Nolan Protests His Innocence to Supporters


A week after he pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, a tearful former Assemblyman Pat Nolan protested his innocence before a roomful of emotional supporters in Burbank on Thursday night, walking them through the FBI’s recorded evidence against him.

Surrounded by about 170 backers at a Holiday Inn, Nolan said: “I’m going to do my time, but they are not going to shut me up.”

Defiant and at times tearful, Nolan told the crowd that he had no regrets over his guilty plea because, “I am now free to speak my mind.”


Nolan plans to spend his prison time writing a book about “the abuses of the federal judicial system,” he said. “I want to change it so other people don’t have to go through this torment.

“They’ve taken their best shot,” Nolan, 43, said of federal prosecutors who secured indictments against him on six counts of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion and money-laundering.

“They’ve shot me and they’ve made me mad,” he said. “Now I’m a wounded bull elephant.”

In exchange for a 33-month sentence--instead of the eight years he might have faced had he gone to trial and lost--Nolan pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering last week. In so doing, he filed a sworn statement in U.S. District Court describing his Assembly office as a racketeering enterprise for extorting campaign contributions in 1988 from those who sought legislative favors.

But on Thursday night he said he admitted accepting the $20,000 in question--which the FBI said were bribes--but maintained he did so only to strengthen the Republican leadership, not to benefit himself.

The prospect of facing overzealous prosecutors and unfavorable courtroom odds--instead of his conscience--led him to plead guilty, Nolan said.

In an attempt to show how the FBI and U.S. attorneys fell short of proving that he intended to sell his vote, Nolan passed out transcripts of the FBI’s secretly recorded conversations with him. In one session between him and an undercover agent seeking assurances that Nolan would persuade the governor to sign a bill, Nolan is quoted as saying, “There’s no way we can guarantee anything like that.”


Nolan also maintained that he did not bring up the subject of campaign contributions with the agent. He also played the FBI’s secretly made videotape of a hotel room meeting in which an agent passed two checks for $5,000 apiece to Nolan.

The low angle of the camera and the grainy black-and-white quality of the film was meant to give the tape a sinister appearance, he said.

Nolan said he will spend the next month before he reports to prison March 28 making arrangements for the support of his wife, Gail, and three children, ages 5 and under.

While Nolan is in prison, supporters said, a trust fund set up to receive donations will help Nolan’s wife pay household bills.

Several times during his speech, Nolan had to stop to regain composure. Many in the crowd also were moved to tears.

Rand Brooks, a Glendale businessman and retired actor, said after the event: “He was framed, but good. When you read the actual transcript, you can’t find anything wrong there. He’s a straight-shooting honest guy.”