Pushing back against prosecutors who allege that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby falsely claimed Covid hardship to get early access to her tax-deferred retirement money, her lawyer says they were wrong – she did experience hardship.
While she did receive her nearly quarter-million-dollar salary in 2020, she faced losses from her private businesses, Mosby’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, told the New York Times and other media.
“Remember, Marilyn Mosby had businesses, if you will, and so those businesses were in the travel space and they were affected by it,” Bolden said on Roland S. Martin’s online broadcast last night.
But back in July 2020 – when Baltimore Brew disclosed the existence of Mahogany Elite Enterprises LLC and two other entities that Mosby had registered in her name – her spokesperson said the businesses were not “operational” and that she would not start them up until she was out of public office.
“There are no clients and she has not received a single cent in revenue,” communications director Zy Richardson stated in an email to The Brew about the businesses’ status.
Mosby then herself called on Baltimore Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming to investigate the businesses and her out-of-town travel, instructing Cumming, “I ask you to verify that I have not taken on a single client for these companies, nor have I taken in any money.”
Both emphatic statements were made two months after Mosby certified, on official forms, that she had experienced “adverse financial consequences” related to Covid-19.
This allowed her to illegally gain early access to $40,000 of her tax-deferred retirement funds to buy a Florida vacation home, yesterday’s federal indictment alleged.
Baltimore’s top prosecutor made the same Covid-related hardship claim five months later when she requested $50,000 more from her retirement account to buy a second Florida property, a condominium near Sarasota, according to the indictment.
Three Companies Created
Revelations about her private businesses came at the start of a period of public controversy for Mosby, who had cultivated a national profile since announcing charges against police officers in connection with the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.
As The Brew reported, Mosby incorporated Mahogany Elite Enterprises and two affiliates, Mahogany Elite Travel and Mahogany Elite Consulting, in May 2019, just months after she began her second term as state’s attorney.
It was unclear why Mosby had set up the companies if she did not plan to operate them until she left office, which would be no earlier than in January 2023.
Spokesperson Richardson said the companies’ purpose was to “to help underserved Black families who don’t usually have the opportunity to travel outside of urban cities.”
Mosby did not report the companies, as required, on her 2019 disclosure statement to the Maryland Ethics Commission.
Instead, an amended statement was submitted by Mosby months later after The Brew downloaded her original filing, which triggers notification to the filer.
Taking no questions, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby spoke briefly today to the media, saying she was innocent and vowing to “fight with every ounce of energy within my being.”
Mosby also alluded to The Brew’s July 2020 story about her out-of-town trips: “I did not expect for an investigation into my professional travel, which I asked for, to somehow snowball into state ethics and state election board inquiries, federal investigations, and ultimately a federal indictment.”
Brew reporting disclosed that Mosby had been traveling extensively pre-Covid, taking 23 out-of-state trips sponsored by nonprofits and other groups.
Mosby’s trips – to locations ranging from Kenya and Scotland to Germany and Portugal – served to deepen her knowledge of alternative approaches to criminal justice, Richardson said.
With Baltimore then experiencing its highest homicide rate ever, Mosby’s frequent travel (she was physically absent from her downtown office for more than 140 days in 2018 and 2019, Cumming reported) was raising criticism.
The exodus of experienced prosecutors, already underway in the wake of the failed prosecution of the Freddie Gray case, has accelerated over the last year.
A notable departure was the recent retirement of her chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, one of the lead prosecutors in the Gray case.
“Junior prosecutors who handled misdemeanor cases are stepping into murder and other felony cases,” a former SAO staffer who left in frustration told The Brew. “The lights are on, but no one’s home.”
Meanwhile Mosby had become an increasingly polarizing figure.
Lionized by national media as a “progressive Black prosecutor,” she was being hammered from the left in Baltimore for among other things, her prosecution of a Black man named Keith Davis Jr.
Incarcerated since 2015, Davis has been prosecuted by Mosby’s office four times without any resulting conviction.
Other voices, including that of Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, were attacking Mosby for her office’s policy to stop prosecuting drug possession and prostitution.
Mahogany Elite as Tax Dodge
In her letter asking Cumming to investigate, Mosby made her case at one point this way:
“The people of Baltimore have endured far too many corruption scandals and need to know what is and is not illegal,” she wrote.
But Cumming’s findings confirmed most of the reported issues – and raised some new ones.
The inspector general found that Mosby did not use Mahogany Elite as a source of income, but had instead claimed travel and professional expenses, reducing her 2019 taxable income by $5,000.
The IG also found that she used Mahogany Elite to book airfare for herself and her husband, Nick Mosby, from San Jose, Calif., where she had attended a prosecutors’ meeting, to Tampa. Fla.
(At the time, Nick Mosby was a state delegate. He is now City Council President. He is not named in the federal indictment.)
Reviewing the State Department of Assessments and Taxation online database, the three companies are still listed in good standing and still list Marilyn Mosby as owner and resident agent.
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