Ex-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been sentenced to three years in federal prison over federal fraud, tax and conspiracy charges.
In November, Pugh pleaded guilty to the charges, stemming from an allegedly fraudulent scheme involving the sales of her self-published children’s book Healthy Holly.
Pugh used the books as promotional materials during her 2016 mayoral run and the proceeds from their sale to pump illegal money into her campaign, prosecutors said, according to the Baltimore Sun. Pugh spent a total of $2.5 million on her campaign, easily outspending most of her rivals. According to prosecutors, at least part of the campaign cash came from illegal proceeds from Healthy Holly book sales. As a result, she managed a narrow victory in a crowded primary. What’s more, the people and organizations that pre-ordered the book never received the merchandise.
Prosecutors sought a five-year prison sentence for the 69-year-old, who had spent decades in Maryland politics. Pugh’s attorney’s, on the other hand, requested a more lenient prison sentence of one year and one day, noting this is her first offense and that she entered a guilty plea.
Instead, the judge pretty much split it down the middle, according to WYPR.
“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, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I accept responsibility. I accept total responsibility. I’ve plead guilty. I’m sorry.”
After Pugh is released from serving her sentence, she will also have to go through three years of supervised release.
Additionally, U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow ordered Pugh to forfeit approximately $670,000, including a home in Ashburton, Maryland and nearly $18,000 in her campaign account. She must also make restitution payments of $400,000 to the University of Maryland Medical System, where the former mayor once served as a board member.
The medical system had agreed to enter a no-bid deal to purchase 100,000 copies of Pugh’s book.
Pugh will also have to pay back around $12,000 to the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, which purchased books.