BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The defense team representing former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh in her federal case stemming from the “Healthy Holly” scandal is recommending she spend just over a year behind bars.

On Thursday, prosecutors recommended she spend nearly five years in prison.

“They’re sending a very loud and clear message here,” University of Maryland Law Professor Doug Colbert said. “I think the government is saying to all of our public officials, ‘We will not tolerate public corruption while in office.'”

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In documents filed with the court Friday morning, Pugh’s attorneys argued that a long sentence would prevent her from rebuilding her life after being released.

“Ms. Pugh has suffered and continues to suffer in an immense and extraordinary way,” the defense’s sentencing memorandum said. “Simply locking her up for a period of time prescribed by the Sentencing Guidelines would not promote the overall goals of federal sentencing.”

The pre-sentencing memo said Pugh is, “humbled, patient and remorseful. She acknowledges her criminal conduct was serious and betrayed the values she spent a lifetime advocating and pursuing.”

Regarding the Healthy Holly books, her lawyers said if Pugh had gotten professional guidance, “the (book sales) could easily have been accomplished in a perfectly appropriate manner.”

Included in the defense filing are multiple letters to the court appealing for leniency for the former mayor, including from former congressman Kweisi Mfume, former state delegate Clarence “Tiger” Davis and Dr. David Wilson, the president of Morgan State University.

In his letter, Mfume said while he’s “not familiar with every aspect of the case,” he recommends Pugh be required to complete volunteer work instead of sitting in jail.

Prosecutors, however, laid out how Pugh sold and re-sold her self-published books in a seven-year scheme, totaling $860,000, receiving checks in the six figures and making illegal donations to her campaign.

Pugh’s attorneys cited her work on the books as an example of her commitment to children, posting pictures of her reading Healthy Holly to children.

“You’re going to hear a very different side of all the good deeds that the mayor has done over her lifetime,” Colbert said.

Pugh’s attorneys said a one year and one-day sentence, “coupled with the loss of her entire career, the public dishonor, and serious economic loss that she has and will continue to suffer, would result in a significant punishment for Ms. Pugh’s actions.”

She’s scheduled to face a judge for sentencing on February 27.

Paul Gessler

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