Federal investigators bound for Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby’s office were led into City Hall last month by city Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming, surveillance video released by the city shows.
The video, timestamped at 11:14 a.m. March 10, shows three agents in plainclothes entering the building. They carry accordion files, other paperwork and books. Walking ahead of them is Cumming, who holds the front door for one agent before ascending a short flight of stairs.
Among the agents was FBI Special Agent Christine Parr, who was a key investigator in the investigation of then-Mayor Catherine Pugh in 2019.
In the video, a Baltimore Police Department officer stands guard at the entrance, but Cumming does not provide identification. City staff are generally not asked to identify themselves at the door. The agents shown on the video do not walk through a metal detector, nor do they sign the log book for visitors. The video doesn’t have audio.
Agents proceeded to Mosby’s office on the fourth floor of City Hall. The video, provided to The Baltimore Sun in response to a Public Information Act request, does not include surveillance footage of the fourth floor. The city does not have any footage “to capture the handing off of documents to Nick Mosby,” city attorney Hilary Ruley wrote in an email to The Sun.
The video offers a glimpse into the investigation. The images of Cumming assisting federal investigators also stand to figure into continuing criticism from Nick Mosby and his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, whose attorneys have previously claimed that Cumming unfairly maligned Marilyn Mosby. The pair’s attorney renewed that charge Friday, arguing the video further suggests personal, political and racial motivation for the probe.
At least six grand jury subpoenas have been issued in the matter, seeking a wide range of financial records related to the couple, including tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, loan documents and canceled checks. Marilyn Mosby’s campaign treasurer was subpoenaed for records tracing back to 2014, some related to the Mosbys’ private travel and consulting businesses, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The Sun via another Public Information Act request.
The Sun reported in October that the Internal Revenue Service filed a $45,000 lien against the Mosbys’ home for three years worth of unpaid taxes. The IRS filing shows the couple owed nearly $23,000 for the 2014 tax year, more than $19,000 for 2015 and about $3,000 for 2016. Online court records do not show the lien as paid, though Nick Mosby said in December that he paid off the amount.
No one has been charged with a crime. Both Mosbys are Democrats.
A. Scott Bolden, an attorney for the Mosbys, said previously that federal agents confronted Nick Mosby at City Hall during a March 10 meeting of the Board of Estimates, which he chairs as council president. That virtual meeting began at 9 a.m. and lasted two hours and 23 minutes before wrapping up without any apparent interruption, according to video on the city’s CharmTV site. It does not show agents with Mosby.
Bolden issued a statement Friday calling Cumming’s actions a “coordinated, personal and purposeful attempt to cast public aspersions on my clients and to publicly disclose a grand jury investigation.”
“Further, it speaks volumes to her ill intentions against Nick and Marilyn Mosby that appears to be personally, politically and even racially motivated,” he added. “Let me be painfully clear, this video, coupled with the named prosecutors that we have sought to be removed from this investigation due to their own personal and political animus, are why the Mosbys are being investigated — not because of any wrong doing on their part.” Nick and Marilyn Mosby are Black.
Bolden asked the Department of Justice last month to remove Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo Wise and Stephen Schenning from the case, arguing Wise has a vendetta against Marilyn Mosby.
Cumming said she was asked to bring the agents into City Hall as a “professional courtesy.”
“I was contacted by the local field office of the FBI and the IRS that we partner with and asked to quietly escort agents into City Hall,” she said.
Cumming said she complied to “minimize the attention” the visit would receive.
She declined to comment on the investigation, although she has been engaged in a public dispute with Marilyn Mosby this year over an investigation Cumming’s office conducted.
Faced with questions about her travel abroad to criminal justice conferences and her private travel businesses, Marilyn Mosby publicly asked the inspector general to open an investigation, suggesting the results would dispel notions of wrongdoing.
Cumming published her findings seven months later, reporting Mosby spent 144 days away from Baltimore in 2018 and 2019 — or one workday a week; Mosby’s office has disputed the number of days.
Cumming faulted Mosby for not requesting approval from the city’s spending panel for more than a dozen trips in 2018 and 2019. Nonprofit groups flew her to conferences in destinations such as Kenya, Scotland and Portugal. Private attorneys for Mosby arguing that because the nonprofits — not taxpayers — paid for her travels, Mosby had no obligation to request approval.
The Baltimore Brew news website was the first to raise questions about Marilyn Mosby’s travel and private businesses.
Maryland Policy & Politics
After Cumming’s report came out, Baltimore City Solicitor Jim Shea issued an opinion that found no fault with the state’s attorney. He concluded the city’s rules for travel by elected officials are ambiguous and inconsistently applied.
Leaders of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP spoke out about Cumming’s report, saying her investigation of Mosby represented to a “tipping point” in concerns they have about the inspector general’s office and “what appears to be disparate and biased treatment of African American leaders.” Cumming has responded that Mosby asked her to investigate and that neither she nor her staff are biased.
Cumming has assisted with previous federal investigations inside City Hall. During an interview in July with The Sun, she spoke about her role in the investigation into Pugh, the former Democratic mayor, saying “OIG provided integral support during the execution of the search warrant on City Hall with the FBI.”
The FBI and IRS raided City Hall in April 2019 as part of the fraud investigation of Pugh, removing copies of the then-mayor’s self-published “Healthy Holly” books and other documents.
“In the end, we are on the same team with our federal and state partners with the shared mission to combat fraud, waste, abuse and corruption,” Cumming said in recounting that investigation.
A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment Friday, saying the agency does not confirm or deny investigations.
Baltimore Sun reporters Justin Fenton and Tim Prudente contributed to this article.