Former Baltimore Mayor, Catherine Pugh, held elected offices in Baltimore for two decades and was elevated by voters to lead the city by upheaval of 2015. She was sentenced to three years in federal prison for a fraud scheme involving a children’s book series.
What We Know:
- U.S. District Judge, Deborah Chasanow, described Pugh’s crimes as “astounding” and said she took advantage of a career spent doing good to mislead.
- “I have yet frankly to hear any explanation that makes sense,” the judge said. “This was a tiny mistake, lapse of judgement. This became a very large fraud. The nature and circumstances of this offense clearly, I think, are extremely, extremely serious.”
- Pugh tearfully asked Chasanow for mercy and apologized to the court “to anyone I have offended or hurt through my actions.” She stated that she had “turned a blind eye” and sanctioned things she should not have, but did not intend to cause harm.
- Pugh will not be immediately imprisoned. Chasanow said that Pugh will have to report no later than mid-April.
- Pugh’s political fall began in March when The Baltimore Sun revealed she had entered into a no-bid deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, where Pugh sat on the board of directors, to buy 100,000 copies of her sloppily self-published Healthy Holly books for $500,000. She later resigned from the board and as mayor amid multiple investigations into her finances and the book sales. In total, she netted more than $850,000, prosecutors say.
- She failed to print thousands of copies, double-sold thousands more and used many others for self promotion. She also laundered illegal campaign contributions and failed to pay taxes.
Pugh won a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1999. She joined the House of Delegates in 2005, and rose to the state Senate two years later. In the Senate, she served as majority leader for two years.