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Baldwin Builders Dismisses Irvine Construction Executive

March 18, 1994|DEBORA VRANA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEWPORT BEACH — Kevin Fleming is the latest Baldwin Builders executive to leave the Newport Beach home builder.

In the past five months, all three of Baldwin's division presidents have either resigned or been terminated.

Fleming, who joined the company in 1987, was removed from his job as executive vice president of construction in Irvine on March 10. During his tenure he had overseen construction of more than 1,000 homes in Southern California.

"We just laid him off because we're eliminating his position," Al Baldwin, company president, said Thursday. "This has nothing to do with the others; it's completely independent."

Robert B. Burns, the former head of Baldwin's Los Angeles-Ventura division, filed a $35-million breach of contract and fraud suit on Jan. 25 against the company and its owners, James and Al Baldwin.

In the suit, filed after he resigned, Burns alleged that the Baldwin brothers made oral assurances that he was a 10% partner in all company projects in his division but failed to disclose that agreement to investors in a $155-million bond offering last year. If that were true, bondholders could raise questions about whether the company violated federal disclosure rules.

On Thursday, in his first public comment on Burns' lawsuit, Al Baldwin said it was "completely without merit and untrue."

"We have a management team that's very strong in home building," Baldwin said. "Our bondholders are not concerned."

Former Orange County Division President Geoff Fearns, who resigned from the company in November, has filed an arbitration action against Baldwin charging breach of contract, forced resignation and fraud.

Another executive, former San Diego Division President Greg Smith, was terminated by the company, according to Burns' suit.

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