Who Can Live On 17 Grand A Month?

Most people would cheer at the thought of a $17,000 monthly allowance. Not Thomas Spiegel, who stands accused of spending double what he's allowed for living expenses. After the feds in 1991 seized failed Columbia Savings & Loan, which Spiegel headed, a court imposed the $17K spending cap, pending the outcome of Washington's $40 million claim on him. The government, which is stuck with the $2 billion tab for the collapse of the Beverly Hills (Calif.) thrift, put Spiegel on the short leash because it doesn't want him dissipating his assets.

But Spiegel, who took in millions from the S&L, has been spending around $34,000 monthly, says the federal Office of Thrift Supervision. A Spiegel lawyer concedes his client may have overspent, but sums "varied from month to month and day to day." In the wake of the OTS complaint, though, he now has to ask a court-appointed receiver before he spends another dime.