BALTIMORE – Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was charged on Wednesday with wire fraud and tax evasion relating to sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book to charities where she worked, federal prosecutors said.
The charges against the Democrat and former state lawmaker relate to her dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System, of which she was a board member, and which paid her for her children’s books about a character named “Healthy Holly.”
Pugh, 69, who initially defended the arrangement, called it a “regrettable mistake” in March and resigned in May.
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She could not be immediately reached for comment.
Federal prosecutors charged Pugh with using the proceeds of the book sales to fund straw donations to her mayoral election campaign and towards the purchase and renovation of a house in Baltimore.
“Our elected officials must place the interests of the citizens above their own,” U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement. “Corrupt public employees rip off the taxpayers and undermine everyone’s faith in government.”
Pugh was elected to a four-year term as mayor in 2016 after gaining prominence as a state lawmaker during protests over the 2015 death in police custody of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray.
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(Reporting by Donna Owens in Baltimore and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum.)
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