ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WJZ) — Baltimore’s disgraced former mayor Catherine Pugh, who was embroiled in a scandal involving her “Healthy Holly” children’s books pleaded guilty to perjury Friday, waiving her right to a trial. The judge sentenced her to a six-month sentence concurrent with her federal sentence which is supposed to begin on July 26, 2020.
Pugh was present at the plea hearing on the state misdemeanor charge held Friday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
BREAKING: Catherine Pugh is sentenced to 6 months concurrent to her federal sentence, which is set to begin a week from today.
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) June 19, 2020
In court the judge sad he was sad to learn about Pugh’s scheme.
“I became very sad for the city, quite frankly, and for the people that put you in that post that you were in because really it forced you to leave the helm of a ship in the middle of a tempest,” the judge, a Navy veteran, said referring to the three pandemics Baltimore is dealing with — violence, COVID-19 and the opioid epidemic.
But he said he hopes that is this isn’t her final chapter and that after she serves her prison time she can come back and help her community.
As the attorneys, prosecutors and judge asked Pugh questions she would quietly respond through her mask often with just one word, “yes.”
“Ensuring that our elected officials are transparent about their business relationships is essential to maintaining the integrity of our government institutions,” said Howard. “Our office is committed to holding accountable those who evade the law and abuse positions of public trust in Maryland. I would like to commend former Acting State Prosecutor Kelly Madigan, Deputy State Prosecutor Sarah David, and Office of the State Prosecutor Special Agent Daniel Bralove for their work on this case. ”
Pugh walked three blocks back to her attorney's car letting him do the talking. pic.twitter.com/HY3W2P4maK
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) June 19, 2020
She has already has been sentenced to three years in federal prison over the self-dealing scandal, which involved children’s books touting exercise and nutrition that netted the now-70-year-old Democrat hundreds of thousands of dollars. She had pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges last year and is scheduled to report to federal prison later this month.
The state perjury charge relates to Pugh’s failure to disclose her business interest in Healthy Holly, LLC on her financial disclosure forms when she was a Maryland state senator. Pugh earned at least $345,000 in income in 2016 through sales of her books, but failed to mention her ownership in the forms filed with the Maryland State Ethics Commission and signed under the penalties of perjury, according to the state prosecutor’s office.
Pugh served in the Maryland Senate from 2007 to 2016, when she was elected Baltimore’s mayor. She resigned as mayor under pressure last year as authorities investigated bulk sales of her paperbacks.
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In the federal case, Pugh admitted to defrauding purchasers of her books to pay for straw donations to her political campaign for mayor and to fund the purchase and renovation of a house in Baltimore.
She also admitted to selling her books to the University of Maryland Medical System, where she had served as a board member.
The medical system paid Pugh a total of $500,000 for 100,000 copies that were meant to be distributed to schoolchildren, but about 60,000 of those books were sent to a city warehouse and a Pugh office where thousands were removed to give to other customers.
Prosecutors say Pugh never delivered the other 40,000 books the health system purchased for city schools.
While serving in the state Senate, Pugh sat on a committee that funded the medical system. She also sat on the hospital network’s board from 2001 until the scandal erupted in March 2019. Pugh returned the last $100,000 payment.
Before her federal sentencing in February, Pugh accepted “full responsibility” for her actions and apologized through tears during the roughly 10 minutes she spoke in federal court in Baltimore. She said she did not want to bring “any more shame” to Maryland’s largest city, which for years has struggled with grinding poverty, political mismanagement, record crime rates and police abuses that led to massive riots.
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