Normal Heights Man Held Without Bail in Bias Case

Times Staff Writer

A federal magistrate Monday ordered a Normal Heights man held without bail on charges that he tried to scare witnesses from testifying before a federal grand jury about his son’s alleged threats against a black family who moved into their neighborhood.

Earl Matthew Maas, 51, was arrested by the FBI Friday on charges that he conspired with his son, Michael Eugene Maas, 27, to cover up acts of intimidation that prosecutors say ultimately drove the black family from the area. The son was sentenced last week in San Diego County Superior Court for breaking his girlfriend’s arms with a spiked baseball bat in a related case.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jun. 04, 1986 For the Record Wrong Man Named
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 4, 1986 San Diego County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 3 Column 4 Metro Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
A Tuesday article about a federal civil rights case incorrectly stated that a magistrate ordered defense attorney Earl Durham held without bond. It was Durham’s client, Earl Maas, who was ordered to remain in jail.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Lynne Lasry played a tape recording Monday for U.S. Magistrate Harry McCue in which another of Maas’ sons, David, said his father placed a cocked pistol down the throat of one witness who had been called to testify before the grand jury.

Lasry said Earl Maas kept at least 12 guns in his house on Mansfield Street in Normal Heights, on a lot that also included Michael Maas’ home. FBI Special Agent Anthony DeLorenzo testified that there had been several shootings around the houses in the last two months, including an incident April 1 in which a 12-year-old child was shot.


During FBI surveillance of the houses last week, DeLorenzo said, an elderly neighbor approached him to say the family was “very dangerous” and that neighbors “would do anything to get rid of them . . . if we could get rid of them without anyone knowing who we are.”

Defense attorney Earl Durham argued that prosecutors painted a wholly inaccurate picture of the elder Maas, whom he described as “a pillar of the community” and “an upstanding businessman” who owns an electrical shop and is a 32nd-degree Mason.

Durham challenged the truthfulness of two key government witnesses’ testimony against Maas, saying the witnesses were “narcotics addicts” who had invented “fantastic” stories to smear him. One of the witnesses, he said, is seeking vengeance because Maas threw him off the family property when he was found to be manufacturing liquid methamphetamine in Maas’ garage.

“Why would he believe Earl Maas, based on no more than the ravings of this drug addict, would be a danger to the community?” Durham asked in arguing that bail be set.


McCue, however, said he had no choice but to order Durham held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail.

“In my experience,” he said, “decent, law-abiding individuals don’t conduct themselves in that manner.”