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Trucker to Stand Trial in Theft of Oscars

May 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The Roadway Express truck driver charged with stealing 55 Oscar statuettes from the loading dock where he worked will stand trial on one charge of grand theft, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Lawrence Edward Ledent, 38, is so far the only man charged in connection with the March 8 incident, when the Academy Awards shipment--valued at $17,000--disappeared from the Roadway Express shipping facility in Bell.

Ledent and a second Roadway Express employee, dockworker Anthony Keith Hart, were arrested March 20, but prosecutors declined to file charges against Hart, 38, citing insufficient evidence.

At Tuesday's preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Michael K. Kellogg found there was sufficient evidence to order Ledent to stand trial and rejected Ledent's bid to have his charge reduced to receiving stolen property. He is to be arraigned May 30.

Los Angeles Police Det. Marc Zavala testified that Ledent had said he and Hart stole items from the Roadway Express dock on several previous occasions. But the detective said Ledent told him that he didn't initially realize the shipment contained the Oscars, and that when he discovered the statuettes, he panicked and decided to dump them.

Fifty-two of the Oscars were found by junk salvager Willie Fulgear while rummaging through trash in Koreatown. Three of the statuettes are still missing.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Navas said the investigation into Hart's case is continuing. Investigators also suspect that at least one other person was involved in the theft.

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