Dixon Gifts Keep Giving (to Prosecutor)

July 31, 2009|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

The furs are back. So's the Ritz in Colorado. The $3,200 weekend getaway to New York's Trump International. The $8,400 spending spree at Chicago's Armani, Coach and St. John Boutique.

The state prosecutor's do-over indictment puts the bling back into the case against Mayor Sheila Dixon. But the new charges don't just restore the glitzy travel and Jimmy Choos that a Circuit Court judge tossed out on a technicality in May.

It also gives us Dixon doing what big-city mayors do best: begging for cash.

Indictment No. 1 claimed that Dixon's developer-boyfriend, Ron Lipscomb, picked up the tab for lots of travel. It also suggested - without connecting all the dots - that after a March 2004 trip to Chicago, Lipscomb passed at least $10,000 in cash to Dixon to cover the whopping AmEx bill she'd racked up at Michigan Avenue boutiques.

Even that was not enough to satisfy Her Honor, according to Indictment No. 2, which the newly cooperating Lipscomb apparently helped make possible.

It claims Dixon asked Lipscomb for cash during the Chicago trip - hey, politicians need their walking-around money - and he handed her $2,000 to $3,000. Back in Baltimore, Dixon told Lipscomb she needed help paying that AmEx bill, and he gave her $1,500 to $2,000 in cash, the new indictment claims.

The direct requests for cash alleged here are something new. The original indictment just had it turning up mysteriously: a $6,000 ATM deposit here, a $4,000 wad (handed off in a city car) there.

Dixon has claimed all along that Lipscomb showered her with gifts because they were dating, not because she could and did provide him with multimillion-dollar tax breaks. It'll be up to a jury to decide if Dixon was a corrupt pol or just an extremely grabby girlfriend.

Both sides hopes for miracle

It's too soon to say the bread man is toast. But now that McDonald's bun baker John Paterakis has been indicted, and City Councilwoman Helen Holton has been re-indicted, one thing seems clear: Divine intervention isn't working for them anymore.

When a Circuit Court judge dismissed bribery charges against Holton in May, she credited the guy upstairs.

"God, our mighty, mighty God ... has found favor with this child of his," Holton declared via e-mail.

Two years ago, when Paterakis reflected on how he'd transformed 20 forlorn acres into glittering Harbor East, he told The Baltimore Sun's Jill Rosen: "What's happening down here is almost a miracle."

After all those blessings come criminal charges related to a $12,500 poll that Paterakis and the aforementioned Ron Lipscomb are accused of bankrolling for Holton. Have Paterakis and Holton fallen out of celestial favor?

Having turned water into wine, gritty shore into yuppie paradise, indicted councilwoman into cleared pol, the almighty might be looking for a real challenge: giving State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh a win.

Pricey fashion

The biggest bargain at Baltimore Fashion Week must be snatched up by today, the last day reporters and photographers can sign up to cover the four-day fashion show for a low, low $65.

After that, the price tag on the "media application fee" shoots up to $85.

Media application fee?

Reporters cover Super Bowls for free. Who'd shell out for a fashion show?

Apparently the media do it all the time - in New York and Milan.

"All the other major events are like this," said Maria Roberts, media director for the event, which begins Aug. 10 at the War Memorial Building.

Baltimore Fashion Week didn't charge when it launched last year, but Roberts figures news organizations will pay up this year. As of yesterday, none had.

Laura Vozzella's column appears Fridays.

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