She should get five years. The corruption of public officials is the worst!
Excerpts from the Article:
Federal prosecutors laid out an array of new details from their investigation into former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh in documents filed Thursday, as they argued she should receive nearly five years in prison for conspiracy and tax evasion.
The blistering, 37-page sentencing memorandum, accompanied by financial records and copies of checks, for the first time pinpointed the number of “Healthy Holly” children’s books Pugh sold — and resold. It outlined her efforts to conceal her dealings, including lying to FBI agents who came to her house to seize her cellphone.
It also raised further questions regarding the roles of city Comptroller Joan Pratt, who co-owned a business with Pugh that prosecutors say was used to launder an illegal campaign contribution and which filed a false tax return, and of a major city contractor who wrote out a check to that business in addition to buying Pugh’s books.
“The chronology of events since 2011, comprising Pugh’s seven-year scheme to defraud, multiple years of tax evasion, election fraud, and attempted cover-ups, including brazen lies to the public, clearly establishes the deliberateness with which she pursued financial and political gain without a second thought about how it was harming the public’s trust,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys Martin J. Clarke and Leo J. Wise.
“It was not rash behavior. Rather, it was a recurring pattern of well-executed steps that built on each other, becoming more audacious and complex leading up to the mayoral election.”
Pugh, 69, was elected mayor in 2016. The Democrat resigned in May after federal agents raided her City Hall office and her houses. She reached a plea agreement in November with prosecutors and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 27 by U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow in Baltimore.
With the assistance of longtime legislative aide Gary Brown, prosecutors wrote, Pugh “methodically expanded her illegal scheme and managed to conceal it from state and federal authorities and, most important, the citizens she served.”
When Brown was charged in an earlier case with campaign finance violations, prosecutors said in the new memo, she hired an attorney for him and lied in public statements about what she knew about his charges. Brown pleaded guilty in 2017 in state court to funneling campaign donations to Pugh through relatives. Brown pleaded guilty in the latest case to fraud, conspiracy and tax charges. His attorney, Barry J. Pollack, said Thursday: “We are confident that the court will treat everyone involved fairly and will take great care in determining an appropriate sentence.”
The statement of facts accompanying Pugh’s plea in November described how Pugh defrauded businesses and nonprofit organizations out of nearly $800,000.
Prosecutors said Thursday that Pugh’s “personal inventory” of “Healthy Holly” books never exceeded 8,216 copies. But through a “three-dimensional” scheme, they say, she was able to resell 132,116 copies for a total of $859,960. She gave another 34,846 copies away. “Corporate book purchasers with an interest in obtaining or maintaining a government contract represented 93.6% of all ‘Healthy Holly’ books or $805,000,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also noted Pugh did not disclose her financial interests while in the state Senate before becoming mayor, as required by Maryland law. After The Baltimore Sun reported in March that Pugh did not disclose her $500,000 business relationship with the University of Maryland Medical System while on its volunteer board, she amended seven years of reports to the state ethics commission.
The document outlines how Pugh illegally solicited a campaign contribution from city contractor J.P. Grant, which prosecutors said was “laundered” through the consignment shop Pugh owned with Pratt, a fellow Democrat. Prosecutors said Grant wrote out a $20,000 check to Pugh, which he had his wife sign in the hope that doing so would draw less attention than signing it himself, and Pugh deposited it into the shop’s bank account.
Pugh used the money to make illegal “straw donations” to her campaign, and used the balance to cover the 2 Chic Boutique’s expenses, prosecutors say. In turn, authorities say, 2 Chic filed a false 2016 tax return that made no mention of receiving such funds. “The deposit was by far the largest in the small company’s history, and the company would have only survived a few more months without the benefit of that deposit,” prosecutors said. “In short, Pugh and her partners reported the expenses paid with the $20,000 deposit because it lowered their tax liability, but chose not to report the receipt of the $20,000 because it would have increased their tax liability.”
Included in the sentencing memorandum is a scene from an April raid on Pugh’s home. FBI agents came to seize, among other items, her personal cellphone. Prosecutors say Pugh handed over a red, city-issued iPhone, but investigators said they wanted her personal phone, a Samsung. She told them she had left it with her sister in Philadelphia. An agent then called the Samsung phone.
“Almost immediately, the agents heard a vibrating noise emanating from her bed. Pugh became emotional, went to the bed and began frantically searching through the blankets at the head of the bed. As she did so, agents (started) yelling for her to stop and show her hands,” prosecutors wrote. Pugh had grabbed the phone from underneath her pillow, and the agents took it from her. “Pugh’s lie and futile attempt to silence the phone to prevent its seizure is indicative of her lack of respect for the law and, more broadly, her past efforts to hide longstanding criminal misconduct,” prosecutors wrote.