Larry Young's legal peril Indictment: Charges of bribery, extortion add to weight of evidence that he betrayed his constituents.

December 16, 1998

THE SAD TALE of Larry Young continues.

Early this year, the veteran West Baltimore lawmaker was expelled from the Maryland Senate for turning his elective office into a profit-making enterprise. Now a state grand jury has indicted the former state senator on counts of bribery, extortion and a related tax-evasion charge.

The losers in this unfortunate set of events continue to be the impoverished Baltimore constituents who had put their faith in Mr. Young's integrity. They were betrayed.

It will be up to a jury to determine if the criminal charges are true. But the indictment parallels much of the information laid out a year ago by Sun reporters Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham about Mr. Young's conflicts of interest in using his public office for private gain.

At that time, Mr. Young said he viewed his legislative seat as a way to give himself "leverage." He prided himself as a health-care expert and persuaded Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller to create a subcommittee on health care. Mr. Miller then named Mr. Young to head that group. This proved the basis for Mr. Young's private business dealings to obtain state contracts for two Prince George's County health-care companies.

Not one but two veteran lawmakers were forced to give up their seats this year for violating conflict-of-interest rules. Mr. Young was expelled; Gerald J. Curran, a 32-year veteran of the House of Delegates, used better judgment and resigned. The resulting embarrassment for legislative leaders has led to a tough set of recommendations to tighten Maryland's ethics laws.

Mr. Young's legal perils have just begun. Not only must he defend himself in state court for allegedly shaking down health-care companies for $72,000, but a federal investigation of the ex-senator's activities continues.

Still, he remains defiant, refusing to admit wrongdoing.

To date, Mr. Young has given us few facts but plenty of angry rhetoric. Soon he will have his chance to make a full public explanation -- in court.

Regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear: Marylanders deserve better of their elected leaders. Public office is, indeed, a public trust.

As the legislature's Ethics Committee conclusively proved, Mr. Young violated that trust. It cost him his cherished Senate seat. Now he must answer criminal charges as well.

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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