Published: Fri, November 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Catherine Pugh 'Healthy Holly' books bring indictment against ex-Baltimore mayor

Catherine Pugh 'Healthy Holly' books bring indictment against ex-Baltimore mayor

In a grand jury indictment released Wednesday, she is charged with a total of 11 counts of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy in an alleged corrupt scheme involving the sale of a self-published series of children's books.

Pugh, 69, resigned in May following revelations that she grossed more than 500,000 USA dollars by selling her self-published Healthy Holly children's books to companies, nonprofits and foundations, including some that benefited from her official actions.

Federal authorities say Pugh and two city employees double-sold her self-published children's books or failed to deliver them to institutions they were purchased for, including the Baltimore City Public Schools.

Defense attorney Steven Silverman says he'll "address the matter in open court" on Thursday.

She is scheduled to appear 1 p.m. Tuesday for arraignment at U.S. District Court in Baltimore before U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow. Instead, Pugh stored thousands of copies of the books at her home, the mayor's office at City Hall, her legislative offices, the War Memorial Building, a public storage locker used by Pugh's mayoral campaign, her vehicles.

"Fraud and corruption of the sort we are addressing today undermine the public's faith in public officials", Robert Hur, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, told reporters Wednesday in Baltimore.

"This is a tragedy and the last thing that our city needs", U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said at a news briefing.

Pugh, 69, resigned in May as federal, state, and local authorities probed whether she arranged bulk book sales to disguise political kickbacks that netted her hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

"The people of Maryland expect elected officials to make decisions based on the public's best interests, not to abuse their office for personal gain", Jennifer Boone, the special agent in charge, said in the statement.

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The grand jury indictment returned on November 14 also charged two Pugh associates, Gary Brown, Jr., and Roslyn Wedington, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud.

Pugh received $500,000 for 100,000 copies of her children's book, "Healthy Holly", beginning in 2011 when Pugh was a state senator.

The indictment accuses her, among other crimes, of claiming taxable income in 2016 of $31,020, with $4,168 tax due, "when in fact, Pugh's taxable income was $322,365, with an income tax due of approximately $102,444".

Pugh's Healthy Holly books, which promoted healthy exercise and nutritional habits, were sold mostly to foundations that did business with the city of Baltimore, the indictment says.

The indictment provides details of Pugh's alleged tax evasion.

"We're going to have to step in and do something about it because we can't allow that to happen to our great cities", the president said.

Pugh has been in seclusion as a result of early April, when she took a go away from the mayor's workplace surroundings because of what her legislation agency defined as weak general well being subsequent a bout of pneumonia.

Brown had been an aide to Pugh during her time in the state Senate and during her 2016 campaign for mayor. She also returned $100,000 to the medical system, canceled her book deal and resigned from the hospital's board. There was no contract behind the deal and the medical system described some of the purchases as "grants" in federal filings.

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