The Washington Post

Prosecutors raise questions about second Currie consulting relationship

Update, 2:20 p.m.: Testimony in the Currie case has concluded. Closing arguments will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the judge says.

Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George's County, listens during the opening day of the legislative session Jan. 14, 2009 in Annapolis, Md. (Gail Burton/AP)

After the defense rested Monday morning, prosecutors put two rebuttal witnesses on the stand who previously worked for APG, Inc., a small Maryland company that advised businesses on tax-credit opportunities.

Both witnesses said they did not know what Currie did in exchange for a series of payments he received in 2001 that was reported on his federal tax returns as consulting income. The former head of APG, who apparently approved the payments, is now deceased.

Currie is on trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore for allegedly engaging in a bribery scheme with two grocery chain executives to do government favors for Shoppers Food Warehouse. Currie, the former chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, did not disclose his relationship with Shoppers on state ethics forms for more than five years.

Last week, Currie’s lawyers brought up APG, pointing out to the jury that Currie did not disclose on his ethics forms his consulting work with that company either. The forms were generally sloppy and contained several other omissions, his lawyers have suggested.

Before the jury was brought in Monday, Currie’s lawyers unsuccessfully sought to bar the introduction of additional testimony related to APG, arguing that prosecutors had no actual evidence of wrongdoing.

Both before and after 2001, Currie sponsored or co-sponsored several bills related to a Maryland tax credit that was available to companies that hired workers off the welfare rolls. The tax credit, which the legislature created in 1995, was widely supported by advocates for the poor and the business community, including APG.

During arguments outside the jury’s presence, a prosecutor argued that Currie had helped both Shoppers and APG with legislation during stretches when he was receiving payments from the companies.

Currie’s payments from Shoppers began in 2003 and ended in 2008, after the FBI raided his home and its investigation into Currie’s activities became public.

Prosecutors have argued that Currie used his position in the Senate to advocate for stop light requests, development deals and other projects that stood to benefit Shoppers. Currie’s lawyers have acknowledged an “undisclosed conflict of interest” but contend he did not commit any crimes.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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