Mayor of Baltimore charged with perjury, corruption

Move over, Kwame Kilpatrick — you’ve got company among disgraced big-city mayors.  Sheila Dixon got indicted today on twelve felony counts, including perjury, theft, and misconduct in office.  Maryland state prosecutors accused the Baltimore Democrat of a particularly heinous theft of donated gift cards intended for the poor:

Mayor Sheila Dixon was indicted Friday on charges that she accepted illegal gifts during her time as mayor and City Council president, including travel, fur coats and gift cards intended for the poor that she allegedly used instead for a holiday shopping spree.

A grand jury indicted Dixon on 12 counts, including four counts of perjury and two counts of theft over $500. She was also charged with theft under $500, fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and misconduct in office.

The State Prosecutor’s Office, which has been investigating corruption at City Hall for nearly three years, said Dixon received holiday gift cards for four years from several people. Prosecutors said the gift cards were to be distributed to needy families, but were instead used by Dixon to buy electronics _ including an Xbox, a PlayStation 2 and a camcorder _ clothes and other merchandise and also handed out to members of her staff.

Most of the charges involve her relationship with a developer, Ronald Lipscomb, and her acceptance of thousands of dollars in gifts without disclosing them on her records.  She allegedly used a city employee to launder $4,000 from Lipscomb to fund a shopping spree.  Dixon and Lipscomb conducted an affair with each other while married to others, and at the same time, Lipscomb’s company did business with the city, receiving tax breaks from Baltimore for some of their projects.

The worst allegations involve the gift cards.  Dixon allegedly received several of these cards, which were given to her to pass along to needy people.  Instead, Dixon allegedly decided that charity begins at home and used them as gifts for friends and family, or for herself.  When her home was searched, several of the cards were found still unused by Dixon, given to her by Lipscomb, who apparently designated them as a charitable donation. Another developer gave her 20 such Best Buy cards, worth $25 each, and Dixon used 19 of them for herself.

Dixon never mentioned the gift cards on her disclosure statements.  Since those get signed under oath, her signatures on those forms with the omissions of the cards would amount to perjury.  That would almost certainly bring serious prison time, if Dixon gets convicted — and it’s hard to imagine that she will get much sympathy from a jury after stealing gift cards from the poor.

For Name That Party aficianados, the Washington Post does indeed mention that Dixon is a Democrat, in the sixth paragraph of the story.