SEPTEMBER 02, 2010
In the politician’s version of America’s Dumbest Criminals, a prominent Maryland state lawmaker actually kept a detailed list of the illegal favors he did for executives of a grocery chain that paid him nearly a quarter of a million dollars in bribes.
As chair of the state’s powerful senate taxation committee, Democrat Ulysses Currie sold his influence to the supermarket chain (Shoppers Food Warehouse) that he helped land government business and other favors that financially benefitted the company. Federal prosecutors say the grocery chain put Currie on its payroll for about six years, making monthly payments of up to $7,600 to the corrupt legislator.
In an 18-count grand jury indictment, the feds claim that after Currie became chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee in 2002, he asked to be put on the supermarket chain’s payroll to conceal the bribes. He later said his part-time grocery job was as a consultant of “minority recruitment and outreach, community relations and public affairs.” Instead the 73-year-old politician repeatedly used his power and leverage to benefit the firm and its top executives, prosecutors say.
In fact, Currie created a list, “Accomplishments on Behalf of Shoppers,” documenting his unscrupulous deeds for the grocer and justifying his bribes. Among them: Currie helped Shoppers secure a $2 million government handout for a Baltimore location and a $3 million grant for supermarket road improvements, used official letterhead to repeatedly lobby state highway officials for traffic signals at stores in two counties and coerced a county liquor board to allow the transfer of a liquor license.
Currie also persuaded government officials to give up the right to buy precious land—owned by the Washington Transit Authority—so that the property could be used to expand an existing Shoppers facility. Several executives from the grocery chain have also been indicted and the company has agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty. Curie faces decades in prison.
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