By Alexis Taylor
Special to the AFRO
The purchase of two out-of-state vacation homes are at the center of the federal indictment for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron announced a four-count indictment, on Jan.13, with agents from the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Baltimore Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A federal grand jury indicted Mosby after considering alleged violations of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act) and hearing evidence related to false statements in the mortgage applications for two vacation homes in Florida.
The 19-page indictment alleges that Mosby first falsely claimed financial hardship during the coronavirus pandemic in order to withdraw large amounts of money from her retirement early under special guidelines created by the CARES Act.
The CARES Act allows contributors to complete early withdrawals of up to $100,000 from their retirement accounts, as long as they “affirm under penalty for perjury” that the withdrawal is needed due to financial hardship directly caused by the pandemic.
According to the indictment, Mosby lied in May 2020 when she checked a box that said she was withdrawing her funds early because her income was negatively impacted by the virus. The box Mosby allegedly checked was reserved for people facing financial hardship as a result of quarantine, furlough, reduced work hours, a lack of childcare or the closing or downsizing of a personal business during the pandemic.
“In fact, Mosby’s gross salary in 2020 was $247,955.58 and it was never reduced. She received bi-weekly gross pay direct deposits in the among of $9,183.54 in all the months leading up to her ‘City of Baltimore Retirement Saving and Deferred Compensation Plans 457(b) Coronavirus-Related Distribution Request’ in May 2020,” reads the indictment. “Rather than experiencing a reduction in 2020, Mosby’s gross salary in 2020 increased over her gross salary in 2019, which was $238,772.04.”
Mosby then used the premature withdrawal of $40,000 to help purchase a $490,500 vacation home in Kissimmee, Florida, where – in exchange for a lower interest rate- Mosby allegedly claimed she would live for a year before attempting to use the home as a rental property.
The jury believed the interest rate discount was provided on false pretenses, given that Mosby had arranged for a property management company to oversee vacation rentals at the Kissimmee home just one week prior to closing on the property.
The Baltimore City State’s Attorney also chose not to disclose tax liens when specifically asked in the loan application submitted for the Kissimmee property in September 2020.
“The application required Mosby to disclose her liabilities. Mosby did not disclose that she owed significant amounts of federal taxes,” states the indictment.
“In response to the question, ‘Are you presently delinquent or in default on any Federal debt or any other loan, mortgage, financial obligation, bond, or loan guarantee,’ Mosby indicated ‘no’ despite the fact that she was delinquent in the payment of federal taxes resulting in the IRS filing a $45,022 lien against her on March 3, 2020.”
Mosby walked into counts three and four of the indictment by allegedly engaging in a second round of some of the exact behaviors that led to counts one and two.
At the end of December 2020, the indictment states that Mosby “requested a one-time withdrawal of $50,000 from her City of Baltimore employee retirement account.”
Again, under the penalty for perjury, Mosby claimed that she qualified to receive a “coronavirus-related distribution” due to financial hardship. On the last day of the year she received $45,000.
The money was used in February 2021 to purchase another Florida vacation home- this time in Long Boat Key. Again, Mosby did not disclose tax liens she was made aware of in March of 2020.
Authorities have indicated that they will “seek forfeiture” of “any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the scheme to defraud.”
“If convicted, Mosby faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of two counts of perjury and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison for each of two counts of making false mortgage applications,” stated the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a statement on the indictment.
The DOJ clarified that an indictment does not mean Mosby is guilty and she is presumed innocent until court proceedings find that she is guilty.
Mosby has long drawn criticism for her indictment of six officers involved in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. Last year she announced her office will stop prosecuting cases for marijuana-related arrests, while also seeking to vacate marijuana convictions as far back as 2011.
Mosby’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden was not immediately available for comment, but told 11 News in a statement that Mosby “will prevail against these bogus charges — charges that are rooted in personal, political and racial animus five months from her election.”
“Two counts of perjury and two counts of false statements in connection to her borrowing from her own 401(k) and her borrowing to purchase her home(s) is a far cry from criminal tax evasion and tax related charges that were at the heart of this federal investigation,” stated Bolden.
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