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Young indictment leaves questions Ex-legislator's other consulting deals not addressed

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The grand jury bribery and extortion indictment of Larry Young handed up Monday brought to an end a yearlong investigation, but it leaves unanswered a number of questions about the former state senator's other activities -- and if he will be prosecuted for them.

The indictment raises questions about what role, if any, key members of the Glendening administration might have played in Young's lobbying campaign to help a health care company that allegedly rewarded him with payoffs and personal computers.

Issued by an Anne Arundel grand jury, the indictment focuses on allegations that Young extorted more than $72,000 from the PrimeHealth Corp. and an affiliated company, Diagnostic Health Imaging Systems Inc.

But the indictment ends there, stopping short of addressing Young's other consulting deals, his ties to other health care companies and executives, and his former practice of using tax dollars to subsidize his private businesses.

The indictment also does not specifically address a series of payments that PrimeHealth allegedly made to Young totaling nearly $91,000. State agents wrote in a sworn affidavit last April that they had reason to believe records of those payments were altered to conceal the fact that Young was the recipient.

The indictment makes no direct mention of those payments, nor does it offer any indication of whether anyone will be charged with making the alleged alterations and providing the falsified documents to the grand jury.

State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said yesterday that, as far as his office is concerned, the investigation is over.

"We've completed our investigation, and we don't intend to open any other investigations of Larry Young," Montanarelli said. "Our primary focus was PrimeHealth and the DHIS allegations. We focused on what we thought were the most serious offenses."

Nonetheless, the probe could be reopened if new evidence or witnesses were to surface.

'Bill of particulars'

Some additional details of the charges will gradually become public as Young's case proceeds toward a trial. Montanarelli's office, for instance, will likely be required to file a "bill of particulars," spelling out the details of the charges and naming any unindicted co-conspirators.

Untouched by the state grand jury indictment are a number of allegations involving Young that were first raised in an article published by The Sun in December 1997. Those claims were later confirmed by the legislature's ethics committee, which said Young "brought dishonor" upon the General Assembly and recommended that he be expeled.

Young was removed from office Jan. 16, the first expulsion in Maryland in 201 years.

Some of the original allegations, including the consulting fees Young collected from Coppin State College, are the subject of a federal grand jury probe. That panel also has been examining Young's relationship with American Ambulance & Oxygen Co. and its owner, Willie Runyon.

David R. Knowlton, special agent in charge of the FBI in Maryland, which is conducting the U.S. investigation of Young, declined to say whether federal grand jury indictments are forthcoming.

The other allegations not addressed by Monday's indictment include:

Young forged a $7,000-a-month consulting pact with Merit Behavioral Care Corp., a company that was seeking a multimillion-dollar state contract. Ethics investigators said they found little evidence to show that Young did any work for the consulting fees.

Fees

Young collected fees of up to $300 an hour from a U.S. Department of Energy grant to the Baltimore branch of the Urban League. Federal auditors found that Young's private consulting company, the LY Group, may have been overpaid by as much as $25,800.

Young used his state- financed office to help subsidize at least three corporations the former senator controlled. Records show that the public subsidized the phone bills and rent payments for his private corporations.

Young used a state-paid legislative aide, who also was on a city payroll, to serve as his personal chauffeur.

Monday's indictment was returned after grand jurors took testimony from several last-minute witnesses, including Major F. Riddick Jr., Gov. Parris N. Glendening's chief of staff. He was one of several state officials called to testify before the panel in the past 11 months.

Young had enlisted the assistance of several key Glendening officials in his quest to help PrimeHealth win a contract to serve Medicaid patients in Maryland. Health Secretary Martin P. Wasserman went so far as to request a change in a state rule to clear the regulatory path for PrimeHealth.

Riddick declined to say yesterday what he told the grand jury.

"I respect the integrity of the grand jury process," he said. "They have a job to do. It's now in the court system, and I'm not going to comment on it. It's unfortunate. We did what we had to do, and now it's time to move on."

Riddick's attorney, William C. Brennan, said his client was called to testify about a technical matter, and he spent about 15 minutes before the panel. "Major was a mere technical witness before the grand jury," Brennan said. "That's it."

During the past few months, the grand jurors heard from at least two other top Glendening administration officials -- Joseph M. Millstone, then-director of medical care policy, and Barbara Shipnuck, then-deputy health secretary. They testified about Prime-Health's application to become a health maintenance organization in Maryland.

Memo

Shipnuck, who is no longer with the administration, had written a memo to the governor's deputy chief of staff, describing her agency's assistance to PrimeHealth as far exceeding the help that had been provided to other firms. Shipnuck added that no other firm "was provided this opportunity."

Montanarelli declined to say why Riddick and the other administration officials were called to testify, but he said yesterday that neither Glendening's chief of staff "nor anyone else in the administration is a target of the investigation."

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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