Ex-Philly bank CEO shot dead in 'contract hit'

Maurice J. Spagnoletti, a former bank executive in Pennsylvania, was shot to death in Puerto Rico Wednesday. (Photo from Vocero.com)

Maurice J. Spagnoletti, former CEO of the former Summit Bank's Pennsylvania operations in the late 1990s, was shot dead while driving home on a Puerto Rico highway from his new job as executive vice president of Puerto Rico's Doral Bank. Spagnoletti's contract had paid him $400,000 a year plus benefits to help reorganize the troubled company.

"Spagnoletti, 56, was gunned down behind the wheel of his Lexus as he drove home (in San Juan's wealthy Condado neighborhood) Wednesday evening in rush-hour traffic along the busy De Diego Expressway," hit by "three well-placed shots" to his head, reports Caribbean Business here, citing police sources who said the killing "appears to have been a contract hit."

"I would not speculate at this time as to the motive," Harry Rodriguez, FBI spokesman in San Juan, Puerto Rico, told me. He said the FBI is helping Puerto Rico police in the investigation, after a police request. He asked anyone with information to call the PR police at 787-343-2020 or the FBI at 787-754-6000.

"Police Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha said Friday the posting of a $50,000 reward for information leading to the solving of the case has generated various tips. Investigators, after initially hitting a wall in their attempts to locate witnesses, have confirmed that the victim was targeted by gunmen firing from another automobile," according to the Caribbean Business account. 

Two days after the slaying, Puerto Rico police haven't identified the car that carried the killer, who fired up to 9 shots from a .40-caliber gun, reports El Vocero here. Doral issued a statement calling Spagnoletti "an honest man" and mourning his death. Bank officials said the company was "sound." Spagnoletti had been leading a reorganization of the company.

Police considered but have discarded a theory Spagnoletti might have been targeted by workers laid off in the cost-cutting effort at Doral, reports El Nuevo Dia here. 

“Absolutely shocking,” said veteran Philadelphia banker turned bank-investor James Lynch, who was Spagnoletti’s boss at Summit. Lynch ran into him professionally over the years, but not since he moved to Doral last year. “He was our branch banking guru. He was a great organizer of people, a good leader, a people person. He was a taskmaster, but he was a real cheerleader. He was hard, but fair.”

Lynch said the murder, if bank-related, would be unusual for the island. “I know a number of Philadelphia real estate investors who have negotiated malls and projects down there, they say it’s like going into another country, it helps to know people. But I’ve never heard of any physical threats.” 

Spagnoletti, a graduate of St. Peter's College in Newark and Fairleigh Dickinson's business school, worked at a series of bank executive jobs in the Midwest after leaving Summit a little before its purchase by Fleet Bank (now part of Bank of America) in 2000. He leaves a wife and 5-year-old daughter.