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Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday after she pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax evasion related money she received from sales of her self-published children’s book series.
Prosecutors said Pugh, a Democrat who served as Baltimore’s mayor from 2016 to 2019, received more than $850,000 in sales from her “Healthy Holly” books to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and other entities she was connected to.
Pugh admitted in her plea deal that she double-sold books to multiple purchasers and also accepted payments for books that were never delivered. The former mayor also admitted to using the fraudulent proceeds to funnel straw donations to her mayoral campaign and to fund the purchase and renovation of a house in Baltimore.
“I messed up. I really messed up,” Pugh, 69, said in an apology video released Wednesday. “I accept total responsibility. I pled guilty and I’m sorry. I don’t know any other words that could be strong. I am so sorry.”
During her sentencing hearing, Pugh asked for mercy and apologized “to anyone I have offended or hurt during my actions,” The Baltimore Sun reported.
Pugh was also ordered to forfeit nearly $670,000 and to pay restitution of $400,000 to UMMS and $12,000 to the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, according to The Sun.
Pugh’s attorney Steve Silverman had asked the court for a prison sentence of a year and a day, but said after the hearing that the three-year sentence she received was fair.
“It was my goal to make sure that she does not die in prison, and I’m relieved that that’s not going to happen,” Silverman said, adding that he doesn’t expect Pugh to serve more than 18 months in prison.