CARLISLE, Iowa - From the moment the federal government's 70-person bank liquidation team descended on this tiny town last month, keeping the mission a secret was like hiding an elephant under a doily.

The purpose of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s invasion was to find a buyer for the troubled Hartford-Carlisle Savings Bank, a $114 million-asset company weighed down by $12 million of bad loans, just under half of them allegedly fraudulent. Ultimately, the FDIC succeeded. Iowa regulators closed the insolvent bank on Jan. 14 and it reopened the next day as Citizens Bank, a subsidiary of $1.2 billion-asset Spectrum Bancorp of Omaha.

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