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Baltimore mayor convicted on fraud charge

By Associated Press
December 2, 2009

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BALTIMORE - Baltimore’s mayor was convicted yesterday on a single charge she took gift cards intended for the city’s poor. Although Sheila Dixon was acquitted of felony theft charges, her misdemeanor conviction could force her from office.

Jurors deliberated more than six days after hearing accusations that the Democrat improperly used or kept $630 worth of gift cards. She was accused of soliciting most of the cards from a developer and buying electronics at Best Buy, clothes at Old Navy, and knickknacks at Target.

The jury convicted her on one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and acquitted her on two counts of felony theft and one count of misconduct in office. Jurors failed to reach a verdict on another count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.

The conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but prosecutors have not decided whether they will seek jail time. They also haven’t decided whether to seek a retrial on the undecided charge.

Prosecutors painted a picture of a corrupt official going on shopping sprees and described a collection of electronics found during a raid of her home, including an Xbox, a PlayStation 2, and a video camera.

Dixon’s lawyers blamed the case on developer Ronald Lipscomb, a married man who they said lavished her with gifts, including gift cards sent anonymously. Dixon thought gift cards delivered anonymously by another developer also came from Lipscomb, the defense argued.