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Crime

Prosecutors: Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s arguments to dismiss charges ‘Orwellian,’ should be rejected

Federal prosecutors responded Thursday to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s renewed push to dismiss the perjury charges against her by calling her legal arguments “Orwellian.”

After rejecting Mosby’s first attempt to have the charges dismissed on the grounds of vindictive prosecution, U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby agreed earlier this month to hear the two-term Democrat’s new arguments for dismissal of the perjury charges.

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Mosby’s lawyers on June 1 argued that the perjury charges against her should be dismissed because the federal government’s guidelines for who was eligible for coronavirus relief were fundamentally ambiguous.

Under the CARES Act, the first pandemic relief bill, Congress temporarily allowed government workers to withdraw retirement funds if they claimed a business they owned had closed or taken a loss, or if they had suffered “adverse financial consequences” because of COVID-19.

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Mosby’s lawyers are arguing that it does not matter whether the financial consequences she claimed are true, because checking a box saying you suffered financially has “no probative weight” and is not “capable of influencing” a plan into making a coronavirus-related disbursement.

Mosby is indicted on two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. Federal prosecutors allege Mosby lied in 2020 about suffering financially from the coronavirus to withdraw approximately $81,000 from her retirement savings account to make down payments on a pair of vacation properties in Florida: an eight-bedroom rental near Disney World and a condo on the state’s Gulf Coast.

The two-term Democrat is running for reelection in a three-way primary, with early voting slated to start next week. Primary election day is July 19.

Prosecutors, in their response, called Mosby’s argument about ambiguity “Orwellian,” or dystopian, and laid out how they plan to prove at trial in detail why she did not qualify for coronavirus relief.

Prosecutors said the evidence will show Mosby did not have reduced work hours; was not “quarantined, furloughed or laid off”; was not unable to work because of a lack of childcare and did not have a business that closed or experienced reduced hours. Those are the four categories the government established for people to qualify for coronavirus relief under by way of “adverse financial consequences” from the pandemic.

Mosby’s request for a retirement account withdrawal is included included in the court record, and her signature is under the portion where it asks the requester to affirm “under the penalties of perjury” that the statements made in the request are true.

Mosby’s lawyers had argued nobody could be prosecuted for perjury under such ambiguous language. Their new filing is a shift in her defense to fighting the charges on legal grounds, rather than using personal attacks against Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek Barron and lead prosecutor Leo Wise, who Mosby’s defense called racist.

Griggsby didn’t buy those arguments, calling them “problematic” in an April 14 hearing where she denied their first motion to dismiss the charges.

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Mosby’s lawyers now argue that her claims of financial hardship were not intended to influence a “decision making body” into permitting the withdrawals, and as such, they did not matter.

Federal prosecutors rebutted that the decision-making body was Baltimore’s “Deferred Compensation Plan” and that the plan’s administrators relied on the state’s attorney’s representations to make decisions about disbursements.

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“The Defendant’s argument is essentially that Congress cared enough to write into the law the specific ‘adverse financial consequences’ that allow a plan participant to make a withdrawal but at the same time the Congress didn’t care if the Defendant actually suffered from them,” prosecutors wrote. “Such an argument is nonsensical.”

Mosby received her full salary in 2020, the year she made the retirement withdrawals.

In the past, Mosby’s lead defense attorney, A. Scott Bolden, had mentioned Mosby’s travel and consulting businesses as a possible explanation for why she sought the retirement money.

“Remember, Marilyn Mosby has businesses, if you will,” Bolden said in a January appearance on Roland Martin’s YouTube show. “And so, those businesses were in the travel space and they were affected by [the coronavirus] and her accountant urged her to take that money.”

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However, at the same time she made her 2020 withdrawals, Mosby asked Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming for an investigation into her businesses to prove they existed in name only and weren’t actually operable.

“I ask that you verify that I have not taken on a single client for these companies, nor have I taken in any money,” Mosby wrote in a July 2020 letter to Cumming. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false, misleading, and unethical.”

Mosby’s criminal trial is set for Sept. 19.


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