Former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was convicted on Thursday in two cases of perjury for allegedly making false claims about her finances to withdraw money from her city service retirement account, designed to assist financially struggling people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mosby, who served as the top prosecutor in Baltimore, was accused of falsely claiming financial hardship to withdraw $90,000 from the retirement fund, which she later used to purchase two homes in Florida.
Mosby has denied wrongdoing, stating that she did not deceive anyone. After arguments from her defense attorneys that a fair jury would not be possible in the city where Mosby was a controversial prosecutor, her cases were transferred from Baltimore to Greenbelt. Mosby gained national prominence in 2015 for charging six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, a Black man whose death in police custody sparked protests. Mosby was unsuccessful in securing convictions for any of the six officers.
In the closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky emphasized to the jury that “telling the truth and taking an oath matters.” Zelinsky stated, “We cannot allow Ms. Mosby to lie under oath without consequences.”
Mosby’s defense attorney, federal public defender James Wyda, argued that Mosby had started a travel business in 2019 when the Maryland state attorney’s office was devastated by the pandemic, and she had obtained the relief funds properly by completing the necessary paperwork.
Wyda said, “This case is about three pages of a form and what was in Marilyn Mosby’s mind when she filled it out.” “She was eligible, and she rightfully believed she was eligible.”
After the verdict was announced, Mosby made no comments outside the court other than saying, “I’m thankful. I’m thankful. I have nothing to say.” Her defense attorney and a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland declined to comment after the trial.
This examination centered around Mosby’s travel business, Mahogany Elite Travel, on a large scale.
Prosecutors argued that Mahogany Elite was likely not a legitimate business, with no customers, no revenue, and no records associated with organizing trips.
According to prosecutors, when Mosby was the state’s attorney, she did not disclose her ownership of the enterprise in her 2020 financial disclosure form. In the same year, prosecutors said that Mosby’s spokesperson told a news outlet, Baltimore Brew, that Mahogany Elite would not operate until she remained in office.
Prosecutors emphasized to the jury that if the business was not operating or generating income, it could not have suffered from the pandemic’s impact. Lead prosecutor Sean Delaney told the jury, “I have a math problem for you. What is zero minus zero minus zero? Zero.”
Maryland’s chief federal public defender, Wade Varda, told the jury that the pandemic’s impact on Mahogany Elite was best seen in the context of how young the enterprise was and which federal relief program rules were applied.
He said that Mosby and a friend took a transformative and eye-opening trip in 2019. Varda told the jury, “They talked about making money from that trip – brainstorming about how to present a retreat for professional women of color who needed a break.”
According to Varda, as soon as Mosby returned home in April 2019, she got to work establishing the business – paying $459 in filing and website fees. He said she started the trip to research potential locations. Varda said, “Marilyn Mosby was invested in her travel business.”
Then came March 2020.
“For Mrs. Mosby, the pandemic meant the shattering of her dream,” Varda said. “COVID-19 devastated her business.”
Jury members weighed the various iterations of Mahogany Elite because they were considering Mosby’s efforts starting in May 2020 to utilize the newly enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Known as the CARES Act, it allows people to tap into the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act if they experience adverse financial consequences due to the closing or reduction of hours of your owned or operated business as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 between. The act allows individuals to hold tapings at Servicemembers Holdings if they have experienced adverse financial results between closing or reducing hours of your owned or operated business due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. Financial consequences may be attributed to COVID-19 among other reasons.
According to trial testimony, on May 26, 2020, Mosby filled out a form where, under penalty of perjury, she attested to the adverse financial effects caused by the coronavirus.
According to Vaida, she requested $40,000 from the Relief Fund, and after taxes were deducted, she received $36,000. Around the same time, Mosby also started purchasing homes in Florida – using a portion of the $36,000 from the down payment on a property in Kissimmee. Later, she received a $50,000 relief fund for another home’s down payment in Florida.
Under the rules of the CARES Act, Vaida told the jury that adverse financial consequences could be small, people can use the Relief Fund for up to $100,000, and there are no restrictions on how it can be spent.
Vaida told the jury, “Maybe you don’t like it.” “She’s trying to make a good investment. But Mrs. Mosby did what the CARES Act allowed her to do.”
But prosecutors emphasized that Mahogany Elite never showed any signs of being an active enterprise. According to Zerolnick, there is no record from the company in a subpoena for records—no business cards, no letterhead, and no record of communication with vendors or potential customers.
“No note, nothing,” he said. “Mahogany Elite was not a legitimate and operational business.”
He also noted that at various times, Mosby described the venture differently. In 2020, when Baltimore Brew inquired about it, a spokesperson for Mosby described it as a “long-term venture…” to assist struggling Black families who typically lack the opportunity to travel outside urban areas.
Prosecutors argued that the shifting and vague descriptions indicated that Mahogany Elite was not functioning as a business and that Mosby dishonestly referenced it to justify tapping into the Relief Fund.