Portraying former legislator Bruce E. Young as a politician who boasted of "running the state," federal prosecutors Friday called a series of witnesses who told of a massive pro-fireworks lobbying effort in 1981 involving Young and convicted political corrupter W. Patrick Moriarty.
The lobbying campaign was on behalf of legislation sought by Moriarty, the owner of the largest fireworks company in the United States, that would have legalized the sale of so-called "safe-and-sane" fireworks throughout California and increased Moriarty's business by $8 million annually.
Albert Hole, a former state fire marshal who later worked in a variety of jobs for Moriarty, testified at Young's trial on political corruption charges in Los Angeles federal court that he met with Young and Moriarty during the planning stages of the legislative effort and warned them that they faced strong opposition from California fire officials.
'We'll Show Them'
He said Young dismissed the opposition of the California Fire Chiefs Assn. with a profane remark and quoted the former Norwalk Democratic assemblyman as saying: "We'll show them who's running this state."
The pro-fireworks measure was added to an innocuous Senate bill known as SB 999, introduced by state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), which would have regulated fire hose nozzles. The amended version was ultimately vetoed in 1982 by then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. after narrowly passing the California Assembly and Senate.
Another prosecution witness, Barbara Staman, said she was working for Young in 1981 as a legislative intern when officials from Moriarty's Red Devil Fireworks company moved into Young's Sacramento office to assist in the lobbying effort. She described a conversation with Young after a dinner hosted by Red Devil officials.
"I said I thought it was very nice of Red Devil to take us to dinner," Staman said. "He said something to the effect that was a small price compared to what they would be paying."
Young, 40, a legislator from 1976 to 1984, is charged with 28 counts of mail fraud in connection with political contributions and unreported income from Moriarty and a Los Angeles cable television corporation while he championed the pro-fireworks bill and other legislation favoring the cable television industry.
13 Witnesses So Far
Friday's witnesses were among 13 called so far by the government to outline the basic allegations against Young--that he failed to report his free use of a Ford Bronco leased for him by Moriarty for whom Young was working as a political consultant and that he also failed to report income from the cable firm, Falcon Communications.
When the trial resumes Tuesday, the prosecution is expected to call Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), a major opponent of the 1981 fireworks bill, to testify about Young's lobbying efforts. Sen. Barry Keene (D-Benicia) is another scheduled government witness.
The Young trial is part of a continuing four-year probe by the Orange County district attorney's office and the U.S. attorney's office into the corrupt political and banking activities of Moriarty. So far it has led to 11 convictions, including a seven-year prison sentence imposed last year on Moriarty.
While the corruption investigation is the most serious in California in the last three decades, there was a strangely light-hearted mood in the courtroom this week as Young played a bizarre game with one of the government investigators sitting at the prosecution table.
On a regular basis, when Orange County investigator John Walsh looked toward Young, the former assemblyman would stare back at him and move his lips in a barely audible imitation of a dog going "woof, woof."
'He Is a Mad Dog'
When asked why he was quietly barking at Walsh, Young said: "Moriarty told me he is a mad dog, and I should watch out for him because he is going to eat me up on the way to prison if I am convicted."
Neither Walsh nor prosecutors would comment, but Chief Assistant Orange County Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi approached Young's lawyers Friday during a break in the proceedings and gave them a toy rawhide dog bone to give to Young, saying it was to commemorate Young's "antics" during the trial.
Young, who stopped going "woof, woof" at Walsh on Friday, threw the dog bone away and did not appear to be amused.