Baltimore, MD – In a case that has rocked Baltimore, Mayor Sheila Dixon was charged Friday with 12 counts of felony theft, perjury, fraud and misconduct in office, becoming the citys first sitting mayor to be criminally indicted.
Dixon is accused of failing to disclose at least $15,348 in gifts that she received from her former boyfriend, city developer Ronald H. Lipscomb, while she was city council president. She is also accused of stealing $3,400 in gift cards that developers donated to her office to be distributed to needy families. The crimes allegedly occurred between 2004 and 2006, while she was a member of the city council.
Besides the $15,348 in gifts, The Baltimore Sun reports that Lipscomb allegedly gave Dixon a $2,000 gift certificate to a local furrier, plane fare to Chicago and a stay at the Trump International Hotel in New York City when she was still a member of the city council, according to the indictment. Lipscomb owns Doracon Contracting, who was awarded millions of dollars in city tax breaks about the time he was allegedly giving gifts to the council president.
Lipscombs name has long been connected with the probe as well as an earlier federal investigation. He dated Dixon when she was City Council president in late 2003 and early 2004. Other projects he has worked on have received millions of dollars in city tax breaks.
Dixon is also charged with soliciting gift cards to Target, Best Buy, Old Navy and Circuit City from 2004 to 2006 from two developers. It is alleged that she then used some of the cards to purchase electronic games and other items she either kept or gave to staff members as Christmas presents according to the indictment.
Lipscomb was not indicted in the Dixon case, but he and City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton were charged this week in a separate $12,500 bribery scheme. According to the Baltimore Sun, both cases grew out of a nearly three-year probe by the state prosecutor into city hall corruption.
At a news conference Friday at her attorneys office, Dixon said she was innocent.
I will not let these charges deter me from keeping Baltimore on the path that we have set, or from carrying forward the significant progress we have made thus far, she said, reading a prepared statement. 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.
If convicted of all charges, the 55-year-old former teacher and mother of two could be sentenced to 85 years in prison. The most serious charges, two counts of felony theft, each carry a possible 15-year prison term.