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Judge denies motion to dismiss federal charges against Mosby

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, accompanied by her husband, City Council President Nick Mosby, to her right, outside the federal courthouse prior to Thursday’s hearing. (The Daily Record/Madeleine O’Neill)

A federal judge denied a request from Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to dismiss her federal indictment Thursday, finding that the defense had shown no objective evidence the charges were brought out of personal animus.

U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby ruled from the bench after a lengthy hearing at which Mosby’s lawyer, A. Scott Bolden, tried to turn the spotlight on the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise, and argue that Wise targeted Mosby for prosecution because of a personal grudge.

Griggsby was unimpressed, and she repeatedly emphasized at the hearing that Wise did not appear to have the power to single-handedly bring the indictment against Mosby.

Wise also defended himself during his legal argument before the judge. “I can no more decide to indict someone than I could authorize air strikes into Russia,” he said.

Bolden repeated arguments he’s made in the past at Thursday’s hearing, claiming that Wise developed animus against Mosby in 2018, after a strained meeting over claims that a member of Mosby’s office had leaked news of a federal investigation into the Baltimore Police Department’s corrupt Gun Trace Task Force.

Wise also made small, solicited donations to Mosby’s opponents in the 2018 Democratic primary, the defense has noted. Bolden also claimed that prosecutors refused to allow Mosby to testify before the grand jury — though documents filed in the case indicate that she sought immunity as part of her offer to testify.

“If you look at the totality of the circumstances, there’s a lot going on here,” Bolden said in court. “This isn’t some dispassionate prosecutor.”

But Griggsby noted several times throughout Bolden’s argument that the federal prosecutor’s office is made up of many decisionmakers, not just Wise. She also questioned Wise about his role in the case during his argument and asked whether he has supervisors who must approve his work.

“More than I’d like to describe,” Wise quipped.

Wise also said that prosecution decisions in public corruption cases must go before an indictment review committee made up of senior prosecutors from the both divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.

Griggsby concluded that none of the defense’s claims showed objective evidence of a vindictive prosecution, though she said she accepted the factual allegations as true for the purposes of deciding the motions.

Mosby repeatedly shook her head while Griggsby was announcing the decision. After the hearing, Mosby struck a defiant tone and said that Griggsby’s acceptance of the defense’s claims as true was important for the public to understand.

She reiterated her claim that the prosecution against her is politically motivated and was timed to hurt her chances at reelection this year.

“We did not expect to prevail, however, I look forward to my day in court,” she said outside the federal courthouse.

Bolden said Mosby will continue to fight for her due process rights.

“These facts, while they may not have risen to the level for the judge to dismiss the charges, they’re problematic,” Bolden said.

As she entered the courthouse before the hearing, Mosby was flanked by her husband, City Council President Nick Mosby, and greeted by a small group of supporters who shouted that she is “built for this,” in reference to comments Mosby made soon after being indicted.

The defense’s arguments meant that most of Thursday’s hearing centered on Wise, rather than the case against Mosby.

The indictment alleges that she falsely claimed financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to withdraw money from her city retirement account. She is also accused of failing to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien when she applied for mortgages on two properties in Florida.

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