Four takeaways from the new indictment against Marilyn Mosby

Published on: March 11, 2022 8:00 AM EST|Updated on: June 13, 2022 8:42 AM EDT

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Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby allegedly told lies on top of lies to engineer the purchase of two vacation homes in Florida together worth more than $1 million.

While a superseding indictment against her Thursday lists no new charges, prosecutors leveled additional accusations of deceit against the two-term elected top prosecutor, writing that she misled a mortgage company and arranged a phantom $5,000 gift from her husband.

Mosby and her attorney, A. Scott Bolden, have sought to discredit the case and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore, accusing federal prosecutors of trumping up trivial charges to force her from office. They say she’s a target because of her race, sex and politics.

Bolden said the new indictment just proves his point and federal prosecutors are “scraping the bottom of the barrel” to discredit Mosby before the election.

Here are four takeaways from the new indictment:

1. As with the first charges, these allegations are less about money than honesty.

She was already accused of claiming a fraudulent pandemic hardship to lessen the tax penalty on early withdrawals from her retirement account, then using that money to purchase homes in Kissimmee and Longboat Key, and making false statements on the paperwork. They say she failed to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien, and stated she would use a Florida property as a second home when she was already setting it up as a rental.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged more falsehoods with the new indictment, including a letter Mosby drafted and submitted stating that she had been riding out the pandemic in Florida for more than two months.

“...Because of my ability to work remotely, my family and I have spent the past 70 days there,” she said, according to a letter included in the new charging document. Prosecutors say that wasn’t true.

Federal prosecutors also say that she falsely claimed to have received a $5,000 gift from her husband, Council President Nick Mosby.

The allegations don’t add any more penalties to the case. But the new details could combat the argument that Mosby made innocent mistakes or wasn’t responsible, and instead shows more active involvement.

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2. The allegation that Nick Mosby wired money to inflate her assets adds to questions about his personal finances.

In her motion to dismiss, Marilyn Mosby’s attorneys attached lengthy correspondence from when they were trying to fend off criminal tax charges. In those letters, they argued that any irregularities on her taxes were her husband’s fault and that he hid problems with the IRS from her, as well as her accountant. She consulted the accountant to have their taxes filed separately in 2019 after she contemplated leaving him.

The new indictment says Marilyn Mosby needed $35,700 in liquid assets in order to close on the Longboat Key home in late 2020 and was about $4,700 short. To get her over the edge and lock in a lower interest rate, she submitted a “gift letter” saying that Nick had given her $5,000.

But prosecutors say Nick didn’t even have $5,000 in his checking account at the time, and Marilyn Mosby wired the money to his checking account. He then passed it through his savings account and back to the escrow agent – creating the appearance that she had reached the necessary amount when it was her own money used to make the transaction possible.

Bolden, Mosby’s attorney, shot back at prosecutors for questioning the money transferred between husband and wife.

“It is shameful conduct and DOJ should be reining in this vindictive prosecutor, prior to any indictment, and now, while we are awaiting trial,” he wrote Thursday in an email to the Baltimore Banner.

Neither of the Mosbys ultimately faced any tax charges, and Nick Mosby hasn’t been charged with a crime. But the case has revealed embarrassing details about his personal life and financial woes that have the potential to harm him politically or undermine his authority as the leader of the council.

3. How will the case affect Marilyn’s re-election prospects?

Marilyn Mosby hasn’t yet filed to run for re-election, and took down her campaign website along with her social media accounts last month without explanation. But observers have expected her to run for a third term.

A criminal conviction would set off a host of scenarios affecting her candidacy. Or she could choose to drop out altogether.

If she remains in the race, it’s unclear how the allegations will affect her re-election chances. She has claimed she is the victim of a political witch hunt, both for racial and political reasons, as a Black woman who bills herself as a progressive reform prosecutor and for charging police in the death of Freddie Gray.

She’s had supporters such as the local NAACP and prominent attorney Ben Crump rally to her defense. Others point to prosecutions of former Mayor Catherine Pugh and others as evidence that Black elected leaders are unfairly targeted.

Will the new allegations come across as the feds piling on? Or will they lead her defenders to second guess their support of her?

4. More charges could alter the election landscape.

With Mosby’s future in office uncertain, a former political challenger is giving new thought to stepping into the race for state’s attorney. Thiru Vignarajah, a former federal, state and city prosecutor, said he’s weighing whether he will run in the June Democratic primary.

“I’ve been encouraged to consider it, and I’m not ruling anything out,” he told The Baltimore Banner. “These are unprecedented times between a state’s attorney who may be constitutionally ineligible and the worst violent crime surge in Baltimore history.”

His calculation hedges less on whether Mosby will run than if she could be convicted, and sets up a potential rematch with Ivan Bates.

Bates and Vignarajah both ran against Mosby four years ago. Mosby garnered 49.4% of the vote, with Bates receiving 28.1% of the vote and Vignarajah getting 22.5%.

Bates is running again. He’s betting that he laid the groundwork for a successful second run, and he had $226,000 cash on hand as of the last reporting deadline. Another challenger who filed to run in the primary, Roya Hanna, announced this week that she was bowing out of the Democratic primary race but would mount a long-shot challenge as an independent candidate.

If Vignarajah enters and Mosby remains, it could repeat the scenario from 2018 when he and Bates split the opposition vote. A head-to-head matchup with Bates offers hope for Vignarajah, who after his state’s attorney bid ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2020. He has kept a public profile with regular appearances on FOX45 and WBAL radio.