Dixon pleads guilty, receives probation, resigns post, effective in February

Surrounded by members of her staff, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announces that she will resign, part of a plea deal that brought a years-long corruption investigation to a close and ended the tenure of the city's first female mayor.

Dixon left office Feb. 4, the day she was sentenced both for a guilty plea she entered in a perjury case and for her embezzlement conviction in December 2009. She kept her $83,000 pension, and her criminal record will be wiped clean if she completes the terms of her probation within four years.

A teary Dixon returned to City Hall to announce her resignation, saying that she was doing so "with deep regret and sadness." She did not apologize but said there would come a time, after sentencing, that she could give her full side of the story.

"I love the city. I love the people of this city," said Dixon, who was raised in West Baltimore, where she still lives. "Now it's time to move on." (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / January 6, 2010)

Politicians everywhere get sold to the highest bidder. In Baltimore their coats do, too. Sheila Dixon's furs are bound for eBay.

Prosecutors said they will auction off the burnt umber mink and Persian lamb coats that the mayor purchased, in part, with a $2,000 Mano Swartz gift certificate from developer Ron Lipscomb

Proceeds will go to charity. And Dixon wouldn't want it any other way, if you believe attorney Arnold Weiner, who called his client "an uncommonly charitable person."

"Uncommonly" in the sense that most people who, say, solicit gift cards for needy children don't spend them on themselves?

No, really, Dixon truly is selfless, at least as Weiner tells it.

That $45,000 she'll have to donate to the Bea Gaddy Family Center, an AIDS charity or some other nonprofit before her four-year probationary period is up? Business as usual! Dixon has been giving at that "same rate throughout her adult life," Weiner told the assembled media outside the courthouse.

Could be. But if Dixon is so extraordinarily giving, you couldn't tell by the behind-the-scenes haggling that led up to Wednesday's deal. At least not by State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh's account.

A reporter asked Rohrbaugh to name the major sticking point in negotiations that began when the defense called prosecutors just before New Year's to say, "We want to talk," and continued into Wednesday afternoon.

Was Dixon fighting to hang onto her job? No, her cash.

Rohrbaugh said the sticking point was "monetary amounts."

Maybe the charity-minded mayor was fighting to give more money away.

More than one new look

Everybody figures Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been dying to take over as mayor, but only her hairdresser and personal trainer know for sure. The City Council president, who will become mayor when Dixon steps down, has lost weight in recent months. City Hall wags have long buzzed that her slimmed-down self signaled her intention to become mayor. (Sounds sexist, but even Doug Duncan has confessed that he diets when he runs for office.)

Fitness is not a prerequisite for the job of mayor, of course, but the city's last two, Dixon and Martin O'Malley, were workout fanatics. Dixon has often ribbed Rawlings-Blake publicly about her weight, so she had an added incentive to slim down.

Along with her waistline, Rawlings-Blake's hairline has changed, too. After wearing it big and curly or pulled back for many years, she recently trotted out a sleek style with bangs that many compared to Cleopatra 's. Now, suddenly, the bangs are gone, and she has a softer, layered look.

O'Malley: not a word

Sure sign that your erstwhile "Partner in Progress" has left you behind: Gov. O'Malley's thoughts and prayers were conspicuously NOT with the outgoing mayor. His official statement made no mention of the woman he'd campaigned with, only offering support to her successor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

'There's no conviction'

Forget what you've read. Mayor Dixon was never convicted of anything. Because Judge Dennis Sweeney

has pledged to sentence her to probation before judgment, the guilty verdict the jury returned shortly after Thanksgiving will be wiped away if Dixon successfully completes the terms of her probation. "There's no conviction," Weiner told reporters. What do you call that verdict? Said Weiner: "A jury finding."