Verdict humbling, Young says

Expelled lawmaker sidesteps question of re-entering politics

September 25, 1999|By Eric Siegel and Greg Garland | Eric Siegel and Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

For Larry Young and his supporters, there was elation and satisfaction last night at his acquittal on criminal charges stemming from his conduct in his office. For those in his political base in West Baltimore, there was surprise, with some mixed feelings about the verdict.

And for state Senate leaders who made Young the first person to be expelled from the General Assembly in two centuries, there was no second-guessing.

Young appeared before about a dozen supporters and several reporters shortly after 7 p.m. outside the downtown Baltimore offices of radio station WOLB-AM, where he has been the host of a daily talk show since shortly after his expulsion from the Senate.

Drawing on a biblical reference, Young described the last year and a half as a "Job experience for me" and said, "I can't think of anything that has made me more humble" than when the jury foreman announced the verdict.

He deftly parried questions about whether he was angry or bitter about his experience, or whether he would re-enter politics.

"It's an option that's now open, and one that I will explore," he said.

Young said he would "spend considerable time expressing my anger" on his show next week but added, "Right now, I'm going to express my joy."

The closest Young came to rancor was when he called The Sun a "fish paper" and later said obliquely, "I think there were some hidden agendas. I know there were some hidden agendas. I'll deal with that another time."

Tracy Richardson, an educational consultant and a longtime friend of Young who came to the station last night, said, "They put the facts on the table and it came out in his favor. That's great."

Pearly Blue Jr., who was Young's chauffeur during his last days in the Senate, greeted his former boss with a bear hug.

"The truth was a long time coming," said Blue. "I'd like to see him get an apology from the Maryland state Senate."

But Senate leaders felt they had nothing to apologize for.

"The judicial process took place, and the jurors spoke," said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. "I wish him and his family well.

"I'm sure Senate members individually, as well as collectively, wish him and his family the very best."

But he said the criminal trial and a legislative proceeding in January 1998 that led to the expulsion vote over Young's ethics violations were separate things that involved different issues.

Sen. Michael J. Collins, who argued for Young's expulsion as co-chairman of the General Assembly's ethics committee, said that panel did not deal with PrimeHealth, which was the focus of the criminal trial.

"The issues that were considered in the trial in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court were issues that were virtually not considered at all by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics," said Collins, a Baltimore County Democrat.

He said the committee did not have subpoena power when it conducted its investigation and did not have meaningful information about Young's dealings with Prime-Health when it issued its report recommending that the Senate consider expelling Young.

"The issues were just entirely different issues," Collins said. "This [the jury verdict] in no way invalidates, diminishes or even relates to the action of the committee. We dealt with the ethics law."

At Mondawmin Mall, Darnell Acree expressed surprise over the acquittal.

"I've been following the case, and I really didn't think it would go that way," said Acree, 46, who sells investment properties.

"I thought he was going to be found guilty. I'm not mad that he was acquitted, but from the evidence and stuff I've been reading, I thought there was a lot of evidence forming against him."

James Morant, who grew up with Acree and is also 46, also said he was surprised at the verdict.

"I would have expected him to get acquitted on some of the charges, but not all," he said. Calvin W. Holmes said the only reason charges were brought against Young in the first place is his race. "If he'd been white, they never would have bothered to try him," said Holmes, 71.

On Pennsylvania Avenue, Jake McCoy, an unemployed longshoreman, said the investigation and failed prosecution of Young were off-base to begin with.

"They were getting stuff out of the trash that shows you the investigation wasn't right. They were going after him from the get-go," he said.

Sun staff writers Kurt Streeter and Laurie Willis contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 9/25/99

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