Grand Jury Hears Pr. George's Delegate's Testimony

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 29, 2009; B04

A fellow state lawmaker from Prince George's County testified this week before a grand jury investigating Sen. Ulysses Currie, the latest public sign that a federal probe is continuing into the Democrat's work for a grocery store chain.

Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George's) confirmed in an interview that he was summoned to Baltimore on Wednesday for questions that focused on Currie's work for Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, which Currie did not include on financial disclosure forms until this year, after an FBI investigation became public.

Documents and interviews show that Currie, chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, intervened repeatedly with government agencies on issues of interest to Shoppers. Federal investigators have been scrutinizing a decision by the Prince George's liquor board to allow Shoppers to transfer a beer and wine license from its store near Takoma Park to one in College Park. Currie had voted on legislation in 2005 that allowed the transfer and later attended a lengthy liquor board hearing on the matter.

Davis and Currie represent the same Prince George's district, and Davis chairs the House Economic Matters Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation affecting liquor licenses.

"Because of the committee's jurisdiction, they wanted to probe that whole situation, but there wasn't much for me to say," said Davis, who said he was also interviewed by the FBI in late September.

Davis's appearance before the grand jury, which he said lasted about an hour, was first reported by the Baltimore Sun.

Dale Kelberman, a lawyer for Currie, did not return a phone call yesterday.

The federal investigation became public last May when FBI agents searched Currie's home and the corporate offices of the Lanham-based grocery chain.

According to court documents, Shoppers paid Currie more than $207,000 starting in 2003.

Others who have testified before the grand jury include Franklin D. Jackson, chairman of the Prince George's Board of License Commissioners, and William G. Somerville, a lawyer who advises the General Assembly on ethics issues.

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