1980-Apr.: Bribe Charge

Dymally’s Attorney Indicted Here

Bribe Charge – April 4, 1980 San Diego Union

By Jon Standefer and Ken Hudson

Edward L. Masry, attorney for former Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally, and a religious cult leader known as Sri Patricia have been indicted by a San Diego County grand jury on charges of conspiring to solicit and pay a bribe to the former state official.

Although the indictments are still sealed, Masry and Sri Patricia, whose real name is Patricia Sperato, have agreed to surrender next Wednesday at Vista for arraignment on the charges, it was learned.

Masry, who represented the religious sect called Morningland in Escondido as well as Dymally, appeared on a Los Angeles religious television station last night to discuss the indictments that have followed a year-long investigation.

At one time, Morningland had a following of more than 400 members at the temple in Escondido but it was suddenly closed in the fall of 1978, when the possibility of wrong-doing was being raised.

Masry was indicted for solicitation of a $10,000 bribe from Morningland, to be paid to Dymally in exchange for his help in urging the state Legislature to investigate government harassment of the religious cult.

Masry and Sperato also were indicted for conspiracy to pay the bribe to Dymally, or, as an alternative indictment, that Masry was involved in grand theft by taking the money from Morningland under false pretenses by telling others in the cult that it was for a bribe.

Sperato also was indicted for misapplication of Morningland funds, the $10,000 that was involved. Masry also was indicted for misapplication of funds involving a trip to Hong Kong to retrieve some children of one of the ministers of Morningland. Dymally has been notified that he was not indicted, but he could not be reached last night for comment.

The FBI dropped a two-year investigation of Dymally’s activities in January, saying the probe did not turn up enough evidence to file charges. That investigation involved the reports of the Morningland conspiracy to bribe and also his involvement in a prepaid health plan while he was sponsoring legislation on such plans, and his investment in a real estate business that was under government scrutiny.

Investigation into Morningland, a sect that involved astrological, mystical-spiritual doctrines, telepathic teachings and astronomical reactions, first came on orders from the Escondido City Council after residents complained that their children were being alienated from them by the religion.

When the cult closed its doors in Escondido, which was at one time the headquarters, it became even stronger in Long Beach.

Masry’s Westwood and Sherman Oaks law offices were raided by California Department of Justice investigators – backed up by uniformed police – just a year ago and records seized.