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The Region

January 28, 1987

A Newport Beach businessman facing 22 counts of fraud has been acquitted of all charges by a federal court judge in Los Angeles. U.S. District Judge Harry L. Hupp ruled that John R. Ward did not intend to commit fraud and had no knowledge of any fraudulent activity when Ward's Southport Development Corp. became involved in a $14-million real estate deal. Ward and six others were indicted by a federal grand jury last May on charges stemming from the 1984 transaction to develop a 442-acre parcel in Chatsworth. The money, backed by mortgage guarantee bonds, was provided by 21 small financial institutions. The bonds, however, turned out to be worthless and the project was never built, according to testimony in Ward's trial. Ward chose to have his case heard by the judge at the same time as the jury trial for four other defendants. The jury has begun its deliberations. One of the remaining two defendants has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. The other is a fugitive.

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