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Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh /pyu/ pleaded guilty to several charges relating to a book scandal.
Pugh, the mayor of Baltimore since 2016, came under public scrutiny in March this year. At the time, The Baltimore Sun was conducting a standard review of public officials’ financial records. According to the publication, Pugh made $500,000 from selling her self-published Healthy Holly books to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), where she was a board member. The mayor also failed to report the profit she made to the government.
This prompted the government to begin a formal investigation in April. Shortly after the beginning of the investigation, Pugh stepped down as mayor because of public pressure. In November, the government released its findings in an indictment.
According to the indictment, Pugh encouraged foundations and non-profit organizations like the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) to buy her books. However, Pugh reportedly violated business agreements through actions like not delivering the books or selling them twice to double the profit. Pugh also used the profit from the books to fund her election campaign in 2016 and to purchase and renovate a residence in Baltimore.
The prosecutors charged Pugh with multiple counts of tax evasion and fraud, most of which she pleaded guilty to. The former mayor will face a prison sentence of 35 years for her crimes.
After the indictment’s release, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert Hur commented that Pugh betrayed public trust. He added that public officials involved in corruption deceive the people and cause them to lose trust in the government. Because of this, the attorney believes that public officials should always prioritize the interest of the citizens over their personal interests.