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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

One Man Charged in Theft of Oscar Statues

March 22, 2000

A trucker pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges that he stole 55 Oscar statuettes from a loading dock where he worked; prosecutors declined to file charges against a co-worker arrested with him.

Roadway Express truck driver Lawrence Ledent, 38, of Los Angeles, was charged with one count of grand theft in connection with the March 8 disappearance of the Oscars.

Roadway Express dockworker Anthony Keith Hart, 38, of La Puente, who also was arrested, was to be released, according to prosecutors. Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregson A. Somes declined to file charges against him, citing insufficient evidence.

Fifty-two of the statuettes were recovered over the weekend, after a junk salvager found them next to a trash bin in Koreatown and notified police. Police are still searching for the other three.

The disappearance of the statuettes marked the second mishap the Academy has experienced this month in connection with Sunday's 72nd Academy Awards. Earlier, about 4,200 Academy Award ballots were misrouted and turned up at a bulk mail facility in Bell.

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