WASHINGTON (AP) - David Kellermann, the acting chief financial officer of money-losing mortgage giant Freddie Mac, was found dead
at his home early Wednesday in what police said was an apparent suicide.
The Fairfax County police responded to a 911-call at 4:48 a.m. at the suburban Virginia home Kellermann shared with his wife Donna and five-year-old daughter Grace. The police would not release the exact cause of death, but spokesman Eddy Azcarate said Kellermann's body was found in the basement.
Kellermann, 41, lived in Hunter Mill Estates, a well-off neighborhood of large single-family homes with manicured lawns. County records show Kellermann's home is worth about $900,000.
Paul Unger, who lives across the street from the Kellermanns, called the family a "solid, salt-of-the-earth kind of family" that hosted the neighborhood's Halloween party. "He was just a nice guy ... You cannot imagine what kind of pressures he must have been under," Unger said.
Some neighbors said Kellermann had lost a noticeable amount of weight under the strain of the job, and some said they suggested to him he should quit to avoid the stress. The neighbors did not want to be quoted by name because they didn't want to upset the family.
Kellermann, a University of Michigan graduate who went to business school at George Washington University, worked for Freddie Mac for the past 16 years and was named acting chief financial officer last September when the government seized control of the company and ousted top executives. Freddie Mac lost more than $50 billion last year, and the government has pumped in $45 billion to keep the company afloat.
Kellermann's death is the latest in a string of blows to Freddie Mac, which owns or guarantees about 13 million mortgages and us the No. 2 mortgage finance company after sibling Fannie Mae. The company has been criticized for financing risky mortgage loans that fueled the real estate bubble, and its first government-appointed CEO, David Moffett, resigned last month after six months on the job.
As the company's financial chief, Kellermann was working on the company's first quarter financial report, due at the end of May, with federal regulators closely overseeing the company's books and signing off on major decisions.
That relationship has been tense at times. Freddie Mac executives recently battled with federal regulators over whether to disclose potential losses on mortgage securities tied to the Obama administration's housing plan, said a person familiar with the deliberations who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Federal prosecutors in Virginia have been investigating Freddie Mac's business practices. But two U.S. law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the Freddie Mac investigation, said Kellermann was neither a target nor a subject of the investigation and had not been under law enforcement scrutiny.
News of Kellermann's death came as a shock to employees of the McLean, Va.-based company, with those who knew Kellermann tearing
up on Wednesday morning and a quiet mood prevailing. Senior executives at the company heard the news on local radio before going to work.
John Koskinen, the company's interim chief executive, said in a statement that Kellermann, "was a man of great talents .... His extraordinary work ethic and integrity inspired all who worked with him."
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement that "our deepest sympathies are with his family and his colleagues at Freddie Mac during this difficult time."
Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae have both come under fire from lawmakers as they plan to pay more than $210 million in bonuses through next year to give workers the incentive to stay in
their jobs. Kellermann was in line to receive retention awards totaling $850,000 over the next year.
Associated Press Writers Matt Small, Devlin Barrett and Matt
Apuzzo contributed to this report.