As lawyers for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby doubled down on their allegations of vindictiveness from federal prosecutors, the feds revealed a new detail about their case: The government has recordings of phone calls between Mosby and the company that manages the city’s retirement plan.
The revelation came to light during a flurry of filings in Mosby’s federal case Friday, first in the form of a letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise and then in a lengthy legal pleading the defense filed in another attempt to discredit Wise ahead of Mosby’s first court appearance.
“The United States has provided all recorded calls in its possession between the defendant and Nationwide,” reads the letter, referring to the company that manages Baltimore’s deferred compensation plans, according to court records.
Wise’s letter responded to Mosby’s defense claiming the government has not been appropriately forthcoming about prosecutors’ plans on whether they will call expert witnesses. The defense had argued that hiccups in the pretrial exchange of information between prosecution and defense could impact the May 2 trial date.
Mosby is charged with two counts of perjury related to her penalty-free withdrawals from her retirement account, and the assertions she made to secure those withdrawals go to the heart of the government’s case.
“If the government is trying to prove what was said and what representations were made, that’s going to be the best evidence,” said Andrew I. Alperstein, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor. “It’s also particularly persuasive in a trial to hear the voice of the accused.”
It’s unlikely the federal government wiretapped Mosby’s phones, Alperstein said. Instead, it’s likely Nationwide recorded the calls as common business practice.
Prosecutors claim Mosby lied in 2020 about experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic so she could withdraw $81,000 without penalty from her City of Baltimore retirement savings account to make down payments on two Florida homes: an eight-bedroom rental near Disney World and a condo on the state’s Gulf Coast.
“Without those two withdrawals, she would not have been able to make the down payment on either of the two Florida vacation homes she purchased in September 2020 and February 2021,” federal prosecutors wrote in a separate filing. “Simply put, the defendant’s perjury allowed her to leverage $90,000 in funds she should not have had access to in order to get two vacation homes.”
Mosby also faces two counts of making false statements on loan applications in order to purchase the homes. Federal prosecutors said she lied on the loan applications by failing to disclose a tax lien and claiming a house near Orlando was going to be a second home when she’d already lined up a company to run it as a rental, a maneuver to secure a lower interest rate.
Mosby’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, did not respond to a request for comment Friday evening.
Her attorneys have responded to the charges by railing against the U.S. Attorney’s Office with formal legal arguments alleging vindictive and selective prosecution. The defense lawyers accused Wise of pursuing, and U.S. Attorney Erek Barron signing off on, a case driven by personal and political animosity the pair harbor. They have sought to have Wise removed from the case, and the indictment against Mosby dismissed.
Federal prosecutors dismissed the claims as legally and factually meritless, saying their prosecution is driven by the evidence against Mosby.
Friday was the deadline for Mosby’s attorneys to offer a rebuttal. With their last opportunity to address the allegations in writing ahead of their first appearance in court April 14, Mosby’s lawyers looked to take her defense of malicious prosecution to the end, calling for Wise to take the stand and provide sworn testimony about his feelings about the state’s attorney and his handling of the case.
Breaking News Alerts
Mosby’s political opponents each solicited $100 contributions from Wise during the last campaign, something she claims is proof of his animus toward her. Mosby’s lawyers want the opportunity to question Wise about those contributions, along with a statement he made while prosecuting one of the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force officers and his handling of the Department of Justice’s probe of Mosby’s taxes.
Alperstein said the arguments from Mosby’s defense serve to distract from the charges she faces.
“It may not be political, it may be designed to confuse and cloud things, and sometimes when you don’t have anything else, you just want to muck it up,” Alperstein said.
The response from federal prosecutors Friday sheds light on letters Mosby’s attorney sent them and included as exhibits in a request to meet with prosecutors and U.S. District Judge Lydia K. Griggsby next week. The exhibits were filed under seal at Bolden’s request, but his argument hinted at the possibility of the trial date being impacted.
From the time Mosby was indicted Jan. 13, she and her lawyers have been pushing for a speedy trial, arguing a delay could impact her bid for reelection.
Federal prosecutors said in the letter they have provided all the information they’re required to the defense, and that they don’t plan to call any expert witnesses.
They are scheduled to confer Wednesday with Griggsby in a teleconference.