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Developer enters not-guilty plea

Joseph G. Ward, right, appears in court with his attorney, Richard Bechtolt, on Wednesday.  (Dan Pelle)
Joseph G. Ward, right, appears in court with his attorney, Richard Bechtolt, on Wednesday. (Dan Pelle)

A 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 investigating alleged criminal activity ranging from insurance fraud and stolen property possession to methamphetamine trafficking and videotaped orgies with prostitutes.

Ward and his lawyer, Richard Bechtolt, declined comment after the arraignment.

Meghann M. Cuniff



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