Dixon to resign as Baltimore mayor in ethics probe deal

State Sen. Nathaniel McFadden comforts Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who will resign next month.
State Sen. Nathaniel McFadden comforts Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who will resign next month. (Rob Carr/associated Press)
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By Julie Bykowicz
The Baltimore Sun
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon will resign next month, part of a plea deal reached Wednesday that brings a years-long corruption investigation to a close and ends the tenure of the city's first female mayor.

Dixon, 56, will be sentenced Feb. 4. Under the terms of the agreement, in which she added a guilty plea in a perjury case to last month's jury conviction for embezzlement, she will cease leading the city that day.

She may not hold any city or state position for at least two years. She is to perform 500 hours of community service and pay $45,000 to charity. None of her attorneys' fees can be paid with public money. If she completes her probation within four years, her criminal record will be wiped clean.

She will probably be able to keep her $83,000 pension, which she would begin collecting the moment she steps down.

A teary Dixon announced her resignation hours after the court proceeding, choking up as she said it was "with great sadness" that she would leave office. She did not apologize but said there would come a time after sentencing when she could give her full side of the story.

The first black woman elected to the City Council presidency, Dixon has been a public official for 23 years. She was raised in West Baltimore, where she still lives. She is twice divorced and has a daughter in college and a younger son.

After Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) was elected governor in 2006, Dixon assumed the city's top job. She was elected in her own right the next fall and has been a popular mayor whose signature programs include recycling, homeless services and street repaving.

Dixon will turn over power to City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Both are Democrats.

Rawlings-Blake did not attend the news conference at City Hall. She later released a statement calling this time "sad and difficult" for Baltimore and vowing a smooth transition of power. She did not mention Dixon.

State prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh said he was satisfied with the court outcome, which he said was a good deal for the city.

"It was time for this case to come to an end," he said. "It's time for the city of Baltimore to move forward with a new mayor. This is a disgraced mayor."

The prosecutor, who has been investigating Dixon since March 2006, said that the mayor's defense team approached him about a week ago and that plea discussions began in earnest Monday.

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