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Prosecutor who handled Maryland political corruption cases retires

Thomas McDonough, one of the prosecutors in the trial of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, is shown exiting court in 2009. McDonough is retiring after more than three decades in the prosecutor's office.
Thomas McDonough, one of the prosecutors in the trial of former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, is shown exiting court in 2009. McDonough is retiring after more than three decades in the prosecutor's office. (Gene Sweeney Jr / Baltimore Sun)

A top-ranking prosecutor who has handled political corruption cases in Maryland for three decades has retired, the Office of the State Prosecutor announced Thursday.

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas “Mike” McDonough spent more than 33 years with the state prosecutor’s office, which investigates potential wrongdoing by government officials, politicians and candidates.

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McDonough headed the investigation into former Baltimore County schools superintendent Dallas Dance, who is scheduled to go on trial next week on perjury charges. Dance is accused of falsely stating on his financial disclosure forms filed with the school system that he didn’t earn any outside income personally or through his consulting company from certain companies.

McDonough also helped successfully prosecute former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, a Republican who was convicted in 2013 of two counts of misconduct for using public employees to perform political and personal tasks.

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And McDonough co-prosecuted former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Democrat who resigned from office after entering an Alford plea to a perjury charge. The plea allowed her to maintain innocence while acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her of failing to disclose gifts from her then-boyfriend, who was a developer whose company benefited from city tax breaks and contracts.

In a related case, a Baltimore jury found Dixon guilty of embezzling $500 worth of retail gift cards intended for the needy.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said McDonough’s efforts will be missed.

“Mike has been the consummate public servant,” Davitt said in a statement. “He worked tirelessly, never sought personal recognition and always remembered that he was here to serve the citizens of Maryland.”

This is the second departure of a key employee from the Office of the State Prosecutor in the past year. Chief investigator James I. Cabezas retired last spring after 40 years in the office.

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