U.S. releases Currie search logs

Documents show drugs taken from senator's home

June 07, 2008|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,Sun reporter

The FBI seized financial records, business cards and personal planners from the home of state Sen. Ulysses Currie, as well as documents from Shoppers Food & Pharmacy related to projects in the state during what appears to be coordinated raids last week, according to court filings.

In evidence recovery logs released by federal prosecutors, FBI agents also noted that marijuana and drug packaging materials were taken from a room in Currie's home in District Heights.

Currie, a Prince George's County Democrat, has been an outside consultant for Shoppers, according to the grocery store chain's parent company, Supervalu Inc. News of the federal probe broke May 29 when FBI agents searched Currie's home and the Shoppers headquarters in Lanham. A Supervalu spokeswoman confirmed that authorities are working on an investigation related to one of its service providers, identified as Currie.

Neither Currie nor his lawyer Dale Kelberman returned phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, whose district also includes Prince George's County, said he spoke yesterday with Currie who said he was "embarrassed" that marijuana was found in his home. Currie lives with his wife, a preacher, and his teenage son. "He definitely told me it wasn't his, and he was shocked to learn about it," Miller said.

FBI spokesman Richard Wolf said yesterday that the investigation is continuing. As for the seizure of drugs, Wolf said: "I don't believe at this time that charges have been filed."

The evidence logs provide the first insight into what investigators are seeking. Another grand jury subpoena was served on the Department of Legislative Services, seeking records in General Assembly offices.

Some items seized from Currie's home include Merrill Lynch and bank statements, phone bills, a consulting agreement with Shoppers dated from December 2007 and tax information from the past six years.

Among the business cards listed on the evidence log were two from Giant Food Inc. Barry Scher, a lobbyist for the grocery chain in Annapolis, said that he has known Currie for years and that one of the cards could have been his. Scher said that he has been interviewed by the FBI but added: "I am not a target of the investigation, I can assure you of that."

Currie did not list any consulting work on financial disclosure forms that he's required to file with the State Ethics Commission, and Supervalu has declined to say how long he has worked with the company, the nature of his work or what he was paid. Robert A. Hahn, executive director of the agency, said that he couldn't comment on whether the commission is currently reviewing the matter.

The senator has been twice fined and reprimanded for failing to file timely annual disclosure statements, in some cases after repeated reminder notices. In both instances, the ethics commission fined Currie $350. Reprimands were sent to the Senate president, joint committee on legislative ethics and to the governor.

Currie got involved in state business concerning Shoppers on several occasions.

He apparently asked state highway officials in 2005 to expedite a traffic-light project near a shopping center where the grocery chain planned to open a store, according to an e-mail from State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. Also that year, the county delegation that included Currie sponsored a bill that facilitated the transfer of a liquor license from one Shoppers store to another. And in 2006, Currie attended meetings during which Washington Metro officials, Prince George's County officials and Shoppers representatives discussed the possible commercial development of an area near the West Hyattsville Metro station.

Some of the records taken from the Shoppers headquarters include correspondence regarding a liquor license in College Park, and with the SHA regarding "intersection improvement" for a store in Owings Mills.

Several documents also related to Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore, where a Shoppers Food store opened in November. The state has pledged $1.8 million to the mall, which would go to the mall's owner, General Growth Properties, for renovation of the property. The city also kicked in $15 million in tax increment financing for an expansion of the mall. M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., said Shoppers has not received any direct financial incentives from the city.

Another description of evidence taken from Shoppers headquarters refers to phone messages with "O'Malley's office." Shaun Adamec, a spokesman, said Gov. Martin O'Malley's office has not been contacted in relation to the FBI investigation.



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