Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison For Sales Of Self-Published Children’s Books

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Written by Dana Sanchez
former Baltimore mayor
Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in prison on federal fraud and tax charges after pleading guilty in a scandal involving book sales. Pugh, center, and her attorney Steven Silverman, right, arrive for a sentencing hearing at U.S. District Court in Baltimore Feb. 27, 2020. Pugh pleaded guilty in 2019 to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, 69, was sentenced Thursday in federal court to three years in prison on federal fraud and tax charges after pleading guilty in a scandal involving book sales.

She was accused of double-dealing and defrauding people who bought her “Healthy Holly” children’s books of hundreds of thousands of dollars, then using the money to fund her campaign for mayor. Over several years, Pugh sold her self-published children’s books to nonprofits and foundations.

Pugh apologized ahead of the sentencing in a 13-minute video shared by her legal team. She apologized for bringing negative attention to Baltimore and said she accepted responsibility for her actions, CBS Baltimore reports.

“I know better who I am, but I also know where I am and I accept responsibility, I accept total responsibility,” Pugh said in the video. “I pled guilty. I’m sorry. I don’t know any other words that could be stronger. I’m so sorry, I really am sorry.

“When I think about me and my capacity and my capabilities and all of the things I’ve been able to do, I said, ‘How did you end up here? How did you mess this up?’” At the end of the video in a voice-over, she looked down, with her hands clasped over her face and said, “I messed up. I really messed up.”

Prosecutors had asked for a five-year prison term. The defense team asked for one year and one day.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow handed down the less-than-lenient sentence, slamming Pugh for the seriousness of her crimes, Essence reported.

“This was not a tiny mistake, lapse of judgment,” Chasanow said. “This became a very large fraud. The nature and circumstances of this offense clearly I think are extremely, extremely serious.”

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Pugh was accused of defrauding nonprofits and area businesses of almost $800,000 in sales of her books. She enriched herself unlawfully, promoting her political career and illegally funding her campaign for mayor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.

She resigned in May

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned as mayor in May 2019 — a week after the federal government raided two of her homes, her City Hall office and other locations. Although she has not yet been charged with a crime, Pugh apologized.