Congressman Hoyer: Currie does 'not pay attention to details'
Defense attorneys for state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie continued a theme Tuesday, calling an influential member of Congress to portray their client as honest, but hopelessly disorganized.
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, testified that Currie, who's on trial in federal court in Baltimore on corruption charges, is "not particularly taken with details or organization."
"He did not pay attention to details, but he did pay attention to people," Hoyer said of Currie, who is accused, along with two former executives from Shoppers Food Warehouse, of using a public-relations consulting contract to cover up a $245,000 bribery scheme that bought legislative favors for the food chain.
"He's been a friend of mine for 30 years," Hoyer said of Currie, adding that he sold his house directly to Currie when he moved from Forestville in the late 1980s.
"He was a decent, honest person of integrity," Hoyer said. "I don't think organization is his strong point."
The defense team also called certified public accountant Thomas J. Murphy, who testified that he prepared Currie's tax returns between 2005 and 2008.
On Monday, defense attorneys called a witness who portrayed Currie, a Prince George's County legislator, as endlessly pleasant, but not very bright.
"On the smart [scale], he's right at the bottom," Timothy F. Maloney, a lawyer and former Maryland delegate, testified as the first witness for the defense. "On the nice [scale], he's right at the top."
Currie, a former teacher, has a master's degree in education, and he held one of the most powerful positions in the state legislature as chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Yet, according to Maloney, Currie is also "not very astute," his ability to remember and relay information is "just not good," and "no one would call him smart."
Peter J. Henning, a Detroit law professor who recently published a book about legal strategies used in public corruption cases, said of the trial strategy: "I've termed it the 'I'm an idiot defense."
Defense attorneys will continue calling witnesses this afternoon.