U.S. investigators examine Dixon's travel

Documents subpoenaed in probe of City Council

May 27, 2004|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

The attorney representing Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon in the federal probe of the council acknowledged in a letter this week that investigators are examining her travel records.

In response to a public information request filed by The Sun, Dixon's attorney, Neal M. Janey, wrote that records "concerning travel undertaken by the City Council President" are not available "until after completion of the federal grand jury investigation."

"If you need access to those records before that time," Janey wrote, "you should contact the United States Attorney."

Janey's letter, dated Monday, indicates that Dixon has provided U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio with more documents than previously known in response to federal subpoenas issued to the council nine months ago.

Dixon's spokeswoman said the president would not comment.

"Per legal counsel, all those questions are to be directed to Neal Janey," said Dixon's spokeswoman, Caprece Jackson-Garrett.

Janey did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.

DiBiagio's office has consistently refused to confirm or deny the investigation. Vickie E. LeDuc, DiBiagio's spokeswoman, did not return a phone call yesterday seeking comment.

DiBiagio launched the investigation into the practices and finances of the entire council with subpoenas for documents issued in September and October, according to copies of subpoenas obtained by The Sun. Earlier this year, DiBiagio broadened his probe by issuing subpoenas to several minority developers for information detailing their dealings with Dixon and three former city officials.

DiBiagio also has subpoenaed most of the council members to testify before the grand jury this month and next, a process that was supposed to begin two weeks ago. The first two scheduled days of testimony, however, had been postponed, said sources familiar with the investigation. A grand jury was in session yesterday, but it was unclear whether any council members testified.

When asked whether he testified yesterday, Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young repeatedly stated, "No comment."

Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector said she could not comment, either. "I have been told that until the investigation is over, it's not in our best interest to discuss it," Spector said.

It is unclear whether the entire council has been subpoenaed to testify. Jackson-Garrett said this month that Dixon was not subpoenaed to testify, but she declined yesterday to say whether that had changed.

The initial subpoenas to council members required them to produce documents detailing any gifts, loans or outside income they received in the past five years. Federal investigators also requested information on council members' hiring practices, office budgets, expense accounts and relations with two local businessmen -- banker Edwin F. Hale Sr. and Arrow Parking owner Benjamin Greenwald.

Andrew C. White, a former federal prosecutor and defense attorney specializing in white-collar crimes, said prosecutors may be looking for a link between Dixon's travel and any gifts provided to her by any of the developers subpoenaed by DiBiagio earlier this year.

Those subpoenas were issued to at least two developers, Brian D. Morris and Ronald H. Lipscomb, and asked for records reflecting any income, loans or grants they received from the city and any gifts they gave Dixon and other city officials, sources said.

"Travel records might indicate if a developer had given a politician use of a condo or use of an apartment at a resort," said White, who is not involved in the investigation.

If DiBiagio can prove that the gift garnered influence with a lawmaker, White said, he could prosecute using the same public corruption law DiBiagio has used to prosecute other officials.

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