Saturday, January 10, 2009
Sheila Dixon, the mayor of Baltimore, was indicted yesterday on 12 different counts of fraud, theft, and perjury. This came after a three-year investigation by the state of Maryland that covered the time that she was president of Baltimore’s city council to the time when she became Baltimore’s first woman mayor in 2007. Dixon has been accused of stealing over $2,000 worth of gift cards donated to the city by organizations for needy families. She then failed to disclose the purchases that she made with these gift cards, including a Playstation 2, XBOX 360, and a digital camera, along with other electronic devices that she stated she bought for “personal benefit”. Also, she is accused of not disclosing her trips to Chicago and New York City with Ronald H. Lipscomb, a widely-known developer in Baltimore and Dixon’s former boyfriend.
During a news conference yesterday, Dixon denied the charges. She stated “I am being unfairly accused. Time will prove that I have done nothing wrong, and I am confident that I will be found innocent of these charges. I will continue to put all of my energies into running the City of Baltimore during these perilous economic times. And with God’s grace, I am confident that the city, my family and I will weather this storm.” In an address to the public on his web site, Robert A. Rohrbaugh, the state prosecutor of Maryland, said “The citizens of Baltimore have every right to expect their public officials will be open and honest and will not use the office for personal motives, gain or greed.” If Dixon is convicted of all 12 charges she was indicted on, she may face up to 85 years in prison, including 15 possible years for each of the two counts of felony theft.
City officials generally stood behind Dixon in the case. Martin O’Malley, state governor of Maryland, “This is a tough day for all of us who care about Baltimore’s progress, and for Mayor Dixon and her family. It is my sincere hope that all of these long drawn-out matters will soon be resolved in a court of law once all the facts are known.” Maggie L. McIntosh, a member of the United States Democratic Party from Annapolis, remarked on the indictment “I did note that there was no charge that she was in any way bribed. We now need to hear her side of the case.”