BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh may have to pay more than one million dollars in penalties in addition to other monies to the federal government in the ‘Healthy Holly’ book scheme that brought down her political career. 

Judge Deborah Chasanow warned Pugh against making any comments before sentencing that go against the tax evasion and conspiracy charges to which Pugh pleaded guilty on Thursday.

WJZ talked to those who once supported Pugh and feel let down by her betrayal of public trust.

 

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“I’m going to pray for her, but she has to get what she deserves,” said Baltimore resident Orisa Brown who voted for Pugh. “To do something like this, it breaks my heart. It really does.”

There is a one million dollar maximum penalty for just one count in the guilty plea: conspiracy to commit wire fraud

Federal prosecutors have come to no agreement with Pugh about what she may have to give up—although they want Pugh to forfeit her house in Ashburton—where friends held a prayer vigil on the eve of her resignation in May.

It’s also the house she paid for with an illicit six-figure check from a well-connected business leader. According to prosecutors, she told him she needed the house to entertain once she became mayor.

Pugh is also required to work out a deal with the IRS to pay back taxes. In 2016 alone, Pugh underpaid her taxes by almost one hundred thousand dollars.

“What she did was wrong,” said Pugh voter Errol Otis. He believes the former mayor should serve time in federal prison.

The maximum sentence for the charges to which Pugh pleaded guilty is 35 years.

Under the federal sentencing guidelines, which include a reduction for Pugh taking responsibility for her crimes, she faces five years in prison.

However, Judge Chasanow reserves the right to sentence Pugh as she sees fit. And Pugh can only appeal sentences above the maximum penalty.

Pugh took more than three-quarters of a million dollars for her ‘Healthy Holly’ books. Many were supposed to go to Baltimore City school children, but few ever did. She re-sold them, with the help of a close aide, to fund her mayoral campaign and line her own pockets.

“She let us down,” said Baltimore resident Eddie Washington. “We trusted her. We voted for her.”

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