The turmoil that has engulfed the National Credit Union Administration for nearly two years continued this week as a divided board voted to fire executive director Karl T. Hoyle, effective Feb. 23.

Mr. Hoyle, the agency's top staff member since December 1993, plans to sue the NCUA. "We're going to raise holy hell with this agency," his lawyer, James J. Butera of Butera & Andrews, said in an interview Thursday. Describing Mr. Hoyle as a scapegoat, Mr. Butera added: "Everyone above Karl is blameless and everybody below Karl is blameless and Karl walks the plank."

Mr. Hoyle was put on administrative leave with pay on Sept. 25 after the Office of Personnel Management, citing violations of recruiting and hiring rules, stripped the NCUA of the authority to hire staff. The violations are still be investigated by the Office of Special Counsel.

Mr. Butera said the lawsuit will argue that agency Chairman Norman D'Amours alone had the power to fire Mr. Hoyle. "Mr. Hoyle works for the chairman, not the board," he said.

On the question of firing Mr. Hoyle, Mr. D'Amours was outvoted by the agency's two other board members. Mr. D'Amours said he thought no decision should be made until the Special Counsel's investigation is complete.

Mr. Butera said the suit will also allege that the NCUA denied Mr. Hoyle a chance to defend himself and based its decision to fire him on unsworn statements made by staff members with axes to grind.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. D'Amours described the personnel office's report as "a serious bump in the road, but we're in the process of responding to it.

"This is a very well-functioning agency," he added. "I know there are people who say otherwise, but it's a noisy minority."

Mr. Hoyle's firing is the latest in a string of controversies at the NCUA. In May 1996 Congress held hearings on a former board member's allegations that Mr. D'Amours, among other things, had him followed. The General Accounting Office last spring concluded an atmosphere of "distrust and animosity" existing among NCUA board members. That tension erupted in September at an open meeting when board member Yolanda Wheat insisted the agency's hiring violations be discussed and Mr. D'Amours stomped out of the room.

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