Former Mayor Catherine Pugh was charged with one count of perjury by the Office of the State Prosecutor today because she did not disclose her “Healthy Holly” children’s book business while serving as a state senator.
In a release, Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard said Pugh did disclose other business relationships she was a part of, but she did not make any reference to Healthy Holly, LLC, the company she created to self-publish books on healthy living that were to be distributed to children.
Howard’s office alleges Pugh earned at least $345,000 in book sales in 2016 but did not put this information on financial disclosure forms. Those files are submitted to the Maryland State Ethics Commission and signed under the penalty of perjury, the release said.
According to the charging documents, Pugh first opened a bank account in 2012 for Health Holly, LLC, a company she registered the year before. She earned $100,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System, $7,500 from the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund and $500 from Riverside Health of Maryland Inc., prosecutors say. She did not disclose that income, they allege, and failed to do so in subsequent years.
“Transparency from our elected officials is an essential aspect of protecting Maryland residents from corruption and political malfeasance,” Howard said in a statement. “Our office is committed to ensuring that those who abuse positions of trust in our state and local governments are held accountable by the State of Maryland.”
It was also in 2016 that Pugh ran for mayor of Baltimore, edging out former Mayor Sheila Dixon in the Democratic primary in April. She went on to win the general election in November.
As federal prosecutors outlined in a November indictment, Pugh would solicit purchases from local organizations and then have the book orders delivered to Baltimore City Schools or handed out at events. Most notably, Pugh was able to get orders from the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sat, and Kaiser Permanente, an insurance provider for city employees.
In some cases, federal prosecutors said, Pugh’s aides would take copies from a previous order and package them into another one. In others, no books were printed at all.
City schools determined the books were not suitable for classroom use–initial copies were filled with spelling and grammatical errors–so some copies were sent home with students. Many more sat in a warehouse used by the school system.
Pugh, meanwhile, would use the money for her political campaigns, all while avoiding to pay taxes to the IRS.
Pugh pleaded guilty to four of 11 counts, including charges of conspiracy and tax evasion.
Howard’s office said the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI and Baltimore Office of the Inspector General assisted with this new charge.
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