Native American tribe behind push for Calif. de novo bank

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A de novo bank proposed for Temecula, Calif., is being backed by a Native American tribe.

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians is the group behind Legacy Bank, which recently applied with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for deposit insurance. The tribe plans to form and own a holding company for the proposed bank, according to the application.

The plan is to raise $25 million in initial capital for the bank, which would have offices in Temecula and San Jacinto. While Legacy would offer services to the tribe and its related business, it would also operate as a business bank in its communities.

Jim Hicken is set to serve as the proposed bank’s president and CEO. He was the founding CEO of Bank of Santa Clarita, which he left in 2012. He then led a turnaround effort at Frontier Bank in Palm Desert, Calif., though the bank failed in November 2014.

Chuck Fenton would serve as chief credit officer. He was recently CEO of Blue Gate Bank, a de novo that opened in 2017 only to be sold a year later to Big Poppy Holdings. He was also CEO of TomatoBank from 2009 to 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Rick Huerta is set to become the bank’s chief financial officer. Huerta’s background includes stints as CFO at Neighborhood National Bank and Vibra Bank, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Two tribe members — Becky Flores and Geneva Mojado — will join Legacy’s board. Flores has served on a number of tribe committees, including the casino, constitution, credit, election, enrollment, gaming commission. Mojado, who was raised on the Soboba Reservation, has served three terms on the Soboba Tribal Council.

The board will also include Jim Jones, a principal at Carpenter & Co., which is helping the tribe navigate the application process and hire executives and directors.

The other organizers are Koka Lakshman and Michael Vanderpool.

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Community banking De novo institutions Capital California