ELKTON — Terrie G. Spiro has tendered her resignation as president and chief executive officer of Cecil Bancorp Inc. and Cecil Bank, the last locally-owned financial institution in Cecil County.
The board of directors accepted her resignation effective Nov. 30 and brought in J. William Knott to succeed her immediately.
Knott, with almost 40 years in banking, became president and CEO of Cecil Bank and Cecil Bancorp Inc. effective Dec. 1.
“It’s just another chapter in the long history of Cecil Bank,” said spokeswoman Katherine Elliott. Knott is the 5th president of the bank founded in 1959.
Knott met with employees Wednesday and thanked them for all their hard work, telling them he “joined the bank to help it grow.”
Spiro was with Cecil Bank for seven years and was brought in to rescue the financial company from collapse. According Elliott, under Spiro’s guidance more than $39 million in outstanding debt was retired including TARP funds and foreclosures. (TARP is the federal program initiated to bail out homeowners behind in mortgage payments from the real estate bubble in 2008) She is credited with reducing operating costs and saving another $30.2 million in recapitalization.
In August Cecil Bank announced it was closing three branches; in Cecilton, Elkton and Havre de Grace. Those branches officially close Saturday.
Its Aberdeen branch had been sold to Howard Bank in 2013.
All of this helped turn Cecil Bank back to well-capitalized status.
“Terrie Spiro was recruited to the bank as a well-known CEO and well-respected turnaround specialist. During her seven years as President and CEO she has made exceptional strides in focusing on the sale of large OREO (foreclosed) properties, reducing the bank’s classified assets and past due loans, making improvements to the securities portfolio, and enhancing products and services,” board president William H. Cole IV said Tuesday. “Terrie’s extensive experience and expertise have brought the bank through difficult times, and we are exceptionally grateful for her tenacious dedication to the success of Cecil Bank.”
Her successor is also grateful for Spiro’s work.
“Ninety percent of the problems are behind us now,” Knott said, adding Spiro “did all the heavy lifting.” He is confident that the plans she put in place will keep the bank moving forward with success.
Spiro replaced Mary Halsey, who retired in Nov. 2013. Halsey was sentenced last month to two years in federal prison and five years probation for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, receipt of a bribe by a bank official, and false statement in bank records in a scheme that cost the bank $145,000. She could have been sentenced to as much as 90 years cumulatively.
Elliott said Spiro’s departure was in no way connected.
Fixing what’s broke
One of Spiro’s first moves was to de-register Cecil Bank with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which she told the Whig in 2014 would realize a savings of thousands of dollars over time.
“The board of directors and I considered de-registering when we looked at how much we could save in terms of lawyers, accounting, printing and employees’ time in compiling the figures and reporting them to the SEC,” she said at that time. “It was an economic decision and our stock is only thinly traded, which is fairly typical of most community banks.”
The US Federal Reserve issued a “Prompt Corrective Action” directive to Cecil Bank in Aug. 2015. That directive came about three months after the Federal Reserve warned Cecil Bank that it had been operating from an undercapitalized position and had not submitted an acceptable capital restoration plan.
Two years went by when Cecil Bank entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2017, but emerged less than four months later with new investors and $30 million in newly issued stock.
Not really settled in yet to his new office, Knott said it’s business as usual.
“We will continue to take care of our clients,” Knott said. “They’ve been loyal to us.”
Coming from Baltimore, Knott is familiar with the history of Cecil Bank, which was founded as Cecil Federal Savings almost 62 years ago. The name shortened to Cecil Federal in 2002, and then Cecil Bank in 2006.
“We appreciate the deep roots in Cecil County and our loyal customers,” Knott said.
Pending regulatory approval, Spiro will remain as a consultant to Cecil Bank.