Currie Gets Right to See Search Affidavit
Friday, July 4, 2008
A federal judge yesterday ordered prosecutors to release to an attorney for state Sen. Ulysses Currie an affidavit justifying a search of Currie's District Heights home in May.
The affidavit should clarify the federal investigation into Currie's activities and could help Dale Kelberman defend him against possible criminal charges. Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm also ordered prosecutors to provide Currie copies of all documents seized during the raid.
The FBI raided Currie's home May 29, the same day agents seized documents and computers from the Lanham headquarters of Shoppers Food & Pharmacy. Grocery chain officials have said Currie (D-Prince George's) was an outside consultant for the company, but he did not disclose the relationship on state ethics forms.
Since then, the U.S. attorney's office has served subpoenas on five state agencies seeking documents tracking Currie's involvement with the company.
The affidavit was not immediately released to the public, and Kelberman urged the judge to keep it under seal.
Kelberman compared it to cases, often violent crime cases, where judges have sealed plea agreements to protect those pleading guilty. In those cases, he said there is a "higher value" at stake and that a similarly higher value is at stake in the Currie investigation.
Kelberman also sought unsuccessfully to have the hearing closed to the public.
Newly released documents have shed light on Currie's involvement with the redevelopment of a Baltimore mall where a Shoppers Food and Pharmacy opened in 2007. The documents from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development were first reported by the Baltimore Sun. DBED received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney's office Tuesday.
The documents and interviews show that Currie participated in at least two meetings with state officials, the mall owner and executives for Supervalu Inc., the grocery's parent company, to try to speed up the rehabilitation of the decrepit Mondawmin Mall.
Kelberman declined to comment after the court hearing. Another attorney, Billy Murphy Jr., did not return a call about the documents.
The senator convened a meeting in December 2003, with Shoppers executives, Mondawmin owner Rouse Company and then-Maryland Secretary of Transportation Robert L. Flanagan, to discuss options for moving a Motor Vehicle Administration office located on mall property. Rouse officials wanted to move the MVA office as part of their renovation project.
According to minutes of the meeting prepared by a Rouse executive, Supervalu officials also lobbied Flanagan about traffic issues at another store at the meeting.