Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s another day of deliberations and still no decision on the guilt or innocence of a Maryland state senator on trial for accepting bribes.
Derek Valcourt has more on the question jurors asked the judge Monday.
The question may give us some insight into how the jury is leaning and, if so, it does not look good for the Prince George’s County senator.
Senator Ulysses Currie, 74, waits to learn his fate as jurors decide whether the evidence proves grocery chain Shoppers Food Warehouse paid Currie nearly a quarter of a million dollars in bribe money between 2003 and 2008 as prosecutors allege.
They say Currie secretly used his political power and influence to benefit the grocery chain, including a state deal lowering rent at Mondawmin Mall, legislation allowing Shoppers to transfer a liquor license, traffic lights near certain stores and an attempt to get millions in state grant money for a development that would have benefitted Shoppers.
But defense attorneys argue Currie’s work with Shoppers was perfectly legal and no secret, saying he hired attorneys to help him draft a consulting contract for Shoppers, that he paid taxes on his Shoppers money and that he’s an honest man who never made any political appearances on Shoppers’ behalf. His failure to disclose his work for Shoppers on state ethics forms as required, they chalk up to a paperwork error by his wife.
Monday afternoon, jurors asked the judge a single question about the bribery conspiracy charge facing Currie and two executives from Shoppers Food: “If we believe the conspiracy is not in effect in December of 2002 or even in January of 2003 (as alleged by the government) but might have started at a later date, possibly as much as two years later, can we find any of the defendants guilty on count one?”
The judge told them yes they could be found guilty as long as the jury believed beyond a reasonable doubt that the conspiracy began during the time period alleged by the government. There are nine other additional criminal charges to consider in the case. Deliberations are still underway.
The trial is entering its seventh week. Currie faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.