The U.S. Department of Justice refused to yank two federal prosecutors in Baltimore off the criminal tax investigation into Marilyn and Nick Mosby, rejecting requests from the couple’s attorney who claimed the men are biased and leaked news of the case to reporters.
The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility informed the Mosbys’ attorney in a letter obtained Monday by The Baltimore Sun that it found no evidence to support the claims. Further, authorities wouldn’t interfere in an ongoing criminal investigation in Baltimore, wrote William J. Birney, deputy counsel for OPR in Washington.
“It is OPR’s longstanding, well-established policy to refrain from intervening in ongoing investigations or litigation absent a judicial finding of misconduct or other extraordinary circumstances,” Birney wrote to the Mosbys’ attorney on April 12. “An allegation that a criminal investigation lacks merit and is motivated solely by the animus of the prosecutors may be submitted to the court for its consideration during the course of litigation should criminal charges be brought.”
Marilyn Mosby is the Baltimore City State’s Attorney and Nick Mosby, her husband, is the president of the Baltimore City Council.
The letter was obtained by The Sun through a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
A. Scott Bolden, attorney for the Mosbys, wrote in an email Monday that he’s disappointed the department chose not to remove the prosecutors or even investigate his claims.
“The investigators need to be investigated now, not later, as the personal, the political, and perhaps even the racial animus towards my client (s), continues to negatively taint any independent review of my clients’ conduct,” Bolden wrote. “Waiting for a judicial determination, as DOJ suggests, doesn’t resolve the issue—it exacerbates the potential harm.”
The Department of Justice was responding to two complaint letters Bolden sent last March. The defense attorney called the federal investigation a “political witch hunt” and demanded authorities remove veteran assistant U.S. attorneys Stephen Schenning and Leo Wise from the case.
Wise, in particular, has been recognized widely for his work to take down the rogue city cops in the Gun Trace Task Force, and successfully prosecuted former Mayor Catherine Pugh, who is serving a three-year federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to tax fraud and other charges. Wise also brought a criminal tax case against former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa. The commissioner got 10 months in federal prison for cheating on his taxes.
In the complaint letters, Bolden wrote that Wise made a reckless accusation in open court three years ago that a prosecutor in Marilyn Mosby’s office had tipped off the rogue cops about the federal investigation. In fact, Bolden wrote, the tip likely had been about a state investigation — not the federal one. That accusation caused tension between Marilyn Mosby and federal prosecutors, Bolden wrote.
He also complained that Wise made campaign donations of $100 each to two Democrats who challenged Mosby in the primary election. And he accused federal prosecutors of deliberately leaking the news that Marilyn and Nick Mosby were under criminal tax investigation.
The Sun broke the news in March after obtaining a copy of a grand jury subpoena that Marilyn Mosby’s campaign treasurer forwarded to state elections officials. The Sun obtained the subpoena through a request under Maryland’s Public Information Act. Federal prosecutors also subpoenaed Baltimore churches for records of donations the couple may have made, according to the subpoenas and attorneys for two churches.
“You provided no evidence that [Assistant U.S. Attorneys] Schenning and Wise intentionally disclosed grand jury information to the media in an effort ‘to harass, degrade, and embarrass’ your clients or that other Department employees were responsible for the disclosures,” the Department of Justice attorney wrote to Bolden. “OPR’s review of media reports relating to this matter revealed numerous possible sources of the information and yielded no evidence indicating that the [U.S. Attorney’s Office] was responsible for the disclosure.”
Federal authorities have declined to answer questions repeatedly about the ongoing criminal tax investigation. In addition, Marilyn Mosby has said little beyond that she feels she’s being unfairly targeted. Prosecutors issued subpoenas for the Mosbys’ financial records, including documents related to their political campaigns, private businesses and charitable donations.
The tax investigation comes on the heels of a review by the city inspector general of Marilyn Mosby’s private businesses and frequent travels to criminal justice conferences around the world. Mosby herself requested the review; the city solicitor placed no fault on her. Still, the review led officials to tighten rules for travel by elected officials — even if private groups, not taxpayers, foot the bill.
The Sun reported in October that the IRS placed a $45,000 lien against the property of Marilyn and Nick Mosby for three years of unpaid federal taxes. Online court records do not show the lien as paid.