Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s lawyer offers defense, saying she qualified for relief under CARES Act

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Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS
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A lawyer for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby provided a defense Monday to charges that she lied when she claimed to have suffered financial hardship from the coronavirus pandemic to obtain an early withdrawal from her retirement savings to purchase two Florida homes.

“I’m telling you she’s not only innocent, but we have professionals who she consulted with. She qualified under the statute,” Mosby’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, said at a news conference Monday.

Mosby, 41, is charged with falsely claiming she suffered financial hardship during the pandemic to obtain an early withdrawal from her retirement savings without facing any penalties.

The CARES Act allowed individuals to make early withdrawals without penalties if they experienced financial hardships during the pandemic as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, or laid off; having fewer work hours; being unable to work due to lack of child care; or the closing or reduction of hours of a business she owned or operated. Mosby did not face any of those circumstances, the indictment alleges, and said she received her full gross state’s attorney salary of $247,955.

Bolden indicated that Mosby’s fledgling private businesses allowed her to receive such relief.

Mosby previously incorporated three businesses, Mahogany Elite Travel, Mahogany Elite Enterprises LLC and Mahogany Elite Consulting, according to her financial disclosures in 2020. The companies were created to “help underserved Black families who don’t usually have the opportunity to travel outside of urban cities so they can vacation at various destinations throughout the world at affordable rates,” Mosby said previously.

A spokeswoman for Mosby indicated in 2020 that the businesses were not yet active, and were considered “a long-term venture. There are no plans to operate the company while she is state’s attorney.”

Asked whether her businesses were operational, Bolden said Monday: “These were businesses that were starting. As a result, that does not disqualify her from, along with some other facts that we have to present, that certainly absolve her of any wrongdoing.”

Federal prosecutors also allege that Mosby purchased two properties in Florida, and lied on the mortgage loan applications by failing to disclose a federal tax lien against her and her husband City Council President Nick Mosby, who has not been charged.

Bolden said Monday that Marilyn Mosby was unaware of the lien at the time of the applications.

“My client did not know about the tax lien until later,” he said.

Prosecutors also allege that Mosby did not disclose that she planned to rent one property in Kissimmee, near Disney World, which allowed her to obtain a lower interest rate on the mortgage for the property. The indictment said Mosby entered into an agreement with a property management company giving it control over the rental of the property.

Monday’s news conference is the latest event by Mosby supporters to express their support for the city’s top prosecutor. In addition to Mosby’s attorney, Willie Flowers, president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference, Nicole Hanson-Mundell, head of the nonprofit Out For Justice, which aims to help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter society, Daphne Alston, who heads the anti-violence group Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters, and defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, spoke in Mosby’s defense Monday. They indicated that the prosecution was unfair, and that Mosby was targeted because she is Black and espouses progressive policies.

Mosby and her husband were at Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple AME church Sunday when she spoke out against the charges. Two days earlier, she held a news conference addressing the charges.

“I wanted the people of Baltimore to hear it from me: I’ve done nothing wrong. I did not defraud anyone to take money from my retirement savings. I did not lie on my mortgage application,” she said Friday.

Bolden said Monday that they are pushing to go trial and hope to do so as soon as possible. He said the trial will shed light on the unfair prosecution, which he said is politically and racially motivated. Bolden said Mosby is being unfairly prosecuted because she is viewed as a progressive prosecutor after she brought charges against six police officers in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray, a Black man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody, as well as her office’s policy not to prosecute certain low-level, nonviolent offenses. None of the officers were convicted.

Mosby faces five years in federal prison for each of two counts of perjury and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison for each of two counts of making false mortgage applications.

Although Mosby has made no indication that she plans to step down, it remains unclear whether the charges will prevent her from continuing to hold office. Mosby is expected to run for reelection in the Democratic primary this year. The Maryland Constitution holds two provisions to remove elected officials who are convicted.

The bar counsel of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission also has the authority to petition a circuit court for an injunction of an attorney’s license to practice law if the attorney is found to be engaging in professional misconduct and poses an immediate threat to cause “substantial harm to the administration of justice.”

“In the end, she is innocent until proven guilty. The criminal justice system and the prosecutions that have wrongly brought this case against her, they will be on trial as well,” Bolden said.