Young: 'I will not resign' Under ethics cloud, senator says he will take 'people's seat'

Rallies last night, today

State grand jury, FBI open investigations of possible crimes

Ethics Probe Of Senator Young

January 14, 1998|By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham | Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Ivan Penn, Lisa Respers, Kate Shatzkin and William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

As a grand jury began subpoenaing records as part of a criminal probe into Sen. Larry Young and the FBI announced plans to examine the case yesterday, the lawmaker defiantly told his supporters he will take his "people's seat" in the Senate at the start of the legislative session today.

In his first public comments since a state ethics committee recommended that he face an expulsion vote for using his office for personal gain, Young told hundreds of supporters last night that he changed his decision after a heartfelt conversation with his mother, Mable Payne.

Young had asked to be excused from the first week of the session.

"I said Mama, 'I'm tired.' I said, 'Mama, I really don't know if I can go the next step,' " he said last night at the Union Baptist Church in West Baltimore.

"And she got out of her chair, came over to me, and she said, 'You're my son and we will keep on going.'

"And I said, 'Mama, they're going to get uglier.' I said, 'Mama, they've got this thing and they're going to keep pressing.' She said, 'You're my baby. You're going to keep on keeping on.' "

Young invited his supporters to board buses this morning bound for Annapolis, where he said he would hold another rally outside the State House and then walk to his Senate seat with his family, friends and backers by his side.

"I invite you all to walk with me over to the people's seat," Young said.

As Young vowed to fight the charges and take his Senate seat, there were new developments in the conflict-of-interest case yesterday. They include:

State legislators said an overwhelming majority of the 47-member Senate would vote to expel Young, and pressure mounted for his resignation.

The co-chairman of the ethics committee called his resignation the "right thing" to do.

The state Board of Regents expanded its internal audit of a consulting contract between Young and his LY Group and Coppin State College to include a probe into an ethics committee finding that Young did little or no work for his fees.

Cathy Hughes, a defender of Young who co-owns a chain of radio stations, renounced a $500,000 loan she received from the General Assembly, calling it "blood money."

Standing in the sanctuary of the Union Baptist Church, filled with several hundred people including Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, Young said he changed his decision to stay away from Annapolis during the first week of the session because he wanted to hold his "head high."

"I will not resign," Young told the crowd.

"Larry, Larry, Larry," they chanted in response.

So many supporters showed up for Young's rally last night, it had to be moved from a community health clinic to the church two blocks away.

"You can't imagine how much it means to me to see all you here," he said.

Dozens of people hugged the senator. "We're with you, Larry," they told him.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he was saddened by Young's decision and said a resolution to expel Young could be introduced as soon as tomorrow.

The rally came after a busy day on several fronts in the case.

A grand jury in Annapolis investigating reports that Young traded on his legislative title to benefit his outside businesses began to issue subpoenas for records relating to Young's activities, sources said.

The subpoenas were issued the day after the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics recommended that Young be stripped of his chairmanships and face an expulsion vote in the Senate.

The grand jury, convened by state Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli, is seeking records from a city agency that employed an aide to Young; records from the state Legislative Services office, which funds the expenses of General Assembly members; and lease and payment records for Young's legislative office.

A spokesman for the Baltimore Public Works Department said the agency received a subpoena demanding employment records for an employee. He declined to identify the employee.

"Yes, we received a subpoena," said spokesman Robert Murrow, who referred calls to the State Prosecutor's Office. Montanarelli declined to comment.

Sources said the subpoenaed records relate to Pearly Blue Jr., who worked as Young's chauffeur while he was drawing a full-time salary as a Public Works laborer.

A top aide to Young wrote to a state parole officer stating that Blue was working as a driver for the senator and his consulting firm, the LY Group.

City records show Blue went on the public works payroll July 21. He was paid for a 40-hour week in the solid waste division for the entire period, which ended Sept. 29. Blue was paid $5.50 an hour.

Blue also turns up on a state payroll, records in Annapolis show. He was hired as a $1,000-a-month aide to Del. Ruth M. Kirk on Oct. 1 and stayed on her payroll until the end of November, the same time he was serving as a driver for Young. Kirk, a Democrat, shares office space with Young in the West Baltimore district office.

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