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Retrial Denied Over Razed Trees in Ojai

Los Angeles real estate broker William Kaddis, who was convicted of bulldozing 300 oaks on his 44-acre ranch, now faces jail time.

August 07, 2004|From a Times Staff Writer

An Ojai Valley property owner convicted of illegally bulldozing 300 oak trees will soon have to begin serving his time in Ventura County Jail after his request for a retrial was turned down, officials said Friday.

William Kaddis, a Los Angeles real estate broker who owns a 44-acre ranch in the Ojai Valley, was found guilty last year of 11 criminal counts stemming from the clearing of nearly half of his property off Baldwin Road in the fall of 2001.

He was placed on probation for 60 months, ordered to pay $500,000 to the Ojai Land Conservancy for an oak tree restoration program and sentenced to 210 days in jail.

But his jail sentence was stayed and the bulk of his payments to the conservancy were to be paid pending the outcome of his appeal.

In his argument to the Superior Court's appellate division, Kaddis said he had traced ownership of his land to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican-American War.

He argued that the land was protected under a federal patent granted to the original landowner and therefore was not subject to the state's police power, zoning authority or regulatory measures.

However, the three justices were not swayed.

"The cases ... cited do not support such a whimsical proposition, and we reject it," they stated in their ruling issued Tuesday.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Schwartz said he had been confident that the appellate court would reject Kaddis' arguments for a new trial.

"He had a wide variety of arguments, including some obscure constitutional issues," Schwartz said.

"But his arguments didn't have any legal merit."

Kaddis, who is out on bail and could not be reached for comment Friday, faces an Oct. 5 hearing in Ventura County Superior Court over violations of his probation, which could add another 120 days to his jail sentence.

Kaddis will begin serving his time after that hearing, Schwartz said.

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