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Developer Indicted for His Part in 1986 Purchase of UPI

April 30, 1993

HOUSTON (AP) _ A former junior partner in United Press International and two former thrift executives were indicted on federal fraud charges stemming from his 1986 purchase of an interest in the news service.

Ronald A. Piperi, former chairman of the failed First Savings of Orange; his son, Ronald D. Piperi, the thrift’s former vice president and loan officer; and Joe Russo are accused of conspiring to fraudulently obtain financing for Russo’s former 5 percent interest in UPI.

Wednesday’s 10-count indictment also charged the men with conspiring to defraud First Savings, and two defunct institutions that Russo owned or controlled, Ameriway Savings Association and Ameriway-Woodway Bank.

The indictment accuses the elder Piperi of having First Savings lend Russo $1.5 million, in exchange for which Russo had Ameriway and Ameriway-Woodway make $750,000 in unsecured loans to Piperi’s son.

The elder Piperi then used the loans obtained in his son’s name to purchase 100,000 shares in Flexible Computer Corp., a Dallas-based computer maker, the indictment says.

Russo was expected to surrender to authorities next week. He said in a statement that he was being unjustly singled out for prosecution.

Russo faces a June 29 trial on charges of conspiring with Raymond Oshman, former Hardin Savings and Loan president, to prop up each other’s business ventures with illegal loans.

The Piperis are scheduled for trial Sept. 28 on separate bank fraud charges involving First Savings of Orange.

Russo and majority partner Mario Vazquez-Rana, a Mexican businessmen, bought UPI for $41 million in 1986. It was sold two years later and has passed through several hands and bankruptcy courts before being sold last June to Middle East Broadcasting for $3.95 million cash.

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