She pled guilty to tax evasion concerning the sale of her children’s book
Pugh is the second black woman mayor forced from office in Baltimore
Today did not have a storybook ending for former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, children’s book author, and now an admitted tax cheat.
Pugh on Thursday pled guilty to four charges after the U.S. Attorney for Maryland indicted her for tax fraud early this month involving false reporting of the sale of her children’s book “Healthy Holly: Exercising is Fun.”
Pugh is the second black woman mayor of “Charm City” (Baltimore) forced to resign from office because of criminal activity.
In a soft voice, Pugh pled guilty. A native of Philadelphia, she attended Overbrook High School, graduating in 1967. Actor Will Smith, NBA great Wilt Chamberlin and Guion Bluford, the first black astronaut to fly into space, also graduated from Overbrook.
She was and the first in her family to attend college. Pugh attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, but it is not known if she graduated. During a hearing, Pugh acknowledged she might spend many years behind bars.
She was released on her own recognizance. U.S. Court Judge Deborah K. Chasanow has scheduled sentencing for February 27, 2020, at 10a.m.
A federal grand jury indicted the 69-year-old Pugh on conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of tax evasion.
The indictment was returned November 14, 2019, and unsealed November 20, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.
Pugh pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of tax evasion conspiracies by concealing illegally high profits from bulk sales of her children’s books titled “Healthy Holly.” She also pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced Thursday.
“Catherine Pugh betrayed the public trust for personal gain,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur.
According to the indictment, she filed false federal income tax returns underreporting her income.
The indictment charged that in 2016, Pugh claimed her income was $31,000, and the tax due was $4,168, when, in fact, Pugh’s taxable income was $322,365 with income tax due of approximately $102, 444.
Pugh, Baltimore’s 50th mayor and the third black woman to hold the city’s top elected office since 2009, resigned May 2, 2019. A judge swore Pugh into office on December 6, 2016 after she won 57 percent of the vote on November 8, 2016.
Her resignation followed Baltimore Mayor Sheila Ann Dixon, the city’s 48th mayor, who stepped down. Dixon resigned from office on December 1, 2009, after a jury found her guilty of fraudulent misappropriation.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became Baltimore’s third black woman mayor when Dixon resigned. Rawlings-Blake was the city’s 49th mayor.
Rawlings-Blake served as Baltimore’s mayor from January 22, 2013, to February 25, 2017. In 2016, she announced that she would not seek re-election.
Between June 2011 and August 2017, Pugh wrote and published four “Healthy Holly” paperback books.
The federal indictment charged that from November 2011 until March 2019, Pugh and employees Gary Brown, Jr., 38, and Roslyn Wedington, 50, conspired to defraud purchasers to enrich themselves, promote Pugh’s political career and fund her campaign for mayor.
The fraud involved accepting payments for the books, but not delivering them, receiving payments for the books to be delivered to a third party, and accepting payments for the books from a third party, double selling the books without the purchaser’s knowledge or consent.
Brown,38, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to commit wire fraud. Wedington pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to five counts of filing a false tax return. It’s not clear how much time she faces.