Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Sheila Dixon's financial woes detailed in state documents

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon's city pension deal rankled many in 2010 — even sparking a small protest outside City Hall — but she did not get a free pass after being found guilty of embezzlement and perjury charges.

To keep her $83,000 a year payout, Dixon had to donate $45,000 to charity, do 500 hours of community service and not seek office. Last week, Dixon was charged with a probation violation after falling almost $14,000 behind on the required payments, according to state records.

The Baltimore Sun obtained her court file, which provided more information about the charges. But the probation division had first raised concerns with the judge who handled the case in September, which was not reflected in the court record.

Because most probation documents are public, The Sun was able to reconstruct the course of Dixon's charitable contributions. They had been intermittent from the get-go, according to court records and files maintained by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Dixon has said she's had trouble keeping up with the payments.

For Dixon to be found in violation of her terms, prosecutors would have to show that she had the ability make the payments and chose not to, according to defense attorney Andrew I. Alperstein. He said failure to make court-ordered payments is fairly common, but such cases are "very defensible."

Alperstein said he has drawn up spreadsheets showing his clients' income and expenses demonstrating their inability to pay, so at the violation hearing Dec. 7 the public could get a chance to see where its pension money is going.

—Ian Duncan

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