The State Prosecutor’s case was paper thin against Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon. Yet, it had enough meat on its bones to convict Mayor Dixon of one misdemeanor count of misappropriation of Best Buy and Target gift cards intended for the poor. The jury found her not guilty of the felony theft counts of the cards and was hung on one count. The 7 day jury deliberations show it was a difficult case to decide. It was by no means a slam dunk for the prosecution. The jury deliberated almost as long as the testimony took. Yet for a paltry $500 Sheila Dixon stands to lose her pension, position as Mayor and be fined, imprisoned or both. Was this the best buy for Mayor Dixon?
Republican State Prosecutor Rohrbaugh’s almost 4 year investigation of Mayor Dixon’s bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements and house search finally yielded a return. But was justice served? No one is above the law including mayors, governors and even presidents. Mayor Dixon is no exception. Yet, the relentless persecution I mean prosecution to take this mayor down seemed more like a political or even personal vendetta. It was truly a fishing expedition that ultimately caught a big fish. In a time when we don’t have to search for wrongdoing among politicians, it seems odd that the state prosecutor had to spend many years on a witch hunt before finally finding something on Sheila Dixon. No one had to search years to find something on Illinois Governor Blagojevich, South Carolina Governor Sanford, ex Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and a host of others. The cost of the investigation, trial and conviction is immeasurable in the millions of dollars spent and in other ways. Baltimore stands to be the loser. Talk about stealing from the poor. No one is really the winner.
But it’s not over till it’s over. I am reminded that Dixon’s lead attorney Arnold Weiner represented another Maryland politician, former Governor Marvin Mandel. After indictment, conviction and jail time served, Mandel’s conviction was overturned.
So was justice served in Mayor Dixon’s case? It just may be too soon to know.