Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby denies allegations outlined in a federal indictment Friday.
CNN  — 

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby once said city prosecutors had “the toughest job in America,” a job made increasingly difficult when delivering justice means overhauling a system many feel is broken.

Since taking the helm at the city prosecutor’s office in 2015, just months before Freddie Gray died from spinal injuries he suffered in the back of a police van, Mosby has preached reform while hopping from one firestorm to the next, it seems. Now, amid her second reelection campaign and months before the June primary, she faces criminal charges her attorney says are politically and racially driven.

A federal grand jury indicted Baltimore’s top prosecutor this week on two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications for two Florida vacation homes, according to court documents. Mosby, the indictment alleges, applied for loans against her retirement account, allegedly tapping a CARES Act provision for those hurt financially by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mosby indicated she had suffered “adverse financial consequences,” despite her quarter-million-dollar 2020 salary, and failed to disclose she owed $45,000 in federal back taxes, according to the indictment. She also allegedly said she would be the primary resident at one of the homes in order to secure a lower rate when she had already entered into an agreement with a rental management firm, the indictment says. She sold one of the homes for a $150,000 profit, The Baltimore Sun reported.

A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office and Mosby’s attorney did not immediately respond to an interview request. The spokeswoman sent a statement to CNN affiliate WBAL saying prosecutors “will not be distracted or sidetracked from our mission to make Baltimore a safer community.”

Attorney A. Scott Bolden issued a statement calling the charges “bogus” and his client innocent. Mosby never lied in relation to the allegations, the statement said, and the US Attorney’s Office for Maryland refused requests to meet with Bolden’s team and to inform Bolden if “evidence of Ms. Mosby’s innocence that we provided … was ever presented to the grand jury.”

The statement further accused the federal prosecutor of conspiring with the Justice Department’s tax division to “wrongfully indict” his client, and alleged federal law enforcement offices were interested only in “bringing false charges against my client – at all or any costs.” The charges “are rooted in personal, political and racial animus five months from her election,” Bolden wrote.

US Attorney Erek Barron, who like Mosby is African American, declined to comment, saying through a spokeswoman the indictment speaks for itself.

In a Friday afternoon news conference, Mosby declined to take questions, saying Bolden would address the media later, but she insisted she’s being targeted politically and vowed to fight as she’s done throughout her tenure.

Freddie Gray threw Mosby into the spotlight

Before becoming state’s attorney, Mosby graduated from Tuskegee University and Boston College Law School. During her studies at the latter, the Boston native worked in her hometown Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and in two US attorneys’ offices.

After graduation, she prosecuted felonies in the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office from 2006 to 2011 before entering the corporate realm as a civil litigator. In the summer of 2013, she decided to run for the Baltimore state’s attorney post. She won and took office in January 2015.

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Police respond to video showing Gray's arrest
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On April 12, 2015, Gray was arrested, and video showing the 25-year-old screaming as officers dragged him to a police van sparked questions. Outrage ensued when Gray died a week later. The city was consumed with protests, some of which were hijacked by looters and rioters.

Enter Mosby, who was hailed as a hero and inspiration when, less than two weeks after Gray was killed, she charged six Baltimore police officers with misconduct along with assault, manslaughter or murder counts in the young man’s death.

The glow quickly faded. As the police union accused her of rushing to judgment and the charged officers asked a court to remove her from the case because of alleged conflicts of interest, which she denied, she appeared on stage at a Prince concert.

She did not offer remarks, but critics questioned the propriety of appearing at the Rally4Peace, a concert held in response to Baltimore’s unrest, in which attendees were urged to wear gray, as the now-deceased rock icon himself wore.

Even attorney Laura Coates, now a CNN legal analyst, who had initially applauded Mosby, tweeted “Tsk tsk” following the Prince appearance and noted Mosby was facing allegations of conflicts of interest and charging officers as a publicity stunt.

“Think b4 u act,” Coates tweeted.

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While Gray’s death served as a rallying point for those decrying police brutality, none of the officers was convicted, despite the city paying Gray’s family $6.4 million. Three were tried and acquitted, prompting Mosby to drop charges against the remaining three because of the “dismal likelihood” they’d be convicted.

Within weeks, five of the officers sued Mosby, alleging false arrest, defamation and other misdeeds. A federal appeals court ruled Mosby had immunity, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal, WBAL reported.

Police reform remained a top priority

Despite her “agonizing” decision to drop charges in the Gray killing, Mosby continued working to stamp out “entrenched police corruption” in the city of 586,000, she said. In an interview last year, she boasted that, despite the officers’ acquittals and vacated charges, “every single police officer is now being held accountable for the actions of a few.”

