Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh sentenced to three years in federal court

01 Mars, 2020, 02:49 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh sentenced to three years in federal court

Prosecutors had sought a five-year prison term for Pugh, a Democrat who had served in various Baltimore public offices for decades.

Catherine Pugh received her prison sentence, plus three years of supervised release, on Thursday after last year pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges over a scheme involving her children's books, The Associated Press reports.

Pugh, 69, pleaded guilty in November to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges in a deal with prosecutors, who asked the judge to impose a prison term of almost five years.

Prosecutors said she tried to cheat the Internal Revenue Service out of money earned from her "Healthy Holly" book series. The veteran Democratic politician said that "no one is more disappointed than me" and added that she did not want to bring "any more shame" to the city.

Ahead of Thursday's sentencing, her lawyers submitted a 13-minute video to the judge in which she apologizes and says the almost yearlong legal saga created a "ringing negativity" in the city of Baltimore. "I've plead guilty. I'm sorry", she says.

Pugh, 69, asked U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow for mercy and apologized in court "to anyone I have offended or hurt through my actions".

Pugh was also sentenced to three years of supervised release after she gets out of prison, and ordered to pay more than $411,000 U.S. in restitution.

Former Mayor Kurt Schmoke was one of five people who spoke in court Thursday on Pugh's behalf.

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The collapse of Pugh's leadership was another black eye for Baltimore, a crime- and poverty-plagued city that saw a previous mayor, Sheila Dixon, resign in 2010 after her conviction on embezzling gift cards intended for poor people. "This was not a tiny mistake, lapse of judgment".

"It was a very serious matter for the entire city but I think that we can get on to the prospect of healing, now look to the future", he said. "I don't know any other words that could be stronger". But only about 73,200 copies had been printed.

"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", as NPR reported in November.

Pugh will also have to pay back around $12,000 to the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, which purchased books.

Sales were made to local health providers and schools, but in some cases the books were never delivered and actually sold for a second time.

The medical system paid Pugh a total of $500,000 for 100,000 copies that were meant to be distributed to schoolchildren, but about 60,000 of those books were sent to a city warehouse and a Pugh office where thousands were removed to give to other customers.

Pugh had previously served in the state Senate, where she sat on a committee that funded the medical system. The former mayor returned the final $100,000 payment.

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