Baltimore Mayor Sheila A. Dixon was charged today by the state prosecutor in a 12-count indictment, becoming the city’s first sitting mayor indicted on criminal offenses.
Dixon was charged with four counts of perjury and two counts of theft over $500, as well as theft under $500, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and misconduct in office. The charges stem in part from gifts she received from former boyfriend and developer Ronald H. Lipscomb, who was also charged earlier this week.
Dixon, a Democrat, has been the target of a nearly three-year probe by State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh into corruption at City Hall, an investigation that has centered on allegations that Dixon has used her office to award lucrative contracts to various people including her sister, her then-boyfriend and her former campaign chairman.
In a statement released by her office this afternoon, Dixon said: “I am being unfairly accused. Time will prove that I have done nothing wrong, and I am confident that I will be found innocent of these charges. … I want to make it clear, though, that I will continue to put all of my energies into running the City of Baltimore during these perilous economic times.” Source: Baltimore Sun
I don’t quite know what to make of this yet, but it seems that many politicians in this country are engaging in highly questionable and sometimes criminal behavior. The latest politician’s house to be raided is Baltimore City Mayor Sheila Dixon’s home. Dale P. Kelberman, Dixon’s attorney, said agents of the state prosecutor’s office issued a search warrant and arrived at the mayor’s Southwest Baltimore home at 6:30 a.m. Dixon was home with her two teenage children at the time. The investigators later took “various documents,” the attorney said in a statement. “We have not yet seen the affidavit in support of the search warrant so we don’t know what was authorized or why,” Kelberman said.
The early morning raid is evidence that a widely publicized investigation into City Hall spending has expanded.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the investigation, which began after a series of articles detailed spending irregularities at City Hall, appears to be wide-ranging, including attempts to look into possible gifts to the mayor. State prosecutors have been seeking Dixon’s fur coats, for instance.
The Sun reported in 2006 that, as City Council president, Dixon voted on contracts that benefited her sister’s employer, Utech. The paper also reported that Dixon’s former campaign chairman, Dale G. Clark, was paid $500,000 over five years to perform computer work for the city without a contract. Clark and Utech founder Mildred Boyer have pleaded guilty to tax charges stemming from the inquiry and have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
At least nine subpoenas were served this week on current and former city employees – many of whom worked with Dixon when she was president of the City Council – and those individuals are expected to testify before a grand jury next week.
Anthony W. McCarthy, who refused to comment, served as Dixon’s chief of staff for nine months in 1999 and 2000 when she was president of the council. When Dixon became mayor, McCarthy was brought in to oversee communications and is largely credited with softening her image.
According to the Baltimore Sun, he abruptly left the position in November 2007 after revelations that he was being investigated by Baltimore County police. No charges were filed. McCarthy maintained his innocence, but he did not return to his former position in the mayor’s office.
Dixon has remained quiet about the investigation since the raid on her home, saying only that she is cooperating with prosecutors and that she is trying to stay focused on moving the city forward.
I am no lawyer, but if the state prosecutor is examining gifts to the mayor, he might be seeking to prove that Dixon violated ethics rules by not reporting them on financial disclosure forms, that she violated tax laws by not paying taxes on the gifts or that she committed official misconduct related to accepting a bribe in exchange for favorable treatment. I guess you could say that those would be three areas of interest if the authorities are looking for a mink coat. On the same day that investigators raided Dixon’s home, they called the owner of a fur coat company in Timonium to ask whether he was storing Dixon’s two fur coats this year, as he had in the past.
Well, I hope for her sake that her house is “clean” or she will be another mayor with a mess on her hands. Will keep you posted.