1981 – Masry to appeal in Morningland case

Sept 15, 1981, Press Telegram

VISTA (AP) – Attorney Edward Masry, exonerated of charges that he solicited a $10,000 bribe three years ago allegedly destined for California Lt. Gov. Mervin Dymally, plans to appeal his conviction on another charge.

A San Diego Superior Court convicted Masry late last Friday, after a four-week trial, of obtaining money under false pretenses.

“Frankly, I was astonished the jury would find me guilty of that count,” the Sherman Oaks lawyer said in a telephone interview Monday. “We only expected a possible problem on the first account.”

But Masry said he will appeal because “we thought there was nothing to” the count on which he was found guilty.

A third count of embezzlement was thrown out by Judge F.D. Lopardo shortly after the trial began.

Masry was representing the Morningland religious sect when he allegedly was given $10,000 to offer Dymally in hope of getting a legislative committee set up to investigate police harassment of non-mainstream religions.

There was never an accusation against Dymally, who denied any involvement. A former associate of Masry, Dymally lost a 1978 re-election bid to Republican Mike Curb.

In his defense, Masry accused the Republican attorney general, George Deukmejian, of political harassment and selective prosecution. He acknowledged receiving $10,000 from Morningland but said it was for legal services.

Morningland was then based in Escondido but has since moved to Long Beach.

The controversial sect advocates astrology and telepathic contact with the dead. Masry’s ties with it date to the mid-1970s.

Both he and Morningland religious leader Sri Patricia were indicted by a San Diego County grand jury, but charges against the woman, also known as Patricia Sperato, were dismissed.

State investigators raided Masry’s Los Angeles-area offices as well as Morningland headquarters in 1979, seizing documents.

Shortly afterward, Masry filed the first of several lawsuits and a $15 million action against the attorney general.