Dixon decries state inquiry

Claims Utech probe, media unfairly damage her reputation

December 21, 2006|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,Sun reporter

Dixon delivered an impassioned plea yesterday — City Council President Sheila Dixon said yesterday that a state investigation into government contracts related to her office has unfairly sullied her reputation and that the probe's lone indictment proves she is "innocent."

Dixon delivered an impassioned plea yesterday -- at one point quoting an Old Testament passage -- asking prosecutors to exonerate her. She also asked the news media to stop portraying her as being corruptly associated with Mildred E. Boyer, the minority subcontractor a city grand jury indicted Tuesday on charges of theft, lying on loan documents and filing false tax returns.

Boyer's company, Utech, employed Dixon's sister for more than two years before The Sun revealed in February that the council president had participated in hearings and votes that benefited the firm without disclosing that her sibling worked there.

The city's ethics law prohibits public officials from participating in "any matter" that involves a sibling's interest or the interest of a relative's employer. It says public officials must recuse themselves from participating in such matters if they have knowledge of their relative's position. They must also disclose such conflicts.

The indictment against Boyer does not implicate or mention Dixon. In fact, one part of the 10-count indictment accuses Boyer of falsifying payroll documents with a forged signature of Dixon's sister. Boyer is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Jan. 17 in Baltimore Circuit Court, prosecutors said.

"I don't know Mildred Boyer personally. I know her as a business person in the city, but I have no personal relationship with Mildred Boyer," Dixon said at a City Hall news conference yesterday. "My sister is a victim in this situation. I have nothing to do with these allegations on Missy Boyer."

She said the state prosecutor should not be continuing with an investigation that she believes implies she has done something wrong. In March, Maryland State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh's office subpoenaed thousands of documents detailing dealings with Utech and with a council computer technician who used to be Dixon's campaign chairman.

The probe has been a major distraction for Dixon, who will become mayor next month when Martin O'Malley becomes governor.

Boyer's indictment is the only public legal action the state prosecutor has taken in the nearly 10-month probe.

"The question should be to the state prosecutor's office: `Why are you letting this drag out about President Dixon?'" Dixon said. "I am innocent. I resent the fact that the media ... is making me appear to be a guilty party."

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough would not confirm or deny whether an investigation even exists, let alone is continuing.

Dixon's attorney, Dale P. Kelberman, said that if state prosecutors had discovered evidence of a "corrupt relationship" with Boyer, it would have appeared in the indictment released Tuesday.

"The absence of any such charges would lead any reasonable person to conclude there is no relationship," Kelberman said. "I'm hoping [the state prosecutors] have the grace to say that they've concluded the investigation rather than letting it linger."

Dixon said she has fully cooperated by turning over documents.

"They have my entire life," she said, adding that she had not been called in for questioning.

She then opened a copy of the Old Testament and read from Psalm 27: "The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? ... When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell."

She said the passage has helped her to "survive this destruction of someone's character."

"My sister has been blackballed. She is a good person. She has done nothing wrong," she said. "I will continue to keep my head up and move forward."

The charges in the indictment allege that Boyer created invoices for city contracts that she did not actually have and used the false documents to secure $193,736 in loans from an Atlanta-based firm, Action Capital.

Boyer, 41, used the money to buy a Randallstown house in the 3900 block of Whispering Meadow Drive, prosecutors contend. She is charged with six counts of making and issuing false and counterfeit orders for money, a felony that carries a minimum of two years in prison. Boyer is accused of one count of theft, a felony that carries a maximum 15-year penalty or a $25,000 fine.

In addition, she has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of filing false state tax returns and with lying on a car loan application from the Municipal Employees Credit Union.

The indictment also accuses Boyer of submitting a payroll document signed by Janice Dixon to the credit union. Prosecutors claim Janice Dixon never signed the document.

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