Jurors in the theft trial of Sheila Dixon convicted the Baltimore mayor Tuesday on a single charge of taking gift cards intended for the city's poor.
Although Dixon was acquitted of a felony theft charge, her misdemeanor conviction could force her from office.
Best Buy, clothes at Old Navy and other items at Target.
The jury convicted her on one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and acquitted her on two counts of felony theft and one count of misconduct in office. Jurors failed to reach a verdict on another count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary. The conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but prosecutors have not decided whether they will seek jail time.
"The city will still continue to move forward," Dixon said outside the courthouse after the verdict. "This city will continue to run. ... We won't miss a step."
Some of her supporters applauded as she left the courthouse.
Her office released a statement from the mayor later in the day that said: "Today, I thank God for the strength He has given me. I want to thank my family for their undying support, and all of my staff, supporters, and friends for the countless prayers and encouraging words. Thank you for standing by me. The jury's verdict today does not impact my responsibility to continue serving and I remain focused on keeping Baltimore on course in these trying economic times.
"I want the people of this great city to know that my administration is fortunate to have a talented and dedicated team of professionals running city agencies and departments. Like me, my team remains focused on the everyday business of this city. I am blessed with opportunity to serve the people of Baltimore."
Earlier Tuesday, jurors sent a note to Judge Dennis M. Sweeney asking whether the panel needed to reach a unanimous decision on all five counts against the mayor. The note, written by juror No. 11 and signed by the forewoman, had the word "all" underlined.
Sweeney brought the jurors into the courtroom and explained to them that they could return a partial verdict. He did not take questions from the jurors in the courtroom, but said that they could send another note with any additional questions.
Several jurors nodded as Sweeney explained that the court can accept a partial verdict.
Because prosecutors used different legal theories in charging Dixon, she could have been convicted of a maximum of three counts. Dixon faced conviction on the following counts:
• Count One
The jury found Dixon not guilty of the most serious crime, felony theft. The jury decided that Dixon did not knowingly steal about $630 in Target and Best Buy gift cards purchased in December 2005 by developer Patrick Turner, who testified they were intended for "the children of Baltimore." Dixon was City Council president at the time.
• Count Four
The jury convicted Dixon of embezzlement, a misdemeanor, for violating her fiduciary duties to the city and citizens of Baltimore by using the Target and Best Buy gift cards purchased in December 2005 by Turner and worth about $630.
• Count Three
Dixon was not convicted of theft for taking six Toys "R" Us gift cards purchased with taxpayer money in 2007 for a city housing department charity event called the Holly Trolley tour. Dixon gave one of the cards to a wealthy aide, and the others were found in a Victoria's Secret shopping bag in Dixon's home when it was raided last year.
Dixon convicted of embezzlement
Jury acquits mayor of felony theft charge, but guilty finding could force her from office; 'the city will still continue to move forward'; prosecutor calls it 'sad day' for Baltimore
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