Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A politician accused of bribery goes on trial. A jury has been selected for the case of state Senator Ulysses Currie.
Derek Valcourt has more on the charges Currie is facing.
For nearly nine hours Monday, prosecutors were working with attorneys for the defense as they tried to nail down a jury that will ultimately decide whether Currie is guilty of accepting bribes.
The 74-year-old state senator is familiar with political battles. But he’s now facing a legal one as prosecutors try to convince a jury that the Prince George’s County Democrat gave the Shoppers Food Grocery chain favors and special treatment in Annapolis. In exchange, they claim the store gave Currie almost a quarter of a million dollars.
It was May of 2008 when federal agents armed with warrants first seized evidence from the offices of Shoppers Food and from Currie’s home.
“They went through the house room by room, examined boxes,” Currie said.
The defense claims Currie believed he was acting as a private consultant for the grocery chain. Though he may have failed to report a conflict of interest, they argue his actions did not amount to a bribe.
Currie offered no comment at the start of his trial, but all along he has maintained his innocence.
“Getting upset—I don’t want to say it is a waste of energy–but I need to focus on my family and my child. And continue to focus on my constituents,” Currie said.
After his arrest, Currie stepped down as chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee, but he is still a member of the panel which controls all legislation related to the state budget.
Prosecutors dropped seven highly debated corruption charges after a ruling from the Supreme Court found a law he was charged with was too vague. But Currie still faces allegations of bribery and lying to federal investigators.
A jury was seated Monday. They are going to go for opening arguments first thing Tuesday morning in a trial that could last up to six weeks.