Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been indicted for committing fraud, evading federal taxes and illegally boosting her political campaign in association with a series of children’s books she self-published.
Pugh, 69, is alleged to have sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of her Healthy Holly books to a health care company whose board she sat on while a state senator. After she was paid, thousands of the books were never delivered.
The 11-count federal indictment alleges that Pugh formed a company whose sole mission was to accept kickbacks disguised as sales of the books, which feature a young African American girl who promotes the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise program.
The money from the non-existent books was illegally funneled to her political campaign through a straw company, and used for personal items, including a house. For the tax year 2016, Pugh claimed her taxable income was $31,020 and the tax due was $4,168. In reality, her taxable income was $322,365, and she approximately owed $102,444.
The federal government is hoping to seize a house owned by Pugh worth $770,000. Meanwhile, Pugh’s attorney claims that she is so fragile physically and mentally she is unable to make “major decisions.” If convicted, she could serve up to 100 years in prison.