The Washington Post

With court delays, cloud of legal woes to linger over Md. politics

For Maryland politicos, September has long been marked with a big “X.” The end of the month promised to be a dark time with near simultaneous trials for bribery (longtime Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Sen. Ulysses S. Currie), and conspiracy to suppress black voter turnout (former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s campaign manager and political operative, Paul Schurick and Julius Henson).

Disgraced former Prince George’s County executive Jack B. Johnson was also scheduled to be sentenced this month.

If there was any good to the back-to-back court appearances, it seemed, it was that it would all be over soon.

Now, however, it may be Maryland’s fall and/or winter of discontent.

The case against Ehrlich’s aides has been split into separate trials, and both have been delayed until at least November, the state prosecutor’s office said Monday.

Mix in the scheduled-and-rescheduled sentencing of Johnson, and the legal woes may feel more like water torture for the remainder of the year. Maryland politicos will be dropping into state or federal court every month through December, and possibly longer.

For those keeping track at home, here’s the latest schedule, and a bit of a refresher:

— Sept. 26: State Sen. Ulysses S. Currie (D-Prince George’s), long a powerful and popular figure in the General Assembly, is scheduled to stand trial on charges that he took more than $245,000 in bribes to use his position and influence to help Shoppers grocery chain.

— Oct. 13: Former Prince George’s County council member Leslie Johnson (D) is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court. She pleaded guilty in June to trying to cover up bribes by flushing a $100,000 check down the toilet and stuffing $79,600 in her underwear as federal agents closed in during a far-reaching corruption probe that ensnared her husband, the former county executive.

— Nov. 15: Julius Henson, a consultant working to return Ehrlich (R) to the governor’s mansion, is scheduled to stand trial on multiple counts of election law violations stemming from an automated call that was placed to tens of thousands of Democrats last Election Day. According to the state prosecutor’s office, the calls were intended to trick black voters into thinking that there was no need to vote because incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had already won.

— Nov. 28: Paul E. Schurick, Ehrlich’s de facto campaign manager, is scheduled to stand trial separately. Schurick and Henson each face three counts of conspiracy to violate election laws, one count of influencing votes through fraud and one count of failing to identify the sponsor of the robo-calls. Schurick also faces one count of obstruction of justice.

— Dec. 6: Former Prince George’s County executive Johnson B. Johnson (D) is scheduled to be sentenced after admitting he accepted more than $400,000 in bribes during his eight years as county executive.

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.



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