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Currie slated to stand trial in September

State Sen. Ulysses S. Currie will have the summer to prepare for trial in his bribery case after all.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett denied a postponement request from the powerful legislator’s lawyers last fall, but recent developments in another high-profile criminal case on the Baltimore judge’s docket forced his hand this week.

After speaking with attorneys in the Currie matter and those in the espionage case against a former senior National Security Agency official Monday, Judge Bennett pushed Currie’s trial from June to September and replaced it with the trial of Thomas A. Drake, who allegedly leaked classified documents to a former Baltimore Sun reporter. Drake’s trial had been scheduled for late next month.

Maryland Federal Public Defender James Wyda, who is representing Drake and whose assistants are representing Currie, said Bennett was not prioritizing national security over prosecution of state government corruption.

“I think it was more to try to get both of them done as soon as possible,” Wyda said, explaining that lawyers in the Drake case had scheduling conflicts in September.

Last September, Currie’s public defenders cited the Prince George’s County lawmaker’s busy schedule during the January-to-April legislative session as grounds for more time, but Bennett noted the public interest in the corruption case and said a trial date nine months following Currie’s September 1 indictment provided “more than sufficient opportunity” for them to prepare their defense.

Currie was under investigation for years before being charged with improperly using his influence in exchange for thousands of dollars in consulting payments from former Shoppers Food Warehouse & Pharmacy executives.

However, the protocols that come with classified material and novel legal issues, such as the prosecution’s motion for use of the “silent witness rule,” have slowed the progress of the Drake case, putting it on a collision course with the case against Currie, William J. White and R. Kevin Small.

Drake, a Glenwood resident, is charged with illegal retention of classified information and falsely stating that he never gave documents to “Reporter A,” since identified as now-Wall Street Journal reporter Siobhan Gorman, who wrote stories exposing waste and inefficiencies at the Fort Meade-based intelligence agency.

Trial in the case against Drake is scheduled to start on June 13 and run three weeks. Currie and his co-defendants are slated to stand trial for eight weeks beginning September 12.