Boyfriend, Aides Take The Stand

Next Witness: A Suitor Who Prefers Hugs To Tax Breaks

The Mayor On Trial

November 14, 2009|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,jean.marbella@baltsun.com

A day after Mayor Sheila Dixon's defense team signaled it would be trashing developer Ronald Lipscomb, the one-time paramour who will testify that he gave her gift cards for the needy that she spent herself, Not-Ronald-Lipscomb appeared on the witness stand.

His real name is Edward Anthony, but his testimony Friday seemed designed to portray him as good boyfriend to Lipscomb's bad boyfriend.

Anthony is still dating the mayor, for one thing, while Lipscomb has gone back to his wife. When Anthony gives her presents, they aren't bought by underlings and delivered anonymously but in person, so he can steal a moment with the busy Dixon. And while Lipscomb received tax breaks for multimillion-dollar development projects while dating her, Anthony testified that what he wants from Dixon is ... a hug.

An official with the city's housing department, Anthony was called as a witness for the prosecution because he is one of her intimates who somehow ended up with a gift card that developers had donated to Dixon, purportedly to be given to the city's needy.

Incidentally, you have to wonder what it was like for Anthony to learn that he had used a gift card that had been given to his current girlfriend by her former boyfriend - and that he would be called to testify about it.

Awkward!

Maybe, but as it turns out, Anthony wasn't much help to the prosecution. While prosecutors produced receipts showing that he had used a Giant gift card that had been purchased by a Lipscomb employee and given to Dixon, Anthony testified he didn't remember how the card came into his hands - only that the mayor didn't give it to him.

Defense lawyer Melissa Phinn, sitting next to Dixon, took over the questioning and managed to steal the prosecutors' witness right in front of them - not to mention providing a platform for Anthony to score major boyfriend points along the way.

He talked about how hard Dixon worked, both for the city and as a mother to her two children. How they communicated mainly by phone because she was so busy. How he took every opportunity to call during breaks at work because saying hello "feels good."

"Our relationship is very challenging. You have to love and respect a person to stay in a relationship the way I have," he said.

What all this has to do with the charges at hand is beyond me. But with prosecutors remaining silent and not objecting to this divergence, Anthony blew more verbal kisses toward the defense table.

The subject, as it tends to do in this trial, turned to gifts given to Dixon.

Do you have them sent to City Hall, or take them there yourself, Phinn asked, as if she didn't know.

"I would deliver it myself ... for a couple reasons," Anthony said. "First, I would want to see her," he added, and take "the opportunity to get a hug."

And secondly, Anthony said, it was a way of making sure she got and kept the present because sometimes, "out of the goodness of her heart," she would give it to someone else.

I couldn't tell if the jurors were silently going "awwwww" or "ewwwww."

It was just one day after the defense used its opening statement to portray Lipscomb as a lying, near-stalker of the mayor - "What Ms. Dixon didn't know at the time was there was a very deceptive, untrustworthy side to Mr. Lipscomb," Arnold Weiner said ominously.

Lipscomb has yet to testify, and yet he hovers over proceedings. Weiner even put a picture of the developer on the exhibits screen at one point Friday while Lipscomb's aide Randell Finney was testifying.

And, just like a good episode of "Law & Order," where the plot takes a tantalizing twist right before a commercial break, Weiner hinted in his last round of questions before a morning recess Friday that there was more dirt on Lipscomb to come. Noting that Finney said he had once cashed a $4,400 check to wire money to his boss in Seattle on a business trip, Weiner slyly asked if it wasn't true that "Mr. Lipscomb also had personal business in Seattle?"

While Finney said he wouldn't know about that, the way love and money have been intertwined in this trial, surely someone at some point will.

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