Former mayor gets 3 years
BALTIMORE (AP) — Yet another embarrassing chapter in Baltimore’s extremely troubled history ended Thursday when the city’s former mayor was sentenced to federal prison for three years for fraudulently selling her self-published children’s books to nonprofit organizations to promote her political career.
Catherine Pugh accepted “full responsibility” for her actions and apologized through tears during the roughly 10 minutes she spoke in federal court in Baltimore before she was sentenced. The veteran Democratic politician said that “no one is more disappointed than me” and added that she did not want to bring “any more shame” to the city.
“I think the first thing I should do is apologize to the citizens of Baltimore who put their faith and trust in me as their mayor, and to all the people who put their faith and trust in me as state senator and as delegate,” Pugh said outside the courthouse after being sentenced.
The scandal shook Maryland’s largest city, which for years has struggled with grinding poverty, political mismanagement, record crime rates and police abuses that led to massive riots. And it made a mockery of Pugh’s inaugural promise to restore trust in Baltimore’s leaders.
Pugh, who turns 70 next week, was elected mayor in 2016 and resigned under pressure in May as authorities investigated bulk sales of her “Healthy Holly” paperbacks, which netted her hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Federal authorities accused her of double selling the books, keeping many for self-promotion purposes and failing to deliver them to institutions they were purchased for, including the Baltimore City Public Schools. Pugh used the proceeds to fund straw donations to her mayoral campaign and buy a new house.
Pugh was also sentenced Thursday to serve three years of supervised release after getting out of prison. She was ordered to pay more than $411,000 in restitution and to forfeit more than $669,000 to the government.