Panel demands Young papers State grand jury subpoenas documents of ethics commission

January 21, 1998|By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham | Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

A state grand jury investigating Larry Young has subpoenaed hundreds of records from the legislature's ethics committee, which examined the former state senator's outside business practices before recommending his expulsion, the co-chairman

of the committee said yesterday.

The subpoena was served on the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics late last week and orders the 12-member panel to provide its documents to the grand jury in Annapolis by Monday, said state Sen. Michael J. Collins, who co-chaired the ethics committee.

"The committee's documents have been subpoenaed," the Baltimore County Democrat said. "It's something we expected, and I don't see any problems."

Jervis S. Finney, the former U.S. attorney who served as independent counsel to the panel, said ethics committee

members will vote on whether to release the documents. But regardless of their vote, Finney said, the committee will probably be required to release the records.

Young and his lawyers had requested that the committee's proceedings be closed to the public and the documents be kept confidential.

"In my view, the weight of authority is the grand jury subpoenas would prevail over all other considerations," Finney said last night. "This is a matter of procedure rather than substance."

Young's lawyer declined to discuss the subpoena.

"I will not comment on any particulars of the investigation by the State Prosecutor's Office," Gregg L. Bernstein said.

State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli also declined to comment.

Since last week, a grand jury in Annapolis has been investigating reports that Young traded on his legislative title to benefit his outside businesses, which he ran out of his legislative office in West Baltimore.

The grand jury has been issuing a flurry of subpoenas relating to Young's Senate office and the corporations he controls.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore also are investigating whether Young broke federal laws.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has the power to convene a federal grand jury that could issue subpoenas of its own for records relating to Young and his corporations.

Hundreds of papers sought

The most recent grand jury subpoena to become public seeks hundreds of records examined by the ethics committee, including documents the committee obtained during its investigation and those it received from Young and his attorneys.

The committee's records include documents from the Legislative Services division of the General Assembly, the Motor Vehicle Administration, the State Department of Taxation, the state Legislative Auditor, the Maryland Stadium Authority, the State Comptroller, lobbying reports and ethics disclosure forms.

The committee also has dozens of records Young provided in the past few weeks during his defense of the conflict-of-interest charges.

Those records include billing statements, consulting and other contracts, corporate invoices, check stubs, rent payments and phone bills. Not included in those records are the former senator's tax returns.

NTC They would show the income Young received from the LY Group, a consulting firm the former senator incorporated under his name in 1996 and ran out of his district office.

Among the LY Group clients was Merit Behavioral Care Corp., a New Jersey firm that has actively sought contracts in Maryland. Merit paid Young and his corporations at least $115,400 in consulting and other fees over the past two years.

A spokeswoman for Merit said yesterday that she would neither confirm nor deny that the company's records have been subpoenaed by the grand jury.

Merit declined to respond to requests for information during the ethics probe, according to the committee report.

Young was expelled from the Senate on Friday, becoming the first senator ousted without being charged with or convicted of a crime in more than 200 years.

The ethics committee recommended his expulsion after examining a series of articles in The Sun and launching its own investigation into Young's activities.

The committee found that Young, who chaired a powerful health-care subcommittee, used his Senate position to benefit himself and his corporations.

The panel said Young collected thousands of dollars in consulting and other fees from Coppin State College and health-care companies, but provided little or no documentation for the services he claimed he performed.

Betrayal of trust

On Jan. 12, the committee said Young had "betrayed the public trust" and recommended that he be stripped of his powers and face a Senate expulsion vote.

Four days later, the Senate voted 36-10, with one member abstaining, to remove the 24-year veteran of the General Assembly from office.

Young's lawyers say their client is considering his political and legal options.

He stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, and checked out of the hotel yesterday.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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