WASHINGTON - A federal court hearing to continue a freeze on the assets of four former executives charged with embezzling $19.9 million from the failed First National Bank of Keystone in West Virginia was delayed Monday while the four sought a compromise with regulators, a court spokesman said.

The hearing, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston, has been rescheduled for Aug. 16. But the spokesman said a judge's ruling will be unnecessary if the defendants and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. can reach an agreement to let the executives keep control of some of their assets while a significant portion are held until final judgment on the case.

The assets of Keystone vice president Terry L. Church, Keystone Mortgage Corp. president Michael H. Graham, retired bank president Billie Cherry, and the late bank president J. Knox McConnell were temporarily frozen after the FDIC filed embezzlement charges on July 28.

In a related case, Ms. Church and Mr. Graham last week were each sentenced to more than four years in prison for obstructing bank examiners.

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