Prosecutors to Seek Files From Md. State Senator

By Rosalind S. Helderman and John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 31, 2008

Federal prosecutors are seeking to subpoena a wide range of documents and computer files from the Annapolis office of Sen. Ulysses Currie as part of their investigation of the powerful Prince George's County Democrat, according to legislative staff members who were notified of the plan yesterday.

Word of the U.S. attorney's intentions came a day after the FBI raided the home of Currie, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, as well as the headquarters of a supermarket chain for which Currie has served as a consultant without disclosing the relationship in ethics filings.

The FBI has been investigating Currie for at least nine months, asking whether the Maryland senator might have used his legislative position to benefit Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, a person interviewed by the FBI said yesterday.

Federal agents seemed particularly interested in tax issues, health-care proposals and other legislation Currie might been involved with that could benefit the company, said the source, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Metro confirmed yesterday that Currie attended two meetings in the past two years centering on Shoppers' interest in building a store on about 3 1/2 acres owned by Metro at the West Hyattsville Station, which is not in his district. Several participants said yesterday they knew of no tie between Currie and Shoppers at the time of the meetings.

Currie did not return a message yesterday, and his attorney Dale Kelberman declined to comment.

Lawyers for the General Assembly yesterday received a draft copy of the federal subpoena, which provides a number of weeks for legislative aides to provide files to the U.S. attorney's office and offers little indication where the investigation is headed, legislative staff members said.

The subpoena will be served on Karl S. Aro, executive director of the Department of Legislative Services, the nonpartisan agency that provides an array of services to legislators, including computer assistance, sources said. Lynne B. Porter, an executive assistant to Aro, confirmed that her office received a draft copy late yesterday that had been forwarded by lawyers at the state attorney general's office.

Officials in the state attorney general's office declined to comment, saying that Aro, who was out of town yesterday, had not formally received the subpoena. Some legislative staff also declined to speak publicly for the same reason.

The Metro spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, said Currie accompanied Charles Deegan, then a member of the Metro board of directors, to a meeting in late 2006 at which Shoppers' interest was discussed, a gathering at which Metro officials explained the agency only sells land to local governments or to private companies through competitive bidding. About six months ago, she said, Currie was again in attendance when Metro officials met with Shoppers executives and representatives of several Prince George's agencies to discuss whether the public Prince George's Redevelopment Authority could buy the land, with the intention that it eventually be developed as a Shoppers grocery.

She described the gathering as an early, "process meeting" and said discussions about the idea faded when it became clear that Prince George's officials were not in agreement about how to proceed.

Farbstein said that Currie's appearance at the meeting was a "complete surprise" and that the head of Metro's planning and development department knew of no tie between the senator and the grocery chain at the time. The Metro official "assumed he was there promoting the economic development of the county," she said.

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