Perjury case against former top Baltimore prosecutor heads to a federal jury
GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A former top prosecutor for the city of Baltimore took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and lied to improperly access retirement funds, using the money to purchase two Florida vacation homes, a federal prosecutor argued Wednesday at the close of the ex-official’s trial.
Marilyn Mosby, who served two terms as state’s attorney for Baltimore, declined to testify before her attorneys rested their case on the third day of her trial on perjury charges. The judge presiding over the trial said she expects jurors to begin deliberating on Thursday.
Mosby’s 2022 indictment accuses her of improperly accessing funds from a retirement savings account by falsely claiming that the pandemic harmed a travel-oriented business that she had formed. She used the withdrawals as down payments to buy a home in Kissimmee, Florida, and a condominium in Long Boat Key, Florida.
“Telling the truth matters. It matters for all of us,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky told jurors during the trial’s closing arguments. “We should be able to rely on the truth of what someone says under oath.”
One of her attorneys said Mosby told the truth when she certified on a form that the pandemic harmed the business that she formed in 2019. Mosby was entitled to withdraw $90,000 from a city retirement fund and was free to spend it on whatever she wanted, federal public defender James Wyda told jurors.
“She lost money and future profits because COVID devastated her business,” Wyda said.
Mosby gained a national profile for prosecuting Baltimore police officers after Freddie Gray, a Black man, died in police custody in 2015, which was Mosby’s first year in office. His death led to riots and protests in the city. None of the officers were convicted.
A grand jury indicted Mosby on two counts of perjury before a Democratic primary challenger defeated her last year.
Prosecutors argued that Mosby wasn’t entitled to access the retirement funds under provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. They said her business, Mahogany Elite Enterprises, had no clients or revenue and didn’t sustain any “adverse financial consequences” from the pandemic.
Mosby made separate withdrawals of $40,000 and $50,000 from the city retirement plan. Prosecutors say the money in the account is held in trust and belongs to the city until a plan participant is eligible to make a withdrawal.
Zelinsky said it’s telling that Mosby didn’t spend any of the $90,000 to cover virus-related losses. She spent “100% of the money” on homes that she otherwise couldn’t afford to buy, he told jurors.
Wyda said Mosby spent time and money to start a business designed to help “women of color” in business to travel to retreats.
“You know the world stopped when the pandemic hit” in 2020, Wyda told jurors. “What company or business associated with the pandemic didn’t stop when the global pandemic hit?”
Wyda also rejected prosecutors’ suggestion that Mosby was motivated by greed when she used the money to buy the vacation homes.
“That is only evidence of a mother trying to do the best she can for her family,” he added.
A. Scott Bolden, a lawyer who initially represented Mosby but later withdrew from the case, has described the charges as “bogus” and claimed the case is “rooted in personal, political and racial animus.”
During her tenure as state’s attorney, Mosby gained national recognition for her progressive policies and became a lightning rod for criticism from those who thought she went too far. Among other high-profile decisions, Mosby stopped prosecuting certain low-level crimes, a practice her successor has reversed.
U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby agreed to move Mosby’s trial from Baltimore to Greenbelt, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Mosby’s attorneys argued that she couldn’t get a fair trial in Baltimore after years of negative media coverage. Prosecutors opposed the venue change, saying Mosby had sought and encouraged coverage of the case.
Associated Press writer Lea Skene in Baltimore contributed to this report.
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