Businessman Convicted of Fraud : Courts: Robert Dupre of Newport Beach is found guilty in connection with a federal probe into the failure of Louisiana’s Oak Tree Savings Bank. He and two other men face sentencing in the case.


Newport Beach businessman Robert Dupre has been convicted of fraud in connection with a three-year federal investigation into the 1991 failure of Oak Tree Savings Bank, Louisiana’s largest thrift.

Dupre and Houston lawyer W. Harold Sellers were found guilty on 14 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering on Aug. 19 in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. Before their trial, San Juan Capistrano businessman Michael Barrack had pleaded guilty to conspiracy after a federal probe of a $69-million loan made by Oak Tree to La Jolla Pacific Equities Inc., a company operated by Dupre, Sellers and Barrack.

On Aug. 19, jurors determined that Dupre and Sellers should forfeit $7 million in assets, the amount that the defendants allegedly took from the S&L.; The two businessmen also face prison sentences and fines of up to $4 million. Barrack faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing for the three men is set for Nov. 16 before U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans.


The three businessmen told S&L; executives that they wanted the $69 million to refinance $55.8 million in debt held by a Texas lender. But federal investigators alleged that Dupre, Barrack and Sellers illegally transferred $3 million of the money to numbered accounts in the Cayman Islands.

Investigators also alleged that Dupre and Sellers defrauded the now-failed S&L; out of an additional $4.2 million that was earmarked for purchasing property in Southern California. In fact, investigators alleged, Dupre and Sellers already owned the land under a corporate name. The $4.2 million was eventually transferred to their personal bank accounts, investigators, alleged.

Oak Tree, with $2.2 billion in assets, was Louisiana’s biggest thrift when the Resolution Trust Co. seized it in 1991. The S&L; was owned by Landmark Land Co. of Carmel, Calif., and Oak Tree subsidiaries held Landmark Land’s various real estate developments. The RTC seized the thrift two days after half a dozen Landmark Land subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy protection.