Federal Jury Acquits Sen. Currie In Bribery Trial, Ethics Still A Concern
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Vindication for the Prince George’s County senator accused of taking bribes from a grocery chain. A jury found Sen. Ulysses Currie not guilty of all charges against him.
Derek Valcourt has reaction from the embattled politician and from one of the jurors who decided the case.
After a six and half week trial and three and half days of deliberations, the jury handed Currie and his defense teams a sweeping victory and a crushing defeat for the prosecution.
Senator Currie, his wife and lawyers were all smiles as they left the federal courthouse.
He’s vindicated of accusations that he illegally used his political power and influence to benefit grocery chain Shoppers Food Warehouse in exchange for nearly a quarter of a million dollars from 2003 until mid 2008 when the FBI first raided his home for evidence.
“This has been a rough four years, almost four years, for my wife, my family and also for my constituents, so this is the greatest moment of my life,” Currie said.
Currie’s defense argued his paid consulting job for Shoppers may have been a conflict of interest but not, as the prosecutors contended, a bribery conspiracy.
His two attorneys tried to convince jurors he was an honest man who never set out to do anything illegal.
“We don’t believe that innocence was proven,” said Steven Cason.
But jurors like Cason told WJZ they were not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Currie intended to break the law in his work for Shoppers.
“He was looking out for their interests,” Cason said. “I think he was cognizant of the ethical lines that need to be respected. We’re not convinced that he always met the goal on that, but it’s a hard call to make.”
Currie is now returning to politics without the cloud of conviction over his head
“I will continue to serve my constituents as long as they will want me to do,” he said.
U.S Attorney Rod Rosenstein issued a brief statement saying he is aware many corruption trials end in acquittals. He says he will not complain about the outcome of this trial.
Currie’s criminal case may be over, but it’s not the last he’ll hear of his relationship with Shoppers. It’s likely the General Assembly will look into possible ethics violations against Currie.