former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh entered a guilty plea Thursday to four of the 11 federal charges filed against her, based on accusations she used her children’s books as a ruse to raise money for her campaign and a new house.
Per WBOY, Pugh faces up to 35 years in prison at her scheduled Feb. 27 sentencing. U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said she could be sentenced to about five years based on sentencing guidelines, but a judge would make the final determination.
Pugh had nothing to say as she left Federal Court.
Former #Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had nothing to say as she left Federal Court – she pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud charges today @wbalradio #HealthyHolly pic.twitter.com/KZZuhZoZOx
— Phil Yacuboski (@WBALPhil) November 21, 2019
Per WBAL, Pugh, 69, was charged Nov. 14 with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of tax evasion. The charges were made public Wednesday.
Pugh pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and tax evasion charges. The remaining charges generally get dismissed at sentencing, officials said.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced an 11-count indictment against Pugh and related guilty pleas from two former aides. Pugh, who was elected in 2016, resigned in May, becoming Baltimore’s second mayor in less than a decade to step down amid scandal.
“The facts to which Miss Pugh admitted in federal court… just a few minutes ago were lengthy and extensive,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur, who called Pugh’s actions “a very significant betrayal of the public trust.”
Pugh pleaded guilty to four of the 11 counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three tax evasion charges. Pugh answered Judge Deborah K. Chasanow’s questions, saying she was pleading guilty because she was guilty.
In a statement, defense attorney Steven Silverman said Pugh decided to forego a trial, worried about the drain on government resources and the distraction it could cause.
“Ms. Pugh sincerely apologizes to all of those she let down, most especially the citizens of Baltimore whom she had the honor to serve in multiple capacities for decades,” Silverman said. “She looks forward to the conclusion of this process.”
After the hearing, Pugh could be seen dabbing her eyes with a tissue. She declined comment as she left the courthouse.
Pugh admitted she and aide Gary Brown Jr. used the proceeds of the sale of fraudulently obtained “Healthy Holly” books to fund straw donations to her campaign and to fund the purchase and renovation of her northwest Baltimore home.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 27. 2020. Hur said sentencing guidelines would likely call for Pugh to serve five years in prison. He said he expects Chasanow will take the brazenness of Pugh’s crimes into account.
“This was not conduct that spanned weeks or months or even one year,” Hur said. “It spanned a number of years dating all the way back to 2011.”
Prosecutors intend to seek forfeiture of $770,000 and Pugh’s home.