News outlets have reported that former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been indicted on charges involving fraud, federal tax evasion and illegally boosting her political campaign in conjunction with a series of children’s books she recently published.
Pugh is accused of selling hundreds of thousands of dollars for copies of her Healthy Holly books to a health care company whose board she sat on while serving as a Maryland state senator. After she was paid, thousands of the books never surfaced.
The 11-count federal indictment states that Pugh formed a company whose only goal was to receive kickbacks disguised as sales of the books, which tell the stories of a young African American girl who promotes the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
The sales from the non-existent books were illegally channeled to her political campaign through a straw company, and was used for personal gain, including a home. For the tax year 2016, Pugh claimed her taxable income was $31,020 and the tax due was $4,168. However, her taxable income was actually $322,365, and she approximately owed $102,444.
The federal government is hoping to seize a house owned by Pugh valued at $770,000. Meanwhile, Pugh’s attorney claims that she is physically and mentally unable to make “major decisions.” If convicted, she could serve up to one hundred years in prison.