Baltimore Council Member, Pr. George's Developer Indicted

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Baltimore grand jury indicted a City Council member and a Prince George's County developer with close ties to Mayor Sheila Dixon yesterday on bribery charges related to tax breaks for a high-end building under construction on the city waterfront.

The indictments of council member Helen L. Holton and developer Ronald H. Lipscomb are the most prominent charges to emerge from a wide-ranging probe by the state prosecutor, which included a search of the mayor's home last summer.

Prosecutors say Holton, head of a committee overseeing tax incentives, approved tax breaks worth millions of dollars for projects involving Lipscomb after he paid $12,500 for a political survey for Holton last year.

Holton was also charged with perjury for failing to disclose the payment on her annual financial disclosure statement and with misusing her office. She said in a statement that she was "disappointed" by the grand jury's decision and would remain in office while legal proceedings continue. The charges against Holton and Lipscomb are misdemeanors.

Gerard Martin, an attorney for Lipscomb, said in an e-mail: "Mr. Lipscomb is innocent and wants to tell everyone that but we, as his lawyers, have instructed him to . . . defend himself at his trial and not in the press."

-- Baltimore Sun

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