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Lawyer Suing Cops Has Oscar

April 6, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ One of three missing Oscars is apparently in the custody of a lawyer planning to sue police on behalf of a man arrested but not charged in the theft of 55 statuettes.

Attorney Stephen Yagman said he planned to display the Oscar during a news conference Thursday to release details about the federal civil rights lawsuit.

Yagman, a prominent lawyer who often represents people suing police departments, was not immediately available for comment on how he got the Oscar.

The Oscars were stolen early last month from a Roadway Express delivery facility in Bell, where they were shipped by a Chicago manufacturer in preparation for the Academy Awards on March 26.

A man found 52 of the statuettes stacked by a trash bin a week before the show and police announced on March 20 that two Roadway Express workers had been arrested.

Anthony Keith Hart and Lawrence Edward Ledent, both 38, were booked for investigation of grand theft and bail was set at $100,000 each. Ledent was charged but Hart was released and no charges were filed.

Yagman said he was filing the lawsuit seeking unspecified damages for arresting Hart without cause. Hart was fired by Roadway Express and his reputation was ruined by the media attention, the attorney said.

The announcement of the news conference gave no explanation of how the lawyer’s possession of an Oscar would show that police had had no cause to arrest Hart.

The police department was unaware Yagman had one of the missing Oscars and the department won’t discuss the case or the lawsuit, Officer Trevion Stokes said.

Willie Fulgear, the man who found most of the stolen statuettes, was given a $50,000 reward by Roadway Express and attended the Oscar ceremony as the guest of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Academy spokesman John Pavlik said he didn’t know anything about Yagman’s claim and would only say, ``I hope he plans to give it back.″

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