New Jersey real estate firm owner accused in $1M arson

Harcourt “Paul” Ward allegedly torched six commercial vehicles


The owner of a Point Pleasant real estate firm is accused of setting fire to six commercial vehicles at a local business, causing more than $1 million in damages.

Toms River resident Harcourt “Paul” S. Ward, 69, of Ward Realty is facing four counts of second-degree arson in connection with the late-September incident, reported.

Officials on Friday released few details other than police were called to a Wall commercial neighborhood around 10 p.m. on Sept. 26 to respond to the blaze, which they say Ward set.

Police, who have not released a motive for the incident, said their investigation is ongoing. It was not clear if Ward was represented by an attorney.

Ward Realty is a family run firm of four generations that has been in business since 1926, according to its website.

The firm represents buyers, sellers and renters along the Jersey Shore, and says on its website that it earns more than $2.5 million a year in rental fees alone.

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Its tagline on is “Service, Courtesy, Results!”

Real estate agents don’t often face arson charges. When they are accused of breaking the law, it’s typically financially related.

For example, a Virginia couple last month was sentenced to prison after they used one of their real estate jobs to steal people’s identities.

Caprice Foster, 51, and her husband 33-year-old Marcus Foster stole $632,500 by using false identification, tax and employment documents to buy luxury vehicles, lease high-end residences and get loans, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Caprice Foster was sentenced to 80 months in prison, while Marcus Foster was sentenced to 58 months.

In another case earlier this year, New England real estate broker Michael Flavin was sentenced to 30 months in prison after defrauding prospective homebuyers of millions of dollars over a three-year period.

— Ted Glanzer