Currie jury asks judge about timing
Posted: 6:32 pm Mon, November 7, 2011
A federal judge on Monday told the jury weighing a bribery and conspiracy case against Sen. Ulysses Currie that the alleged conspiracy between him and two former grocery store executives did not have to occur in the first months of an alleged six-year timeframe.
The note came on the second full day of deliberations in the case against Currie, D-Prince George’s, and former Shoppers Food Warehouse executives William J. White and R. Kevin Small. Federal prosecutors allege that Currie took more than $245,000 to do political favors for the grocery store chain between December 2002 and May 2008.
The jury’s note asked whether they can find the men guilty if the conspiracy was not in effect in December 2002 but “might have started at a later date.” The words “might have” were inserted with a proofreading caret. The note also includes an asterisk after the word “date,” which is explained at the bottom of the note as “possibly as much as two years later.”
“The answer to their question is: ‘Yes, they can,’” U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett said after consulting with prosecutors and defense lawyers.
The jury sent a second note later in the afternoon asking for an index of exhibits used in the case with a brief description of each exhibit.
Joseph Evans, a lawyer for Currie, argued that a conspiracy that occurred two years after the alleged start date could be “some other conspiracy” than what was discussed during the trial. But Bennett said he had a hard time understanding Evans’ argument.
“It’s just a matter of when,” Bennett said.
Currie, 74, is charged with conspiracy, bribery, extortion and making false statements.
Prosecutors have emphasized that the former chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee failed to reveal his working relationship in state financial disclosure forms in order to conceal the true nature of his work.
Lawyers for the senator say he was only working as a consultant, and they have attributed the omissions to sloppy bookkeeping that has been typical of the senator throughout his 25-year political career in Annapolis.
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