At the time federal agents raided his home in 2008, Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie was being treated for an aggressive case of prostate cancer with a drug that sometimes made him feel “fuzzy,” his attorney said Friday.
Currie (D-Prince George’s), who is scheduled to go on trial Monday, is facing multiple charges stemming from a six-year consulting arrangement that he had with a grocery chain and that he failed to disclose on state ethics forms. In addition to bribery and extortion counts, federal prosecutors allege that Currie made false statements to the agents during an early morning raid of his home.
Currie’s medical condition was disclosed in court Friday by the legislator’s attorney, Joseph L. Evans, who said he plans to call Currie’s urologist as a witness. Evans said the urologist, Michael J. Naslund, could testify about Currie’s treatment and the cognitive side effects of the drug, Lupron.
Evans said that Currie, 74, was “a very sick patient” at the time and that the urologist’s testimony is needed “so the jury can understand the entire situation that’s going on in Senator Currie’s” head when he was interviewed by agents from the FBI.
Evans also disclosed in court that a “mass” had been detected on Currie’s brain during the same period as his cancer treatment.
Currie declined to comment Friday as he left U.S. District Court in Baltimore, where jury selection in his trial is scheduled to begin Monday. Evans told reporters that Currie’s cancer is in remission but declined to comment further on the lawmaker’s medical condition.
Prosecutors said that they do not object to testimony by Naslund about treating Currie but that he should not be able to testify as an expert on Lupron’s neurological effects without their having an opportunity to first explore Naslund’s credentials and to call other witnesses on the subject.
Judge Richard D. Bennett said he would hold a hearing on the scope of Naslund’s testimony before the defense presents its case.
The judge said he expects the trial to last five to six weeks.
Prosecutors contend that under the guise of a consulting arrangement, Currie conspired with two executives for Shoppers Food & Pharmacy to use his position to illegally benefit the grocery chain.
According to prosecutors, Currie’s activities included voting on legislation that benefited Shoppers, convening meetings with high-ranking state officials for the company and seeking state funding for certain development projects to benefit the chain. Over the six years, Currie received more than $245,000 in payments.
On Friday and in previous court hearings, Evans has acknowledged Currie had an “undisclosed conflict of interest” but has asserted that Currie’s activities did not constitute bribery or extortion.
Evans also indicated Friday that Currie plans to call many character witnesses during the trial.
Much of Friday’s hearing centered on motions by prosecutors to limit testimony that Currie and the two former Shoppers executives, William White and R. Kevin Small, will be allowed to present as part of their defense.
In most instances, Bennett declined to grant the motions, one of which he characterized as “incredibly unfair.”
“This is going to be a fair trial for these defendants,” he said.