Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh just admitted she is a crook and a felon. She just pleaded guilty to corruption charges and will go to jail.
She admitted guilt in four of the eleven counts federal prosecutors hit her with so this may be just the tip of the iceberg for the disgraced former politician.
The charges stem from her use of a fraudulent children’s book business to make money and fund her political career.
In other words, her house of cards has fallen and she will have a long time to think about it.
She is the second Baltimore Mayor in the last ten years to go down in a massive corruption scandal.
Pugh, 69, a Democrat who took office in 2016, acknowledged her guilt to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government and two counts of tax evasion.
The deal to plead guilty on four of the 11 counts she was indicted on sets Pugh up for a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 27. Prosecutors said they will recommend to the judge that Pugh be sent to prison for five years.
“She betrayed the trust placed in her by the public,” U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur said after the court hearing in Baltimore. “We need dedication and professionalism from our leaders, not fraud and corruption.”
Prosecutors accused Pugh of earning nearly $800,000 from a self-published children’s book series known as Healthy Holly that promoted exercise and nutritional eating though stories of an African American girl.
But the problem was thousands of books that nonprofits and foundations ordered to distribute in schools and day cares to promote healthy choices and combat obesity were never delivered to the city’s children.
Instead, authorities say she took books that were already purchased and resold them. Pugh then funneled those proceeds into her own political campaigns and used the cash to purchase and renovate a house in Baltimore.
In particular, Pugh had $35,800 in checks written for her books cashed and turned them into political donations in other peoples’ names, also known as “straw donors,” ahead of mayoral election in 2016.
“The straw donations purchased with the cash were then deposited into the bank account for the Committee to Elect Catherine Pugh,” prosecutors wrote in the indictment…
…Pugh is the second Baltimore mayor in the past decade to resign amid a corruption scandal. In 2010, Mayor Sheila Dixon stepped down after prosecutors accused her of stealing gift cards intended for the needy at Christmas to purchase clothing and electronics for herself. A jury convicted her of embezzlement.