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Baltimore prosecutor Mosby claims she didn’t know about tax lien, accuses prosecutors of bias

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby addresses the media outside her office on a day after her indictment on federal perjury charges on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. A lawyer for Baltimore’s top prosecutor, A. Scott Bolden, has outlined her defense against federal criminal charges stemming from her purchase of two Florida vacation homes. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is claiming in new court filings that she did not know about a federal tax lien that is central to the government’s allegation that she lied on loan applications for two properties in Florida.

In a series of pretrial motions filed late Friday, Mosby’s attorneys provided the most detailed accounting yet of their plan to defend the city’s top prosecutor in federal court. Mosby faces two counts each of perjury and making false statements on loan applications.

The filings claim that Mosby’s husband, City Council President Nick Mosby, did not inform her of a snowballing series of tax issues he was facing, and that neither knew about a $45,000 lien against their home until a reporter asked about it in October 2020.

The motions, which ask a federal judge to dismiss the indictment against Marilyn Mosby, also argue that the prosecutors pursuing the case are biased against her. Since Mosby’s indictment on Jan. 13, she and an attorney representing her have both accused member of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland of political and racial animus.

The government has not responded to the pretrial motions, which include a motion to disqualify Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise as prosecutor, in part because he made campaign donations to Mosby’s two opponents in the 2018 Democratic primary.

Mosby went on to win that election and has indicated she plans to pursue re-election this year.

The pretrial motions provide a detailed look at what had been a largely secretive investigation into the Mosbys’ taxes before the federal indictment, and the tax problems that preceded that investigation.

The court filings indicate that in 2014, Nick Mosby withdrew funds from his 401k “in response to a family emergency,” but failed to withhold the correct amount in taxes, creating a liability. He did the same thing in 2015, according to an affidavit included with the filings.

Over the following years, Mosby went back and forth with the IRS over the amount owed and repeatedly made payment plans for the amount due.

Nick Mosby claimed that he did not inform his wife of the ongoing tax issues, and that he did not learn of a $45,000 tax lien until a reporter asked about it in October 2020.

“Since it was my tax liability that caused the deficiencies I and I alone dealt with the Internal Revenue Services,” Nick Mosby said in the November 2020 affidavit. “All phone calls, correspondence and agreements with the Internal Revenue Service was with me and not with my wife.”

The filings also claim that Nick Mosby told his wife — incorrectly — that the lien had been paid off in November 2020.

Marilyn Mosby’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, argued in the motions that this lack of communication meant Marilyn Mosby did not know about the lien when she applied for the first mortgage on a Florida property in September 2020, and believed it had been paid off when she applied for the second mortgage on another property in February 2021.

“Neither of the applications disclosed the lien, because State’s Attorney Mosby was not aware that the lien existed at the time either of them were submitted,” Bolden wrote in a letter attached to the pretrial motions. “Further complicating matters, documentation of the lien was not properly served on State’s Attorney Mosby, likely because it occurred contemporaneously with the beginning of COVID-19-related lockdowns.”

Nick Mosby provided the affidavit about his tax troubles in November 2020, after Maryland Bar Counsel requested documents as part of an investigation into Marilyn Mosby’s taxes.

Bolden alleges in the pretrial motions that Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless referred the tax investigation to federal prosecutors after Mosby declined to provide detailed tax records dating back several years.

Lawless declined to comment.

The motions also show that the Department of Justice’s Tax Division considered bringing charges against Marilyn Mosby related to her 2019 and 2020 tax filings, including tax evasion and false statements.

But those charges have not materialized. Bolden wrote in a September 2021 letter to the DOJ that Marilyn Mosby had not yet filed her 2020 taxes and that the alleged loss to the government in 2019 amounted to only $4,000.

Bolden in the letter also noted that Marilyn Mosby considered separating from her husband for “a host of reasons” and changed her tax filing status in 2019 to “married filing separately.”

“Her knowledge of the couple’s pre-2019 taxes was very limited, and her experience with tax filing was equally limited,” Bolden wrote, so Marilyn Mosby relied on the expertise of a tax preparer.

The pretrial motions also show an extensive effort to block the indictment before it was filed. Bolden wrote to U.S. Attorney Erek Barron and to officials with the U.S. Department of Justice in an effort to convince decisionmakers there to halt the investigation into Marilyn Mosby and turn their sights toward their own prosecutors.

Bolden repeatedly accused the lead prosecutor on the case, Wise, of holding a grudge against Marilyn Mosby. He pointed to a dispute between Wise and Marilyn Mosby over an alleged leak from her office about federal investigation into the corrupt Gun Trace Task Force — a disputed claim that Marilyn Mosby argued had never been backed up by any evidence.

In the pretrial motions, Bolden claims the government is engaged in a vindictive prosecution against Marilyn Mosby that should be dismissed because it presents a violation of her due process rights.

The court filings also include an affidavit from a former policy advocate who worked with then-delegate Barron, in which the woman claims Barron made disparaging comments about Marilyn Mosby’s “sex life” and said that he did not understand “all the hype around her.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

Marilyn Mosby also faces two counts of perjury. The indictment alleged that she falsely claimed financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to withdraw money from her retirement account without incurring the usual penalty.

Bolden argued in the pretrial motions that he does not have enough information about what the government is alleging to prepare a defense to those charges.

“Nowhere in the indictment does the government describe why State’s Attorney Mosby did not believe it to be true that she qualified” to make the withdrawals under the CARES Act, Bolden wrote.

A scheduling conference in Mosby’s case is set for Wednesday.