Normal Heights Incidents : Father and Son Are Indicted for Racial Attacks

A federal grand jury Friday indicted a father and son from Normal Heights on charges that they drove a black family from their neighborhood through racially motivated acts of intimidation and then conspired to cover up their offenses.

Charged in the 17-count indictment were Michael Eugene Maas, 27, and his father, Earl Matthew Maas, 51. They live at separate addresses near Mountain View Drive and Mansfield Street in Normal Heights.

Michael Maas is accused in the federal indictment of repeatedly committing acts of violence against a black family that moved into a home near his in October, 1984. He was sentenced Thursday to three years in state prison for breaking both arms of his former girlfriend with a spiked baseball bat in an incident related to the federal case.

According to the federal indictment, Michael Mass placed a burning cross on the black family’s front lawn several weeks after they moved into the neighborhood. Two weeks later, the indictment alleges, he sent the family a racist hate letter. In April, 1985, it says, he set their truck on fire in the driveway of their home.

The black couple and their child ultimately moved out of the neighborhood.


The indictment accuses the elder Maas of being an accessory after the fact and obstructing justice by allegedly hiding evidence that implicated his son and by terrorizing potential witnesses in the case.

At Earl Maas’ arraignment Friday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Lynne Lasry said the father placed a cocked pistol down the throat of one witness, Patrick Drew Irwin. Lasry said the elder Maas threatened to kill Irwin if he did not turn over some property and make sure Michael Maas’ ex-girlfriend, Deana Tolentino, refused to cooperate with authorities.

Earl Maas pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday. U.S. Magistrate Harry McCue agreed to a government request that the father be jailed without bail pending a detention hearing Monday. He faces a maximum sentence of nearly 31 years in prison and $1 million in fines for the five counts in which he is named.

Michael Maas, named in all 17 counts in the indictment, faces a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison and $3.8 million in fines. He is expected to be arraigned on the federal charges next week.

The younger Maas is a convicted felon, found guilty in 1976 of assault with a deadly weapon. In April, 1985, San Diego police arrested him in connection with an assault with a gun and machete on black men at a convenience store in Normal Heights.