Marilyn Mosby planned to start a travel business in 2020, says the witness

Marilyn Mosby, with her husband, Nick Mosby, and her attorneys left outside the courthouse after a September 2022 hearing where a federal judge ordered her trial postponed. (The Daily Record /Madeleine O’Neill)

Former Baltimore City Attorney Marilyn Mosby claims she planned to start her own travel company for black professionals while she was still the city’s top attorney, but abandoned those plans in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the travel industry, new court documents say .

Whether the claim is true could be key to Mosby’s upcoming federal trial on perjury and mortgage fraud charges.

Federal prosecutors say the claim is an attempt by Mosby to sneak in testimony without taking the stand. But Mosby’s defense team appears poised to argue that the business failure was a pandemic-related failure that qualified Mosby for early withdrawals from his retirement account under the CARES Act.

Mosby is accused of lying about pandemic-related hardships in order to withdraw money she put down on two Florida vacation homes.

According to new court documents, Mosby told a defense expert that she planned to hold a launch event for her travel business, Mahogany Elite Enterprises, in 2020 — although later that year, after the pandemic caused widespread work stoppages, Mosby said she did not plan to run the business while was a state attorney.

Mosby’s lawsuit appears among a trove of documents filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Two of Mosby’s motions were filed under seal, a practice that has become customary for the defense team since Mosby’s January 2022 indictment.

Those that are public indicate that another protracted battle over expert witnesses is likely to be fought before Mosby’s trial.

Disagreements over expert witnesses had previously delayed Mosby’s trial, which was postponed twice. Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin March 23, although Mosby also requested the trial be moved to Greenbelt for pretrial publicity.

U.S. District Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby will consider a number of motions, including a request for a change of venue, at a Jan. 17 hearing.

The indictment against Mosby also alleges she failed to disclose a $45,000 IRS lien, lied about the source of a $5,000 “gift” from her husband and made other false statements when she applied for mortgages on two Florida vacation homes.

Both the defense and the prosecution have proposed expert witnesses who can testify about Mosby’s finances and the mortgage approval process. Both sides say that the other’s witnesses should be barred from testifying.

One of the government’s proposed witnesses, certified public accountant Joshua A. Johnston, will testify that Mosby did not suffer a financial loss that qualified her to withdraw money from her retirement account under the CARES Act.

“Mrs. Mosby’s use of proceeds from her (coronavirus-related distributions) to fund new real estate investments in Florida provides strong evidence that she has not experienced the current revenue shortfall that the CARES Act sought to address,” Johnston wrote in a summary of his findings. .

Johnston will also testify that one of Mosby’s expert witnesses, Jerome Schmitt, violated professional standards when he concluded that Mosby had indeed suffered a pandemic-related loss.

Schmitt is a defense expert who says Mosby told him about her plan to launch Mahogany Elite in 2020. Prosecutors want those discussions to be disqualified as hearsay so that Schmitt cannot testify about them.

Mosby’s dealings have been a source of questions since the Baltimore Brew reported their existence in July 2020. Baltimore’s inspector general investigated the business and Mosby’s extensive travels at Mosby’s request. The report that followed in early 2021 largely exonerated her.

The investigation “found no evidence of revenue or income associated with Mosby’s SA companies since their inception,” but reported that Mosby spent more than $7,000 on the business in 2019.

Mosby’s defense team also asked that prosecutors be sanctioned for failing to turn them over Brady material or evidence that could be helpful to the defense.

Mosby’s attorneys also face possible sanctions for including confidential information from juror questionnaires in a previous court filing. Griggsby will weigh that issue next week, along with the government’s request for an injunction barring Mosby’s lawyers from speaking to the media.

Mosby is no longer Baltimore’s attorney general. Ivan Bates, a former prosecutor and defense attorney, defeated her in a three-way Democratic primary for the seat in July and took office last week.

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