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Tetanus Bacteria Found at Biofem Headquarters

May 12, 2000

IRVINE — Health officials said Thursday that biological material found at Biofem Inc.'s Irvine headquarters contained tetanus bacteria.

Authorities found no evidence, however, that the material was intended for biological weapons or any other use that might pose a public threat, said Dr. Mark Horton, Orange County health officer. Neither of two types of bacteria found at the company's office in March are on the national Centers for Disease Control's list of bio-terrorism agents, he said.

Nor did the two types have any connection to Biofem research, said Michael Hamrell, a scientific consultant to the company.

"They would have to do with Dr. [Larry] Ford's own activity," Hamrell said. "He was storing [the material] without our knowledge. He was doing a lot of things without our knowledge."

The investigation of the substances is part of a probe that began when a masked gunman tried to kill Ford's business partner, Dr. James Patrick Riley, who was wounded in the face Feb. 28 as he arrived for work at his Irvine office. Three days later, Ford fatally shot himself after police searched his home in connection with the attack on Riley.

The search uncovered a cache of weapons and suspicious substances at Ford's home, prompting investigators to evacuate about 200 people in the neighborhood until the materials were removed. Police also found hazardous materials in an Irvine storage locker rented by Ford.

Los Angeles businessman Dino D'Saachs, 56, was charged with driving the gunman to and from the scene of the shooting. D'Saachs, a close friend of Ford's for 20 years, has pleaded not guilty.

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