Baltimore Mayor Convicted on Stolen Gift Card Charge
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon was convicted yesterday on a single charge that she stole gift cards intended for the needy.
The AP reports that although the 55-year-old Democratic Baltimore mayor was acquitted of felony theft charges, her misdemeanor conviction could force her from office.
She could lose her $83,000 annual pension, be fined and/or face jail time.
After the trial that began last week, the jury convicted her on one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary. The gift cards were intended for the city's poor.
The conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but prosecutors have not decided whether they will seek jail time.
State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh has said that his investigation of City Hall, which began in March 2006, before Dixon became Baltimore mayor, when she was City Council president, reveals "cozy relations" between Baltimore's elected leaders and developers.
Dixon improperly used or kept $630 worth of gift cards. She was accused of soliciting most of the cards from a wealthy developer and buying electronics at Best Buy, clothes at Old Navy and items at Target.
Despite the cloud of corruption which hangs over Dixon and the administration at City Hall, she remains quite popular.
Sheila Dixon became Baltimore's first African-American woman mayor when she easily won a four-year term in November of 2007.
The now convicted mayor faces a separate trial, scheduled for March, on perjury charges related to her failure to disclose on city ethics forms designer clothing and other lavish gifts from Ronald Lipscomb, a married man and developer whom she formerly dated.
Dixon's critics say her behavior has suggested the Baltimore mayor thinks the rules don't apply to her.
Now, the judge has made it clear the rules not only apply to her but to everyone.