Prosecutors: Receipts prove Md. mayor stole gifts

AP News
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 4:42 PM

Store receipts prove Mayor Sheila Dixon used gift cards for the needy during personal shopping sprees, prosecutors said Thursday, though defense attorneys argued they were intended for her use.

Prosecutors showed slides of the receipts to jurors in opening statements.

Defense attorneys said Dixon's ex-boyfriend, developer Ronald Lipscomb, had anonymously given her gift cards for her to use as she pleased. Developer Patrick Turner also donated gift cards, and Dixon confused those with the cards given by Lipscomb, defense attorney Arnold Weiner said.

That means there is no evidence she intentionally stole gift cards meant for needy families _ which prosecutors must prove to convict her, Weiner said.

"She never knew they came from him, she thought they were Mr. Lipscomb's," Weiner told jurors.

Dixon, who would automatically be removed from office if convicted, sat quietly dressed in a dark suit during the proceedings, occasionally taking notes or highlighting documents with a pink marker.

Turner and Lipscomb have been identified as potential witnesses. Earlier Thursday, the judge ruled prosecutors may not use evidence related to a third batch of gift cards. Prosecutors wanted a third developer, Glenn Charlow, to testify, but defense attorneys argued that evidence came too late for them to prepare.

State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh held gift cards and long receipts in his hand as he presented his opening statements, showing jurors slides of the receipts in the courtroom.

Rohrbaugh said the receipts show the cards were used along with a reward card under Dixon's name that gave points for frequent shoppers. Rohrbaugh said other cards were used by Dixon's daughter and others she knew _ "not needy people who were intended to receive them."

A raid of Dixon's home later turned up some of the items listen on the receipts, including a video camera and a DVD entitled "Four Brothers" that was never watched because "it wasn't even opened," the prosecutor said.