Following a federal probe that found the Baltimore Police Department had engaged in a pattern of excessive force, racially biased arrests and other constitutional violations, the department underwent a “total makeover,” Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said last year.

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That included a “robust” use-of-force policy, emphasis on de-escalation and sanctity of life and revised policies on traffic stops, searches and arrests, along with other approaches aimed at improving community policing, he said. Officers were using less force and facing fewer complaints, and many agencies regarded BPD as a model, Harrison said, adding the city was “turning the corner” but had a long way to go.

Authorities would find themselves more frequently in prosecutors’ crosshairs over the ensuing years:

• July 2017: After body camera footage showed an officer planting evidence, Mosby’s office announced a review of about 100 cases investigated by three officers. Her office later dismissed 34 of the cases.

• December 2017: A public defender said the arrests of eight Baltimore officers on racketeering charges cast into doubt the integrity of more than 2,000 criminal cases. Mosby said a comprehensive review of the cases was integral to restoring public trust.

• October 2019: Several months after Mosby said she would no longer prosecute marijuana possession, she announced almost 800 cases – involving 25 officers suspected of corruption – would be thrown out.

• November 2019: Mosby was part of a successful effort to release three men wrongfully convicted in a 1983 murder and denounced the “intentional concealment and misrepresentation of the exculpatory evidence” in the case.

• December 2019: Mosby announced indictments against 25 city corrections officers on allegations of excessive force and intimidating inmates, saying, “If you break the law and you break the trust the public has placed within you, you will face the consequences.”

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Baltimore cops accused of planting evidence ... again
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• In March, she took her stance on marijuana possession a step further, announcing her office would no longer prosecute any drug possession. Her office would also decline to prosecute prostitution and other low-level offenses, she said.

• In July, her office secured indictments against two Baltimore officers accused of assaulting and threatening to kill a teenager during a car theft investigation.

• In November, a judge granted her office’s request to vacate a conviction against David Morris, who spent 17 years in prison for murder. Alleging police and prosecutorial misconduct in the case, Mosby heralded the decision, saying, “This case exemplifies the deeply damaging nature of the historical failures of the criminal justice system and our duty as prosecutors to address the wrongs of the past.”

‘I have had a target on my back’

In her Friday news conference, Mosby drew links between the federal charges and her work to “bridge the divide between the criminal justice system and the communities that we are trusted to serve.”

At times speaking over the din of city traffic, she told reporters that she has sought only to make communities safer while improving the justice system. She expected the job would be hard, she said, but she did not expect the personal attacks, nor did she expect to be mocked and ridiculed, she said.

“I also need citizens, who I am blessed to serve, to know that I am innocent of the charges that have been (leveled) against me, and I intend to fight with every ounce of energy within my being to prove my innocence,” she said.

She cited sacrifices she made, including missing her two daughters’ games and recitals, fending off investigations and having to “incessantly fight” to keep her law license. She’s spent a half-million dollars defending herself against “frivolous attacks,” she said.

Mosby’s also received hate mail and death threats, she said, and the media has compromised her daughters’ safety. She now requires 24-hour security, she said.

Meanwhile, she has been forced to battle powerful institutions, the prosecutor said, pointing to a laundry list of enemies that includes the US attorney’s office, the Fraternal Order of Police, right-wing media, Gov. Larry Hogan and former President Donald Trump.

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Mosby: I understand the sacrifice police officers make
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Since the Gray case, “I have had a target on my back, and I get it,” she said.

Touting her record, she says she’s fought for a uniform standard of justice for all Baltimore residents, prosecuted police for violating rights, sought to “end the war on drug users and people of color,” decriminalized drug possession and sex work, demanded second chances for incarcerated lifers and helped exonerate Black men who the “justice system wanted to rot in prison.”

“I get it,” she said. “This is not what prosecutors usually do and many people will forever hate me for it.”

While debating ideology is democracy at work, she said, the charges against her are the product of “unreasonable and unyielding, abusive attacks, investigation and prosecution.”

She did not defraud anyone and did not lie on a mortgage application, she said, reiterating her attorney’s assertion that she offered to provide exculpatory information to federal prosecutors.

“Please don’t be fooled. We are now five months from our next election and this indictment is merely a political ploy by my political adversaries to unseat me,” Mosby told reporters. “Please also understand that I will never let that happen without a fight.”

CNN’s Laura Dolan, Ray Sanchez, Laura Studley, Mallika Kallingal, Emma Tucker and Jean Casarez contributed to this report.