Ex-Sunwest exec indicted on financial fraud charges

PORTLAND — The former chief executive of a Salem-based chain of retirement centers has been indicted on charges he defrauded more than 1,000 investors of $130 million.

Prosecutors say Jon Harder operated what amounted to a Ponzi scheme, raising money from investors and banks during the collapse of his Sunwest Management chain of more than 300 assisted-living centers and related operations.

The company housed more than 15,000 people with an average age of 85. At one time it operated several centers in Southern Oregon, including Eagle Cove Retirement and Assisted Living in Eagle Point, Morrow Heights on Wards Creek Road in Rogue River and three in Grants Pass — The Suites on Southeast Parkdale Drive, Spring Meadow Cottages on Shady Lane and Spring Meadow Retirement Community on Redwood Circle.

Sunwest also managed the Mountain View Retirement and Assisted Living facility in Ashland.

Harder stepped aside in 2009, the company went through reorganization, and a private equity company bought most of Sunwest's holdings.

Harder was accused Wednesday in a sealed indictment.

Authorities say he had been living in North Dakota and surrendered on Thursday in Portland.

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