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Baltimore Mayor Dixon Resigns, Leave Office Feb 4

Baltimore Mayor Dixon Resigns, Leave Office Feb 4

(Courtesy AP) Mayor Sheila Dixon, center, arrives at Court House East in Baltimore for a hearing concerning her embezzlement conviction Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010. Dixon agreed to resign Wednesday as part of a deal with prosecutors, ending a three-year tenur

Julie Bykowicz | The Baltimore Sun via YellowBrix

January 07, 2010

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon resigned Wednesday, part of a plea deal that brings a years-long corruption investigation to a close and ends the tenure of the city’s first female mayor.

Dixon, 56, will leave office Feb. 4, the day she is sentenced both for a guilty plea she entered in a perjury case and for her embezzlement conviction last month. She will keep her $83,000 pension, which she could begin collecting the moment she steps down, and her criminal record will be wiped clean if she completes the terms of her probation within four years.

A teary Dixon returned to City Hall to announce her resignation, saying that she was doing so “with deep regret and sadness.” She did not apologize but said there would come a time, after sentencing, that she could give her full side of the story.

“I love the city. I love the people of this city,” said Dixon, who was raised in West Baltimore, where she still lives. “Now it’s time to move on.”

The first black woman elected to the City Council presidency, Dixon, a Democrat, has been a public official for 23 years. Now she is barred from seeking or holding any city or state post for at least two years, a condition of her probation.

After Mayor Martin O’Malley 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, services for the homeless and street repaving.

Dixon will turn over power to City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, a Democrat.

Rawlings-Blake did not attend Dixon’s news conference at City Hall. She later released a statement calling this “a sad and difficult time for Baltimore” and vowing a smooth transition of leadership. She did not mention Dixon.

State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case, 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 the mayor’s defense team approached him about a week ago and that plea discussions began in earnest Monday. Other conditions of the agreement include performing 500 hours of community service and donating $45,000 to charity. None of her attorneys’ fees can be paid with public money.

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