a larger abutting barrier island, is a tropical resort off the west coast of Florida, north of Naples.

Only two other dwellings share Swallow Drive with Mr. Schmidt's property -- a small rustic frame house with lattice work, available for rental, and a log cabin vacation home, real estate agents said.

There are no construction permits on record in the county real estate office for Mr. Schmidt's property. The Lee County tax collector's office confirmed that Mr. Schmidt is delinquent on his property taxes and that the land will be sold unless he pays his back taxes.

Creditors are suing Mr. Schmidt for more than $1 million in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He also faces a 17-count indictment in Baltimore County Circuit Court on charges of felony theft and embezzlement.

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