Toward the end of 2015, Marilyn Mosby was in her first term as Baltimore state’s attorney when she said she started going through the mail and saw a letter addressed to her and her husband at the time from the Internal Revenue Service.
Mosby said she opened the letter and learned that they owed $45,000 to $46,000 in federal taxes. She said she “went off.”
Her husband, Nick Mosby, she said, was apologetic. He explained that he withdrew money from his 401(k) retirement savings account to pay for her campaign commercial, but had since entered into a payment plan with the IRS.
“It was his tax liability,” Marilyn Mosby said. “He assured me that it was being paid.”
For more than 2 1/2 hours, Marilyn Mosby testified in her own defense on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, providing explanation after explanation to what federal prosecutors allege were lies on mortgage application related to her purchase of two luxury vacation homes in Florida. She said she had trusted her now ex-husband, her real estate agent, and her mortgage broker.
In 2023, Marilyn Mosby, 44, a Democrat, was found guilty of two counts of perjury after a jury concluded that she lied to withdraw $90,000 from a retirement account under a provision in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. She used that money to buy the home and condo.
Before the end of his questioning, Federal Public Defender James Wyda, one of Marilyn Mosby’s attorneys, asked if she had been convicted of perjury. She acknowledged that she had, but said an appeal was planned.
“I regret not testifying before,” Marilyn Mosby said, “and I want this jury to hear my truth.”
Later, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky started his cross-examination of Marilyn Mosby, which will continue on Thursday. She’s charged with two counts of making a false statement on a loan application.
While serving as state’s attorney from 2015-2023, Marilyn Mosby testified, she oversaw “pretty much the largest law firm in the city of Baltimore.” The job, she said, was not 9-to-5. She said she was on call 24/7.
She said becoming an elected official created a great deal of tension in her marriage. They weren’t operating as a team anymore, she testified, and she wanted to forge her own form of leadership. Plus, she was not home a lot.
Meanwhile, Marilyn Mosby had decided to charge six Baltimore Police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who died from injuries he sustained in police custody, thrusting her office into the international spotlight. None of the cases resulted in convictions.
Nick Mosby later quit his job and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Baltimore. He was elected president of the Baltimore City Council in 2020.
Marilyn Mosby testified that, in 2016, her husband reported that he was having difficulty paying the mortgage. She said she was angry but appreciated him being transparent. She paid the amount that was past due and took over the monthly payments.
They talked about divorcing on several occasions, Marilyn Mosby testified, and she circulated a separation agreement in 2019.
When she decided to separately file her 2019 taxes, Marilyn Mosby testified, her tax adviser, Sharif Small, informed her that she’d receive a refund of almost $550. She said she later received a letter stating that the money went toward her husband’s student loans, which were in default.
Though the couple had been like two ships passing in the night, that changed in 2020 with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marilyn Mosby testified. But she said their relationship did not get any better.
She said she tried to establish her financial independence and looked at potential investment properties in Baltimore. She put in a few offers, she said, but the deals didn’t work out.
A real estate agent, Monique Holston-Greene, whom she considered a family member, recommended a mortgage broker: Gilbert Bennett.
“Why did you rely on others?” Wyda asked.
“Because I was a prosecutor. A criminal lawyer. Not a real estate attorney,” Marilyn Mosby responded. “I had never gone through the home-buying process before. I wanted to rely on experts.”
On Zillow, she said, she found a home in Kissimmee, Florida, that was fully furnished and close to Walt Disney World. She said she wanted to rent out the house when she wasn’t spending time there with her family so it would “pretty much pay for itself.”
Bennett, she testified, told her that she’d qualify for a second home mortgage if she spent at least one night at the house. He filled out and sent the forms, which she said she signed.
At the time, Marilyn Mosby testified, she knew that she and her husband owed taxes, but did not think that was the question on the mortgage application. She said she also believed that Nick Mosby was current on the payment plan.
She entered into an agreement with Executive Villas Florida, a property management and vacation rental company. “It was absolutely my understanding that they worked for me,” she testified, “because they did.”
At the closing for the house, Mosby said, she signed a “whole pile of documents.” She said she did not remember signing a paper certifying that she would maintain exclusive control over the property for at least one year.
“I did not read every single document that I signed on that day,” she said, “no.”
Mosby testified that a reporter contacted her after she had closed on the house regarding a more than $45,000 tax lien. Her husband claimed that there was none, but admitted that he had fallen out of the payment plan.
She said she then overheard him on the phone with Joseph Haskins Jr., one of the founders and former CEO of Harbor Bank, about getting a loan to take care of the tax debt.
Later, Marilyn Mosby said her real estate agent brought up an investment opportunity: a condominium across from the beach in Longboat Key, Florida.
She said she was initially hesitant, but came around to the idea.
“It was my place of solitude,” she said. “It was my escape.”
Bennett suggested writing a letter to the mortgage company explaining her reason for buying another property so close in time, Marilyn Mosby testified. The lender, she said, did not ask for that document.
In the letter dated Dec. 10, 2020, Marilyn Mosby discussed how she recently purchased a second house and wrote that “my family and I have spent the past 70 days there.”
FBI forensic accountant Jenna Bender previously testified that Marilyn Mosby had only spent 37 of the last 70 days at the home. But Marilyn Mosby said that was her estimate of the total number of days that she had spent at the house in the fall.
She testified that she placed a $5,000 deposit on the condo from an account that she shared with one of her daughters. The mortgage company, though, did not accept the money.
That’s when Bennett introduced the concept of a gift letter, she said, and suggested getting the money from her husband.
Nick Mosby told her that he believed he’d have the money at closing. But Marilyn Mosby said she was concerned and did not want to chance it. She transferred $5,000 to him.
“I absolutely did not think I was doing anything wrong in wiring him $5,000 when he said he was going to have it — just in case he didn’t,” Marilyn Mosby testified.
She said she did not learn until 2021 that her husband had lied to her again about taking care of the tax debt.
In 2023, Marilyn Mosby said she moved out of their home in Reservoir Hill when she was no longer the city’s top prosecutor and later filed for divorce.
“There was a great deal of contention in our relationship,” she testified. “It had become extremely toxic.”
“And my inspiration was that what we once were, we were no longer,” she added. “I didn’t want my little girls to believe that’s what love was.”