- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

BALTIMORE | Store receipts prove Mayor Sheila Dixon used gift cards meant for people in need during personal shopping sprees, prosecutors said Thursday, though defense attorneys argued they were intended for her use.

Prosecutors showed slides of the receipts to jurors in opening statements.

Defense attorneys said Ms. Dixon’s former boyfriend, developer Ronald Lipscomb, had anonymously given her gift cards for her to use as she pleased. Developer Patrick Turner also donated gift cards, and Ms. Dixon confused those with the cards given by Mr. Lipscomb, defense attorney Arnold Weiner said.

That means there is no evidence she intentionally stole gift cards meant for families in need — which prosecutors must prove to convict her, Mr. Weiner said.

“She never knew they came from him, she thought they were Mr. Lipscomb’s,” Mr. Weiner told jurors.

Ms. Dixon, who would automatically be removed from office if convicted, sat quietly in a dark suit during the proceedings, occasionally taking notes or highlighting documents with a pink marker.

Mr. Turner and Mr. Lipscomb have been identified as potential witnesses. Earlier Thursday, the judge ruled prosecutors may not use evidence related to a third batch of gift cards. Prosecutors wanted a third developer, Glenn Charlow, to testify, but defense attorneys argued that evidence came too late for them to prepare.

State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh held gift cards and long receipts in his hand as he presented his opening statements, showing jurors slides of the receipts in the courtroom.

Mr. Rohrbaugh said the receipts show the cards were used along with a reward card under Ms. Dixon’s name that gave points for frequent shoppers. Mr. Rohrbaugh said other cards were used by Ms. Dixon’s daughter and others she knew - “not needy people who were intended to receive them.”

A raid of Ms. Dixon’s home later turned up some of the items listed on the receipts, including a video camera and a “Four Brothers” DVD that was never watched because “it wasn’t even opened,” the prosecutor said.

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