- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 10, 2009

A grand jury has indicted Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon on 12 counts of theft, perjury and misconduct stemming from her romantic relationship with a Baltimore developer, the state prosecutor said Friday.

The prosecutor’s office charged Mrs. Dixon with four counts of theft, saying she used gift cards donated for needy families to buy presents for herself around Christmas every year from 2004 to 2007.

Mrs. Dixon, a prominent Democrat who was elected the city’s first female mayor in 2007, also was charged with four counts of perjury for not documenting gifts from two developers doing business with the city. The developers are not named in the indictment of Mrs. Dixon, but one is thought to be Ronald H. Lipscomb, who was indicted earlier.

Mrs. Dixon said she would not step down as mayor and defended herself Friday afternoon.

“I am being unfairly accused,” she said. “Time will prove that I have done nothing wrong, and I am confident that I will be found innocent of these charges.”

Maryland State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh, who was appointed by former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2005, said it was an ethics law introduced by Mrs. Dixon that helped ensnare her.

“Baltimore City has enacted laws which are intended to assure public trust will not be violated,” Mr. Rohrbaugh said. “Such laws are not to be ignored by the very officials who have enacted them.”

Mrs. Dixon submitted a change to the city’s ethics code in 2003 that barred elected officials from receiving gifts from anyone doing business with the city.

The state prosecutor’s office, an independent state agency in charge of investigating public corruption, announced the indictment on its Web site Friday, two days after securing indictments against one of Mrs. Dixon’s allies on the Baltimore City Council, Helen Holton, and against the mayor’s brief love interest: Mr. Lipscomb.

The indictment marks the third Democrat the prosecutor’s office has charged with public corruption this week. It filed charges against Baltimore County Council member Kenneth Oliver on Monday, Mrs. Holton on Wednesday and Mrs. Dixon on Friday.

Maryland Republicans seized on the round of corruption charges.

“Earlier this year I said that the question was not whether the next scandal would occur but when,” Maryland Republican Party Chairman Jim Pelura said. “Once again the culture of corruption is rearing its head amongst Maryland Democrat politicians.”

Mrs. Dixon has retained attorneys Arnold M. Weiner and Dale P. Kelberman, a prominent white-collar defense attorney. Mr. Kelberman is also representing Democratic state Sen. Ulysses Currie, one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers who has been the subject of a federal grand jury probe since late last spring.

The Baltimore mayor’s relationship with Mr. Lipscomb, a Baltimore developer who secured millions in contracts with the city as a minority contractor, was revealed last year.

Mrs. Dixon received key support in her 2007 mayoral campaign from a handful of the state’s Democratic power brokers, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.

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