BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh broke her silence in an exclusive interview with The Afro released Thursday, months after her early release from federal prison.

Pugh, 72, talked with the newspaper about her 19-month stint in the Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Alabama. and how she plans to make a resurgence in Baltimore.

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“I cried the first seven days because I was actually put into the special housing unit (SHU). The SHU was for people who had discipline issues,” Pugh told the newspaper.

Pugh thought she would quarantine and then go to a less restricted area of the prison known as “camp.” Instead, she was on lockdown before being moved to the prison area, where she couldn’t see the light of day.

“We didn’t go outside,” said Pugh. “The first time we went out might have been September. We would go out for one hour — one hour a week.”

In March 2021, Pugh did make it to “camp,” where she became a cook, taught piano lessons and helped women get their GED.

Pugh said she encountered a lot of people who want to improve themselves.

“A lot of women who are there because of their need to have more money for their children,” she said.

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Pugh resigned from the mayor’s office in May 2019, a week after federal agents raided her home and office amid a scandal over a kickback scheme involving a series of children’s books she authored. She was indicted in November 2019 on 11 counts including fraud and tax evasion charges.

She was sentenced in February 2020 to three years in prison following her conviction on fraud and tax evasion charges and served the rest of her sentence at a residential facility in the Baltimore area, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

As part of Pugh’s sentence, she was ordered to pay nearly $412,000 in restitution and to forfeit nearly $670,000 including property on Ellamont Road, along with $17,800 from a political committee.

That same month, Pugh pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of tax evasion. Three months later, she was sentenced to three years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.

In January, Pugh was transferred to a local halfway house, about a year and a half ahead of her release date.

She’s now scheduled to serve as an interim host of Larry Young’s morning show on WOLB 1010 AM, according to the newspaper.

The former mayor plans to discuss the city’s Black businesses and digital equity.

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“Economically, we still are not where we’re supposed to be,” she told the newspaper. “In many ways we’re headed in the right direction. We certainly have more people in business than what we’ve had, but I don’t know if we have the kind of economic power we would need to bridge the gap economically, socially or otherwise in the city.”

CBS Baltimore Staff