- The Washington Times - Monday, July 25, 2011

A U.S. District Court judge delayed a ruling Monday on whether to drop bribery charges against state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie after defense attorneys requested a dismissal.

Mr. Currie, Prince George’s Democrat, was indicted last year on charges that he accepted $245,000 in bribes from a grocery chain from 2003 to 2008 in exchange for political influence.

He has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges including conspiracy, extortion and six counts of bribery. His trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

Prosecutors say that Mr. Currie worked for six years as a paid consultant for Lanham-based Shoppers Food Warehouse and Pharmacy, and that he used his clout to introduce and support legislation that helped the grocery chain, among other things, obtain beer and wine licenses and receive state assistance toward rent payments at one of its Baltimore stores.

Mr. Currie initially faced 18 charges, but prosecutors dropped eight of them in May on grounds that they duplicated the remaining charges and were based on a questionable legal theory.

Defense attorneys requested soon thereafter that all charges be dropped. They have contended that Mr. Currie did not accept bribes but was working as a legitimate consultant and reported his earnings on state and federal income tax returns.

Judge Richard D. Bennett, in a U.S. District Court in Baltimore, was expected to rule on the motion Monday but did not. A prosecution spokesman said officials are unsure when the judge will render a decision.

Judge Bennett did rule on several other motions, including denying a defense request that Mr. Currie’s trial be separated from those of co-defendants and former Shoppers executives William J. White and R. Kevin Small.

The judge also denied a defense request for documents relating to a federal wiretap of former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson that recorded conversations between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Currie.

Mr. Currie, 74, is a fifth-term senator who from 2002 to 2010 was chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He resigned as chairman shortly after his indictment but remains on the committee.

Mr. Currie’s attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.