Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Jurors will soon be deliberating the fate of a Maryland State Senator accused of taking bribes.
Derek Valcourt has been following the case against Ulysses Currie and has more on the questions facing the jury.
It boils down to which side the jury believes– is he an honest man whose only mistake was sloppy paperwork? Or is he a crooked politician who sold his power?
Reporter: “Senator, are you feeling confident about this trial?”
Sen. Currie: “No comment.”
Prince George’s County’s Sen. Currie faces the possibility of jail time if a jury agrees with prosecutors that the former chair of the state’s powerful Budget and Taxation Committee took nearly a quarter of a million dollars in bribe money from grocery chain Shoppers Food from 2003 to 2008.
It’s been more than three years since the FBI, armed with warrants, swooped in on Currie’s home and the offices of Shoppers Food alleging Currie used his political power to benefit the grocery chain.
“They went through the house room by room and examined my boxes,” Currie said.
Currie’s lawyers argue he worked for Shoppers as a paid consultant and insist he did nothing illegal.
Shirley Gravely-Currie testified that her husband’s failure to disclose his paid relationship with Shoppers on state ethics forms as required was her fault, saying she does all of his paperwork because he is unorganized.
Jurors also heard in person from some high-profile politicians, including former governor Bob Ehrlich, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, all calling Currie an honest man.
“There’s a fine line in our society between paid lobbying and bribery,” legal expert Byron Warnken said.
Warnken says Currie may be convicted if prosecutors can convince the jury the 74-year-old knew what he was doing was wrong.
“But they are going to have to persuade all 12 of them beyond a reasonable doubt that what he did was done with the intent for illegal gain,” Warnken said.
Attorneys expect two more days of testimony. Closing arguments and deliberations are expected Wednesday.
The trial is now entering its sixth week of testimony.