Currie’s campaign treasurer accused of theft
The treasurer, Olivia Harris, had managed Currie’s campaign account since the Prince George’s County Democrat was elected to the Senate in 1995. Her attorney, Gerard Martin, said it is a “sad day” that “this wonderful woman has to face this at this point in her career.” He declined to comment on how she will plead.
Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh said he found “no indication” that Currie, who was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in a separate bribery case, was aware or played any part in the theft scheme. The senator replaced Harris last month, days after state prosecutors raided her Upper Marlboro.
Proseuctors say Harris, 64, stole the money over three years and filed fake campaign finance reports overstating the amount of money in the account to hide the theft.
“The money in those campaign accounts is to be used for the campaign,” said Rohrbaugh in a statement. “It is not some slush fund for the personal use of those entrusted with the money — including campaign treasurers or the candidates themselves.”
Currie filed his August campaign finance disclosure report about a week late and the report showed $187,000 was drained from the account with no explanation for how the money had been spent. At the time his attorney Gregg Bernstein, who is running for Baltimore City State’s Attorney, wrote in a letter to the Board of Elections that the missing money appeared to be “the result of the treasurer’s conduct.”
It is unclear how, or if, that investigation will proceed. Harris would have had to testify against Currie if charges were brought.
Currie faces no opponents in the primary or the general election but the theft of campaign funds adds to a series of problems facing the veteran Senator. He was recently indicted in a separate federal bribary case, causing him to relinquish his chairmanship of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee.
Two former grocery store executives were also accused in the bribary scheme, with federal prosecutors alleging that the Senator sold his influence to the chain for $245,000 over six years. The chain, Shoppers Food Warehouse, is headquartered in his Prince George’s County district and his attorney Dale Kelberman has argued that Currie was properly employed as a consultant to the firm.
Former Shopper’s Vice President for Real Estate, Kevin Small not guilty to all charges in a federal court Friday, said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office. He was released under the supervision of pre-trial services. Currie is expected to plead not guilty on Sept. 17.
Shoppers was also implicated in the scheme, but has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fee to avoid prosecution. Represenatives for the firm are set to appear before a federal judge on Monday.