Cohee, 52, took a somewhat different view in his own life. His bank bought or leased luxury real estate he used and, until federal regulators complained in 2008, paid for his Porsche. Cohee’s East Coast spread was an $880,000 condominium on Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive, and out west the bank leased a $26,500-a-month mansion for him on Palisades Beach Road in Santa Monica, Calif., owned by Bruce Springsteen’s drummer, Max Weinberg.
A battle of lawsuits over the house — Cohee complained that he had to ship in “a huge bar, a desk, a chandelier,” and Weinberg accused him of installing secret surveillance cameras in the master bedroom — led Cohee and his wife, through a corporation they formed, to buy the house for $6.4 million in late 2006. OneUnited then provided him a living allowance at the mansion, where, a year later, he was twice arrested, on sexual assault and drug charges.
It was the bank’s assistance with his expenses that helped provoke a cease-and-desist order from the federal government, accusing the bank and its officers of misspending and lax lending, and putting its operating license at risk.
That order landed in the fall of 2008, in the same period that Cohee and his colleagues at the bank were in contact with Waters and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to secure tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep it afloat.