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Emperor Charles

Charlie Keating was one of the most interesting men I’ve ever known.

Not only was he an award-winning championship swimmer, but his grandson, Gary Hall Jr., won 10 Olympic medals in the sport. He was a devout Roman Catholic who considered Mother Teresa a friend. His attention was sought after by presidents and those who wanted to be. He headed business holdings and real estate worth billions.

And yet, the last interview I did with Charlie Keating, who died last Monday, was on a phone they allowed him to use in his Arizona jail cell. There in that unlikely location — and before that in radio and television studios — his message was always the same. He would calmly tell my audience that if the government would just leave him alone and let him do business his way, his holdings would flourish for everyone.

And what holdings they were: The multi-million dollar Phoenician Resort was his creation, as was Estrella in Goodyear.

Investors lost millions and Charlie lost his freedom, but every time I pass the Phoenician, I wonder: What if the government had let Charlie Keating do things his way?

I’m Pat McMahon.