Will jurors be persuaded that former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was simply a real estate “novice, a rookie” and a busy working mom who “trusted her husband to address their taxes?”
That was the angle the defense team leaned on heavily in today’s opening statement, as Mosby faces federal charges she lied on mortgage documents to buy two Florida properties, failing in the process to disclose a $45,022 IRS lien on the house she and ex-husband Nick Mosby own in Baltimore.
“She had tremendous professional responsibility every hour of the day. She was also a wife and a mother of two daughters with steady daily demands on her from every angle,” said assistant public defender Sedira Banan.
Mosby’s defense is expected to argue she knew nothing about the tax lien, never purchased real estate before and was not named on the deed to the Baltimore home she had shared with her ex-husband.
“The government will reduce this case to documents, tax documents and letters,” Banan told the jury. “They will ignore and disregard context and relationships and trust.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Delaney today depicted a very different Marilyn Mosby.
“A smart, sophisticated lawyer who decided it was a good time to invest in real estate,” Delaney said. “The defendant – a lawyer and a public servant, Baltimore’s top prosecutor – lied repeatedly.”
Following last week’s jury selection, today was the opening day of a trial that is expected to last a week or more. If that happens, it will be in contrast to Mosby’s previous trial in November, a three-day proceeding that resulted in a guilty verdict on two felony counts of perjury.
Mosby was convicted of lying about having a Covid-related hardship in order to withdraw $90,000 from a retirement account – money she used for the down payments on an eight-bedroom house near Disney World and a condominium on the Gulf of Mexico.
Sentencing in that case was delayed pending the outcome of today’s case.
While the first trial focused on money that Mosby didn’t have, the mortgage fraud charges are about “the money she owed,” Delaney said.
The two-term ex-prosecutor was well aware that she was untruthful when she failed to mention on mortgage documents that she was delinquent on federal taxes, Delaney said.
“The [IRS] letter wasn’t sent to her husband, the letter was sent to her” – Sean Delaney, Assistant U.S. Attorney.
One piece of evidence prosecutors plan to present to make their case is testimony showing that in 2020, Mosby filed a tax return separate from her husband.
That meant she herself received notice from the Internal Revenue Service that it was rolling her more than $500 refund over and allocating it toward the couple’s tax debt dating back to 2014.
“The letter wasn’t sent to her husband, ladies and gentlemen, the letter was sent to her.”
“The evidence will show that the defendant and her husband received year after year of notice from the IRS, moving in and out of installment plans” to get them to gradually pay the money owed, but failing to do so, Delaney said.
“She was a nightmare”
The prosecution’s first witness, IRS Supervisory Officer Matthew Lopes, testified about his review of her IRS account history.
He estimated that the IRS sent Mosby and her husband about 40 notices – mailed separately to each of them – about their tax delinquency, including notices warning them they faced the possible seizure of their personal property and other assets.
He acknowledged on cross examination that the IRS does not have copies of all the letters.
Another witness was Andrew Booth, president of Executive Villas Florida, who testified that Mosby signed a contract in 2020 for his property management company to manage her Kissimmee, Florida, property as a rental.
That contract is central to the other criminal charge Mosby faces. After signing the agreement with Executive Villas, prosecutors say, Mosby signed a document in her mortgage application certifying that she would “maintain exclusive control” over the property.
“Mosby was impossible to deal with” – Property Manager Andrew Booth.
Mosby is charged with lying in order to obtain a “second home rider,” which allowed her to obtain a lower interest rate on the mortgage.
According to Booth, the company terminated its agreement with her in 2021. “Mosby was impossible to deal with. She was a nightmare,” he stated.
The trial continues tomorrow in Greenbelt. The case originated in Baltimore, but U.S. Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby ordered that it and the previous perjury trial be moved to Maryland’s other federal courthouse at Mosby’s request.
Both Mosby and her ex-husband are on a list of defense witnesses who may testify in the case.
It is unclear at this point if either will do so.