Remorseful when questioned by the defense and combative in response to prosecutors, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby testified on behalf of his ex-wife Marilyn Mosby yesterday, insisting that it was his lies that led to his wife’s allegedly criminal lapses on mortgage documents, not her untruthfulness.
Along with a number of embarrassing assertions – including that the couple’s unopened mail was typically piled up near their front door or left in bags in his closet – the 44-year-old, who is running for re-election as Baltimore’s second highest elected officeholder, returned to this theme, again and again:
“I lied to her throughout the entire time,” Mosby said, declaring that he concealed their debts and a $40,022 IRS tax lien from his then wife because she was so stressed by her high-powered position as Baltimore state’s attorney.
But going further to bolster his point about his rationale for lying, Mosby caused a problem for the defense.
“I knew it would be another burden on her,” he said. “She consistently got death threats. She was consistently a target of investigations by folks that didn’t like her.”
Prosecutors seized on this and other remarks by Mosby to say he was violating an agreement by the parties that there was to be no mention of the other investigations against the defendant conducted by the City Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Justice, the FBI and the Maryland Bar Counsel.
“It’s very clear that the court’s order about keeping investigations out has been violated – the bell has been rung that there’s a lot of investigations,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky said, arguing to U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby that prosecutors should therefore be allowed to ask Mosby about these various probes.
Zelinsky said Mosby’s testimony, elicited at times by Marilyn Mosby’s lawyer, attempted to make it seem like the investigations “were heavy-handed.”
“You mentioned you were interviewed by the FBI on your birthday, would you mind sharing your birthday?” federal public defender James Wyda had coaxed Mosby.
By mentioning other investigations his wife faced and implying they were “heavy-handed,” Mosby violated a judge’s order, prosecutors said.
At another point, Mosby mentioned “Department of Justice federal agents who came into City Hall who asked me to stop my meeting,” which Zelinsky said “was not true – they waited an hour.”
At another point, Mosby complained to Zelinsky that “the fact that we didn’t pay our taxes is why you secretly recorded me,” a remark Griggsby had stricken from the record.
Hours of back-and-forth about the scope of cross-examination ensued (all out of earshot of the jury) with Wyda imploring Griggsby not to punish the defense for Mosby’s “inadvertent word choice.”
But the judge, acknowledging that “an aspersion was cast,” said she would “grant some leeway” to the prosecution, which will resume its cross-examination of Mosby on Monday.
“Are you lying here today?”
The testimony came on the fourth day of Marilyn Mosby’s trial for two counts of mortgage fraud, including charges that she lied on loan applications to buy two luxury vacation properties, one in Kissimmee, Florida, the other near Longboat Key near the Gulf of Mexico.
In November, a jury found her guilty of two counts of perjury, determining she lied about experiencing financial problems related to Covid-19 in order to obtain the money she needed for down payments on the properties. Sentencing in that case is awaiting the outcome of the mortgage fraud charges.
The prosecutors, promising to show Marilyn Mosby knowingly lied on the mortgage documents, put on six witnesses, including an IRS officer who said the couple received about 40 notices about their tax debt.
The defense’s only witness before Nick Mosby, a postal worker who delivered mail at the family’s Bolton Street home, provided brief testimony on Wednesday, after which Griggsby ended the trial for the day early for reasons that were unclear.
When the trial resumed yesterday, Mosby was asked to explain not just the disarray in the family finances, but the arc of his now-ended marriage, prompting him to become emotional at times.
Wyda’s final question for Mosby was why, having testified to lying to his wife repeatedly, could a jury now believe him?
“One, the stakes couldn’t be greater. I’m under oath . . . I’ve done a tremendous amount of damage to my family,” he said. “I want to be completely honest to the jury and to this process.”
Asked if he was lying today, Mosby answered, “I’m not.”
During cross examination, he and Zelinsky sparred repeatedly over such matters as when he became aware of the IRS lien, with Mosby replying to yes-or-no questions with what he said was “context” and asking the judge how to respond to two questions he considered contradictory.
Griggsby advised him repeatedly to answer only the questions asked.
Sparring and Sealed Proceedings
One point of contention was what words Mosby had used in the past to described his wife’s reaction in 2015 after opening a piece of mail that indicated their sizeable tax debt.
“You testified that she yelled at you, is that right?”
“She called me from upstairs, correct.”
“Was she livid?”
“I mean she was unhappy.”
“When you interviewed with the Reed Smith attorneys on August 24, 2022, did you tell them she was livid,” Zelinsky asked, reading from the notes of that interview with Mosby’s previous counsel and showing them to Mosby.
“I don’t recall doing that.”
Griggsby advised both men to “take the temperature down” and not talk over each other.
Zelinsky concluded for the day, but said he will have “a lot more questions” when the trial resumes.
“I don’t think you can address the court, sir. Do we have a deputy in the courtroom?” – Judge Griggsby to a reporter who questioned her actions.
Also possible next week, resolution of an issue that erupted between reporters and Griggsby, who announced she would be sealing the courtroom during a portion of the preliminary discussion about the Nick Mosby cross-examination.
Baltimore Banner reporter Dylan Segelbaum stood up in court to ask Griggsby to give the news organization’s lawyer time to arrive and contest the ejection of the public from the room.
But he barely got the words out before Griggsby cut him off.
“I don’t think you can address the court, sir, so I’m going to ask security to address that. You’re interrupting my proceeding,” she said. “Do we have a deputy in the courtroom?”
The reporter left and the attorney eventually arrived, but not before Griggsby had the public ejected from the room and went ahead with the proceedings.
It remains to be seen whether the Court will be made to release transcripts of what transpired behind closed doors.