Baltimore Ex Mayor Catherine Pugh will be sentenced on Thursday, it’s being three months after she pleaded guilty to federal fraud, tax and conspiracy charges over a scheme involving sales of her self-published Healthy Holly children’s books.
Prosecutors guned for a five years in prison sentence. Pugh’s attorney asked the judge for a more lenient prison sentence of one year and one day, noting that she is a first-time offender and she entered a guilty plea.
Earlier in November, Pugh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government and two counts of tax evasion.
Following Thursday’s sentencing, her lawyers submitted a 13-minute video to the judge in which she apologizes and says the nearly yearlong legal saga created a “ringing negativity” in the city of Baltimore.
“First, I want to apologize to the citizens, to young people, to partners, to my friends, everyone I’ve offended, everyone I’ve hurt and the city’s image by pleading guilty and by being involved in all of this that has led me here today,” Pugh says in the video, per The Baltimore Sun.
“I accept responsibility. I accept total responsibility. I’ve plead guilty. I’m sorry,” she says.
Pugh stepped down as mayor in May 2019 as allegations of “self-dealing” in connection with the sale of thousands of copies of her Healthy Holly children’s books swallowed her administration.
Before she resigned, federal investigators were looking into the book sales, many of which went to entities she had influence over or businesses that hoped to do business with the city and the state.
Catherine’S Prosecutors accused her of earning approximately $800,000 from the Healthy Holly book series about an African American girl who promoted exercise and nutritional eating habits.
“But the problem was thousands of books that nonprofits and foundations ordered to distribute in schools and day cares to promote healthy choices and combat obesity were never delivered to the city’s children,” as NPR reported in November.
“Instead, authorities say she took books that were already purchased and resold them. Pugh then funneled those proceeds into her own political campaigns and used the cash to purchase and renovate a house in Baltimore.”
In April, ex mayor Pugh took an “indefinite leave of absence” claiming she had health challenges. By then, the book scandal had already jeopardized her term in office.
In same month federal agents with the FBI and IRS raided Pugh’s home and offices at City Hall in connection to their investigation into the fraudulent book scheme. Hours after the raids, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called for Pugh’s resignation.
He said “Now more than ever, Baltimore City needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead.”
She would remain in office for another week.
Catherine’s career in Maryland politics spread for decades.
First, she was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1999 and won a seat in the Maryland State Senate in 2007. During that time, she drew widespread praise during the unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died while in police custody in 2015.
Pugh, assisted by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, spent hours trying to quell distressed crowds in the streets of West Baltimore. She sang “This Little Light of Mine,” according to the Sun, and told residents, “We are a great city.”
In 2016 she also got elected as Baltimore’s 50th mayor.