(Reuters) - Baltimore's top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, said on Friday she was innocent of wrongdoing, a day after she was indicted on federal charges of perjury and filing false loan applications related to the purchase of two Florida vacation homes.
Mosby, elected state's attorney in 2015, said she was the victim of a "ploy" by political adversaries seeking to unseat her and was determined to "fight with every ounce in my being and to clear my name."
"I’m here before you today to state unequivocally that I am innocent," she said in a 10-minute statement delivered to reporters as she choked back tears. She took no questions at the end.
Mosby, 41, is accused of falsely claiming twice to have suffered a work-related financial hardship from COVID-19 in order to request two early withdrawals totaling $90,000 from her city employee retirement account.
Prosecutors said Mosby used the money she received - $36,000 in May 2020 and $45,000 on Dec. 31 of that year - toward down payments on vacation homes in Kissimmee and Long Boat Key.
The two counts of perjury stem from Mosby's allegedly false statements of coronavirus-related financial duress at a time when she was earning a gross annual salary of nearly $248,000 in full, the indictment asserts.
She is also charged with two counts of making false statements on mortgage applications seeking a total of more than $900,000 in loans to buy the Florida properties. The indictment says Mosby failed to disclose federal tax delinquencies resulting in a $45,000 lien imposed by the Internal Revenue Service in 2020.
Mosby denied both sets of allegations, saying, "I did not defraud anyone to take my money from my retirement savings, and I did not lie on any mortgage application."
Baltimore television station WBAL-TV cited Mosby's attorney, A. Scott Bolden, as saying in a media interview that his client had other business interests, including a travel company affected by the pandemic, and that she had consulted with financial advisers before making the mortgage application.
According to Mosby, prosecutors refused her offer to personally present evidence on her own behalf to the grand jury that ultimately indicted her.
Mosby said political opponents "have had a target on my back" since she made national headlines in 2015 by filing criminal charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a young Black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury while being transported in the back of a police van. None of the six officers charged in his death was convicted.
Mosby ran for office as a part of a movement of "progressive prosecutors" promising to address systemic racism in the U.S. criminal justice system.
U.S. Attorney Erek Barron, a former state delegate who was nominated to his post by President Joe Biden, has declined to comment on the case, according to the independent, nonpartisan news site Maryland Matters.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by William Mallard)