Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby doubled down on an argument that the assertions she made under the penalties of perjury don’t matter, and that the charges federal prosecutors brought against her as a result of those statements should be dismissed.
The two-term Democrat is indicted on two counts of perjury and two counts of mortgage fraud. Federal prosecutors say she falsely claimed to have suffered financially to make early withdrawals from her city retirement savings account under the federal CARES Act, Congress’ first coronavirus pandemic relief bill.
Mosby’s alleged lies netted her approximately $81,000, which she used toward down payments on a pair of properties in Florida: an eight-bedroom rental near Disney World and a condo on the state’s Gulf Coast, according to the indictment.
But, lawyers for Mosby argued, her checking the box that she experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19 as a way to qualify for coronavirus relief doesn’t matter because her assertion wasn’t intended to influence the company that administers the city’s retirement plan, Nationwide.
The defense lawyers also contend that nobody can be prosecuted for perjury based on the ambiguous language Mosby attested to: that she suffered “adverse financial consequences.”
Federal prosecutors last month described Mosby’s argument as dystopian. They said Nationwide wouldn’t have disbursed the money but for Mosby’s lies and that the retirement plan relied on her statements, made under the penalty of perjury, to be truthful before releasing the funds.
The government disputed that CARES Act language was ambiguous, saying evidence will show Mosby didn’t meet any of the four categories outlined to qualify for coronavirus relief under “adverse financial consequences”: reduced work hours; being quarantined, furloughed or laid off; being unable to work because of a lack of child care or owning a business that closed or had reduced hours.
Prosecutors confused the definition of “adverse financial consequences” with possible causes for adverse financial consequences, Mosby’s lawyers wrote in a reply to the government’s response filed Friday. The pleading largely repeated the arguments they laid out in a June 1 motion to dismiss the perjury charges, which U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby allowed to go forward.
Breaking News Alerts
Griggsby will next hear from the lawyers in a courtroom. According to the judge’s most recent scheduling order, the next hearing is set for Sept. 14, five days before Mosby’s trial.
Mosby is running for a third term as Baltimore’s elected prosecutor. The Democratic primary is set for July 19.
Last week, Griggsby found Mosby qualified for government relief under the Criminal Justice Act, and granted her request for court funding to pay for expert witnesses. Griggsby found Mosby could not afford to consult experts up front, but that the state’s attorney, who makes a salary of about $248,000 a year from the city, has the means to pay the court back in installments over time.
Mosby’s lawyers said in court documents filed in March that the defense plans to consult experts who conducted a forensic analysis of her personal and business finances along with people with expertise about the CARES Act and federal tax liens.
The indictment also charges her with two counts of making false statements on loan applications for one of the Florida properties. Federal prosecutors say Mosby neglected to disclose a federal tax lien and claimed the vacation home near Orlando was going to be a second home when she’d arranged for a management company to operate it as a rental, securing a lower interest rate.
Her lawyers have not targeted the mortgage fraud charges in recent pleadings, which marked a change in her defense. At first, Mosby’s attorneys targeted federal prosecutors in court papers with allegations of animus.
Griggsby rejected those arguments in April, and Mosby’s defense team has refocused on nuanced legal arguments.