Sirens & Gavels

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 2010, 6:36 P.M.

Developer pleads not guilty to theft

A once-prominent Spokane land developer pleaded not guilty to several felonies related to an alleged drug and stolen property ring investigators believe he ran from his Long Lake home.

Joseph G. Ward, 62, founder of Pinnacle Realty, is charged with two counts of first-degree theft, seven counts of first-degree possession of stolen property and one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle connected to a SWAT team raid at his Long Lake home on Jan. 7, 2009.

Ward was arrested that day and spent the night in jail. Washington State Patrol spent months on an investigation into alleged criminal activity ranging from insurance fraud and stolen property possession to major methamphetamine trafficking and videotaped orgies with prostitutes.

After his arrest, Ward thanked the State Patrol for stopping "something that I couldn’t stop myself," according to court documents, and said he’d be taking daily drug tests to help stay clean.

Ward and his lawyer, Richard Bechtolt, declined comment after the arraignment.Ward is at right, Bechtolt is at left.

Past coverage

March 22, 2010: Police seek developer's associate

Oct. 12, 2009: Shooting at Ward's home gets man 4 months

Sept. 30, 2009: Details emerge in probe of developer

June 26, 2009: Felon suspected of WSP lot break-in

Jan. 18, 2009: Realtor's arrest highlights perils of meth




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