Ex-prosecutor's defense team can't quit now, prosecutors say

BALTIMORE (AP) — After attorneys for Baltimore’s former top prosecutor Marilyn Mosby asked to stop representing her in an ongoing perjury and mortgage fraud case, federal prosecutors filed a motion Saturday opposing the request.

They said the judge should require five of Mosby’s six defense attorneys remain on the case, which is slated for trial March 27 in Baltimore, because a mass exodus would likely delay the proceedings even further. The trial date has already been pushed back multiple times.

Mosby’s entire defense team tried to quit last week after a series of recent rulings created significant hurdles for them, including the possibility of criminal contempt charges against her lead attorney, A. Scott Bolden.

U.S. District Court Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby ruled last week that Bolden violated several court rules in recent months, including when he used profanity on the courthouse steps, disclosed confidential juror responses and filed a motion without a Maryland law license.

In the request to withdraw, Bolden, along with three other attorneys who work at his firm, said they could no longer represent Mosby because of a conflict, while the remaining two said they didn’t have the time and resources to take over her defense.

Prosecutors didn’t oppose Bolden’s request to step down, but they said his five colleagues failed to show good cause for their removal.

“The Government is confident that the matter would be handled in a more professional and civil matter by any of the other five attorneys that represent the Defendant,” prosecutors wrote in their motion.

Mosby recently left office after serving two high-profile terms as Baltimore state’s attorney. She was defeated in a Democratic primary last year after federal prosecutors accused her of lying about experiencing pandemic-related financial hardship in order to make early withdrawals from her retirement account. She used the money to buy two Florida vacation properties and now faces two counts each of perjury and mortgage fraud.

Prosecutors claimed the existing defense team should be more than capable of continuing to represent Mosby without Bolden’s help.

“In sum, this is not a case involving sophisticated financial transactions, multiple defendants or complex charges,” they wrote. “It is a case of a single defendant lying on four separate occasions about her personal finances in order to buy two houses in Florida.”

Defense attorneys, however, said they recently discussed the matter with the Office of the Federal Public Defender for Maryland, which could represent Mosby moving forward. Typically, public defenders are assigned to people who are unable to afford private counsel.

In 2020, Mosby submitted requests for one-time withdrawals of $40,000 and $50,000, respectively, from Baltimore’s deferred compensation plans, according to her indictment. Prosecutors allege Mosby falsely certified that she experienced financial hardship because of the coronavirus, but she actually received her nearly $250,000 salary in 2020.

Her attorneys have argued that COVID-19 had an impact on both financial markets and Mosby’s personal travel and consulting businesses. They have accused prosecutors of having racial or political motives for pursuing the case, though Griggsby previously rejected their assertion of vindictive prosecution.

Lea Skene, The Associated Press