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Mosby defense team wants federal prosecutor to testify at evidentiary hearing

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. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The defense lawyers for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby want the lead federal prosecutor on her criminal case disqualified, but short of that, they want an evidentiary hearing at which the prosecutor would have to answer questions about his alleged personal animus toward Mosby.

Such a hearing, and the requirement that a prosecutor testify in order to remain on a case, would be highly unusual.

Mosby’s lawyer, A. Scott Bolden, argued in a new filing Friday that a hearing and additional discovery may be necessary to determine whether the case against Mosby is based on personal hostility rather than legitimate prosecution objectives.

“That animus has tainted this prosecution from the start,” Bolden wrote.

The evidence, he wrote, makes it clear that “the government was engaged in a years-long ‘fishing expedition’ to find any possible charge against State’s Attorney Mosby that it could.”

Bolden’s claims echo those made in earlier filings, when the defense asked U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby to dismiss the indictment and take the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise, from the case.

In its reply, the government claimed that Mosby had invented a “tale of victimhood” to deflect from her criminal charges.

“The Defendant’s motion finds no support in the facts, the law, or even logic and should be denied as meritless,” the prosecutors wrote. “Name calling is not facts and that is all the Defendant offers.”

Mosby faces two counts each of perjury and making false statements on loan applications.

Her team has argued repeatedly that Wise and other members of the prosecution team targeted Mosby because of her politics and her race. Wise, the defense noted, donated small amounts to each of Mosby’s opponents in the 2018 Democratic primary.

Wise responded that those donations were solicited by professional acquaintances, and were not intended to affect the outcome of the election. But in Friday’s filing, Bolden argued that the donations showed a larger pattern of animus against Mosby.

Lawyers for Marilyn Mosby have asked a judge to remove federal prosecutor Leo Wise, right, from her case. Failing that, they want Wise to testify at an evidentiary hearing. (AP Photo/David McFadden)

The donations also came just days after Mosby and Wise had an acrimonious meeting about allegations that a member of the State’s Attorney’s Office had leaked information about a federal investigation into corrupt members of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force, Bolden wrote.

Wise did not have documents about the alleged tip-off when Mosby pressed for that information at the meeting, Bolden wrote.

“The fact remains that the lead prosecutor against State’s Attorney Mosby, the person attempting to take away her freedom and derail her career, donated to her two political opponents, in a three candidate race, and not to her campaign, after she embarrassed him in front of his boss,” Bolden wrote.

The defense is also arguing that the unique nature of the charges against Mosby is further evidence of animus. Mosby is accused of falsely claiming she suffered a financial hardship during COVID-19 in order to withdraw money from her retirement account without incurring a penalty.

Bolden claimed the defense is not aware of any similar prosecutions in the nation.

“That is the very definition of a prosecution that singles out an individual,” he wrote.

Friday’s motion also asks for additional information about the charges against Mosby, which include allegations that she failed to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien when she applied for mortgages on two properties in Florida.

In a superseding indictment, prosecutors also alleged that Mosby falsely claimed she had been staying in Florida for 70 days and, in order to lock in a lower interest rate, claimed that her husband would give her a gift of $5,000 toward a down payment on one of the Florida properties. In fact, the indictment charges, Mosby transferred that money to her husband, who then provided it to the escrow agent.

Bolden in his response claims that Mosby did not claim she alone had spent 70 days in Florida, but wrote that she and her family had stayed at the home in Kissimmee, Florida for that period of time.

Mosby has hedged about her plans to run for reelection this year. If she joins the race, she will face the same opponents as in 2018  — Thiru Vignarajah and Ivan Bates.