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3 Developers Indicted on Fraud Charges : Courts: The men, two from O.C., are accused of swindling a Louisiana savings bank. Each faces up 54 years in prison and $2 million in fines.

August 14, 1993|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

NEW ORLEANS — Three land developers, two of whom are from Orange County, were indicted Friday on charges of defrauding Louisiana's now-failed Oak Tree Savings Bank.

U.S. Atty. Robert Boitmann in New Orleans said that Robert Dupre of Newport Beach and Michael Barrack of San Juan Capistrano were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank bribery and filing false statements to a financial institution. Also indicted on the same charges was W. Harold Sellers of Houston.

If convicted on all charges, each man could be sentenced to as long as 54 years in prison and more than $2 million in fines.

In 1988, Sellers, Dupre and Barrack, using the name LaJolla Pacific Equities, said they needed to borrow $69 million to refinance four parcels of land in a development called Inland Empire, the release said. However, the three men put about $7 million of that money into personal bank accounts, some of them in the Cayman Islands, Boitmann alleged. Sellers and Dupre are also charged with putting some more of the money into another company without Oak Tree Savings' authorization.

The indictment charges that, in connection with the refinancing and diversion of funds, Sellers and Dupre made illegal payments to John W. Ohanian Jr., an official with Landmark Land of California and Oak Tree Savings, Boitmann said.

Ohanian, of Santa Ana, was also indicted for receiving unlawful gratuities as an official with Oak Tree Savings. If convicted, he could be sentenced to as long as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Oak Tree was Louisiana's biggest thrift, with $2.2 billion in assets, before regulators seized it in October 1991. It was owned by Landmark Land Co. of Carmel, Calif., but Oak Tree subsidiaries held Landmark Land's real estate empire and, for many years, bankrolled projects for those development subsidiaries.

The Resolution Trust Co. seized Oak Tree two days after six of the most prominent Landmark subsidiaries filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The real estate units owed more than $900 million to Oak Tree.

After a court fight, the RTC sold six of Landmark Land's luxury golf resorts last month for $350 million.

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