Young pushes for trial in city

Arundel judge asked to dismiss charges or move case to Baltimore

July 02, 1999|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

The attorney for former state Sen. Larry Young has asked an Anne Arundel judge to throw out the corruption charges against the former chairman of a key legislative panel or transfer the case to Baltimore.

The request was filed recently in Annapolis with Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck, the judge assigned to the case. State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli has until the end of next week to respond; he declined to comment yesterday.

In another development, Christian E. Chinwuba, owner of a Lanham-based health care company and the man Young is accused of extorting, has filed a civil suit in Prince George's County charging the Maryland Insurance Administration and the state insurance commissioner personally with "unlawful, unethical and unfair public character assassination."

Chinwuba is seeking $30 million in punitive damages and $15 million in compensatory damages from the MIA and its commissioner, Steven B. Larsen. The suit charges that Larsen improperly released information about Prime-Health to the media and that he defamed Chinwuba by declaring that the radiologist was "untrustworthy, unfit and unreliable to own any interest in an HMO in the state of Maryland."

Attorneys for the state and the insurance commissioner have not formally responded to the allegations filed June 23. In a brief statement yesterday, Larsen said he was "confident that the lawsuit has absolutely no merit. I am also confident that the court will find that we acted lawfully and properly at all times."

In motions on Young's behalf, Gregg L. Bernstein argued that Young deserves to be tried by the people he is charged with betraying, his West Baltimore constituents in the 44th District. "The people who elected him and who ultimately were harmed by his alleged acts are located in Baltimore City," the motion states.

Young was ousted from the state Senate last year on ethics charges after a series of articles in The Sun detailed conflicts of interest involving the LY Group, Young's private consulting firm run out of his state-financed office in West Baltimore.

Young was indicted by an Anne Arundel County grand jury on Dec. 14 of last year on charges of bribery, extortion and filing a false tax return. The nine-count indictment charges that he demanded bribes in the form of cash, consulting contracts and computers from Chinwuba, the Prince George's physician who owned a radiology firm and then set up a minority owned health maintenance organization called PrimeHealth.

PrimeHealth, with Young's assistance, got a license from the state Insurance Administration and a multimillion dollar contract to serve welfare recipients. After the indictment, Larsen, the insurance commissioner, declared PrimeHealth insolvent. Under a subsequent court approved order, Larsen appointed a receiver, who is still running the company.

His lawyers say the evidence against Young, whose trial is to begin Sept. 7, shows payments were made in Prince George's County, not in Annapolis, where he served in the Senate and chaired a key legislative committee.

While conceding that Young worked and voted in Annapolis, his lawyer argued that it was the former senator's constituents in Baltimore who -- if the charges prove true -- were "deprived of his faithful and honest services."

Calling the 44th District "the core of the inner city," the Young motion states that his former district is 79 percent black and more than half of its families have combined income of less than $15,000. In contrast, it states, Anne Arundel County is 82.5 percent white and more than 45 percent of its residents earn more than $50,000 per year.

Bernstein also noted that Young kept a year-round office in Baltimore and the alleged bribes did not occur when the General Assembly was in session in Annapolis.

In the civil suit filed by Chinwuba, his attorneys charge that Larsen improperly released records about PrimeHealth to the media and made statements regarding his investigation to the media and the public. The suit also maintains that Chinwuba was deprived of an opportunity to refute the charges when state officials canceled an administrative hearing on the Prime health probe.

The suit charges that Larsen subsequently made public a report that "falsely charged Chinwuba with providing perjured testimony to the MIA in his attempt to obtain a benefit from the state of Maryland by fraud." That report was made public in March under an order approved by Baltimore City Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan.

Pub Date: 7/02/99

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