BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Acting Mayor of Baltimore City Jack Young requested Thursday that the Department of Audits review Associate Black Charities’ (ABC) management of the first year of funding for the Baltimore City Children and Youth Fund.
The non-profit was awarded $10.8 million in grants in 2017 after it sold Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books between 2011 and 2016 to multiple other companies who did business with the city.
Young issued a statement on Thursday, saying in part:
“I am aware that these payments came well before ABC was selected to administer the Youth Fund. I have no concern that ABC’s management of the Youth Fund is related in any way to its relationship with Catherine Pugh or Healthy Holly, LLC.”
However, Young said that he is calling for the audit, “with an eye toward full transparency.”
Young also called for City Council Bill 19-038, which extends the City’s agreement with ABC for one year, to be put on hold until the audit is completed.
Young’s statement also said:
“It is of the utmost importance that this fund continues to benefit the children and youth of Baltimore City. This fund represents our dedication to serving the youth of this city. Therefore, it is important to maintain the public’s confidence that the historic Children & Youth Fund is managed approprietly.”
Councilman Ryan Dorsey asked the City’s Inspector General to open an investigation in early April into Pugh’s business dealings.
“The active investigations seem to be predicated on pretty clear and hard evidence of deep infractions of ethics, law and public trust,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey told WJZ that they are investigating, but he has not been told that officially.
The Inspector’s General’s Office said that they typically don’t comment or confirm any active investigations.
“If, in fact, she did have a conflict of interest and did not rescue herself, that’s another possibility of being charged with criminal misconduct,” James Cabezas, a retired corruption investigator, said.
Cabezas said the Inspector General and State Prosecutor will work closely and that they have likely started their fact-finding.
“The different bank accounts Mayor Pugh has, that way they’ll get to see money in and money out,” he said.
Cabezas said that interviews will come next in the process, but that they would have to be carefully coordinated.
“You don’t want to be stepping over each other,” he said. “You also don’t want to be doing duplicate interviews.”
Monday, 14 councilmembers signed a letter asking Pugh to resign immediately. Pugh’s aides said that she fully intends to on returning after she recovers from pneumonia.
To read the entire coverage of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” Book Scandal click here.