Md. Sen. Ulysses Currie's ex-campaign aide admits to theft

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 11, 2011; 6:59 PM

The former campaign treasurer for Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie has entered a guilty plea to stealing $157,350 from the campaign account of the once-powerful Prince George's Democrat, the state prosecutor's office said Friday.

According to prosecutors, Olivia Harris made more than 350 withdrawals from two automatic teller machines located about a mile from her home in Upper Marlboro. The thefts of the campaign money for her personal use took place between January 2007 and April, prosecutors said.

The scheme appears unrelated to Currie's own legal troubles. He was indicted in September on federal charges that he took more than $245,000 in bribes to use his position and influence to do favors for a grocery chain over six years.

Currie faces charges including bribery, conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud and false statements. He has said he is not guilty of those charges and is scheduled to stand trial in June in U.S. District Court.

His attorneys have argued that he did legitimate consulting work for Shoppers Food and Pharmacy.

Currie won reelection in November and is still serving in the General Assembly, although he has given up the chairmanship of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

In a statement, State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said there is no indication that Currie was aware of Harris's account withdrawals.

Davitt said that Harris's scheme went undetected for years because she did all the banking for Currie's campaign committee and was responsible for filing its disclosure reports with the State Board of Elections.

Harris did not report the withdrawals for her personal use, instead greatly overstating the amount of campaign funds Currie had in the bank, according to prosecutors.

Gerard P. Martin, an attorney for Harris, declined to comment Friday.

The maximum penalty for the charge to which Harris has entered a guilty plea is 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Her plea was entered in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, where a judge deferred sentencing until March 30.

Harris also failed to disclose the withdrawals on her income-tax filings and has an unpaid tax liability to the state of more than $9,000, prosecutors said. Staff writer Maria Glod contributed to this report.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company