- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009

The acting chief financial officer for U.S. mortgage broker Freddie Mac was found dead in his Northern Virginia home early Wednesday after an apparent suicide, police said.

Fairfax County police said officers found the body of David Kellermann in the basement of his home in the upscale Hunter Mill Estates subdivision of Vienna. He appeared to have hanged himself, said a police officer who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Mr. Kellermann, 41, served as the top financial officer for Freddie Mac since the federal government seized the company in September. He joined the firm in 1992 as an analyst.

Freddie and Fannie Mae came under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission in September for their accounting practices in connection with the toxic mortgages the agencies took on during the housing boom.

Two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the Freddie Mac investigation, told the Associated Press that Mr. Kellermann was neither a target nor a subject of the investigation and had not been under law enforcement scrutiny.

Freddie and sibling company Fannie have both come under fire from lawmakers because they plan to pay more than $210 million in bonuses through next year to give workers the incentive to stay in their jobs. Mr. Kellermann got $170,000 and was to receive another $680,000 over the next year, the Associated Press reported.

Neighbors told the New York Times that Mr. Kellermann hired a private security firm after reporters came to his house to ask about his bonus.

Police spokesman Eddy Azcarate said the body was found after officers responded to a 911 call at 4:48 a.m. from a family member inside the regal two-story red brick home that Mr. Kellermann shared with his wife, Donna, and his 5-year-old daughter, Grace.

Police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings initially described the death as an apparent suicide, but police later termed it an “unattended death” because the investigation is ongoing. Mr. Azcarate said there was no evidence of foul play.

Residents of the Hunter Mill Estates neighborhood said they were stunned at the news of Mr. Kellermann’s death, describing it as “shocking.” Some speculated that Mr. Kellermann may have succumbed to stress related to his work.

Some neighbors, who asked not to be quoted by name out of respect for the family, said they noticed Mr. Kellermann had lost weight and seemed to be under stress since he took over Freddie’s CFO duties.

“Dave was such a busy guy, but I mean we’re all busy. It’s such a tragedy,” one neighbor said.

Other residents described the neighborhood as “very friendly” and a place where “everyone is concerned about everyone else.”

“Our kids all play together. We have barbecues. We tend to each other’s gardens, and we’re always there when we need each other. This community is in a total daze,” said a neighbor who lives a few blocks from the intersection of Brittenfold Drive and Raleigh Hill Road, where the Kellermann home is located.

“Everyone here is so warm, so friendly. We have families here of all cultures. It’s very diverse. I’ve lived here 10 years and we’ve never seen something like this,” said one resident, who gave her first name as Jini, who also lives near the Kellermanns. “It’s a total shock.”

Police said Mr. Kellermann’s wife and daughter left the home Wednesday morning.

The Office of the Medical Examiner said it would not release details on the manner or cause of death until later in the week.

Before being promoted to chief financial officer, Mr. Kellermann was Freddie’s controller and principal accounting officer dealing with financial statements and disclosures, according to Freddie’s Web site. Mr. Kellermann received a master’s degree in finance from George Washington University.

John Koskinen, Freddie’s interim chief executive, released a statement saying Mr. Kellermann was “a man of great talent” and that “his extraordinary work ethic and integrity inspired all who worked with him.”

Freddie, which owns or guarantees 13 million mortgages, has been at the center of the global financial crisis and the government’s efforts to address the crisis. Freddie’s purchases of risky mortgages made it vulnerable to the collapse in mortgage markets that started in 2007, weakening the mortgage giant to the point that the government had to step in and take control of the company.

Since taking control of Freddie and Fannie and becoming a principal source of funding for their mortgage activities, the government has demanded that they lead efforts to assist homeowners overwhelmed by unaffordable mortgages.

Fannie and Freddie have been instrumental in setting standards for affordable and safe mortgages, and last month announced major programs making it easier for homeowners to refinance “underwater” mortgages and avoid foreclosure.

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