Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh learned her fate today in the fraud case involving a children’s book she authored called Healthy Holly. While in office, Pugh was involved with bulk sales of her self-published book to state organizations and nonprofits for the purposes of enriching herself and funding her campaign, and now she will be serving three years in prison for tax evasion and wire fraud. Pugh resigned from her post last May and this week submitted a video to the court in which she apologized “to the citizens, to young people, to my partners, my friends, everyone I’ve offended, everyone I’ve hurt, and the city’s image.”
In addition to her jail term, CNN reports that Pugh will have to pay $411,948 in restitution and forfeit more than $600,000, which includes a house in the Baltimore area and almost $18,000 from her campaign account. Organizations that bought books from her include the University of Maryland Medical System, which made the purchase while Pugh was a member of its board, though she eventually stepped down. UMMS paid $500,000 for about 100,000 copies of Healthy Holly, but a spokesperson for the organization said “the company never had possession of any Healthy Holly books, nor did it distribute books.” Pugh canceled the deal after she came under suspicion. Kaiser Permanente in Baltimore also bought books from Pugh, as did the Associated Black Charities, which started buying books from her as far back as 2011 when she was a state senator. Over the yearslong buildup of the scandal, the prosecution in the case explained that books in some cases were never delivered and were sometimes double sold by Pugh and her campaign adviser, Gary Brown, to pad profits.
“When I think about me, and my capacity and my capabilities and all the things I’ve been able to do I said, ‘How do you end up here? I mean, how do you mess this up?’” Pugh said in her video statement. “I messed up. I really messed up. I am so sorry. I really am sorry.”