/Former mayor indicted in childrens book scheme

Former mayor indicted in childrens book scheme

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was indicted on numerous federal charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud and tax evasion in an alleged scheme involving the publishing of her children’s books, officials announced Wednesday.

Pugh, 69, allegedly defrauded customers of Healthy Holly books, a company she owned, for her own political and personal gain, including funding her mayoral run, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In all, she earned $800,000 for book deals that Maryland’s chief accountant called “brazen, cartoonish corruption,” according to The Associated Press.

She is also accused of using funds from sales of fraudulently obtained Healthy Holly books to purchase, and then renovate, a house in Baltimore City, according to the statement.

PHOTO: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh addresses a gathering during the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston, June 8, 2018. Charles Krupa/AP, FILE
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh addresses a gathering during the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston, June 8, 2018.

Federal prosecutors claim that Pugh went about defrauding her customers in multiple ways, including not delivering books after they had been paid for.

She is accused of conspiring in the scheme with former Baltimore City employee Gary Brown, who was charged with and later convicted of violating Maryland’s election laws in January 2017.

All the while, according to federal prosecutors, she was evading taxes on the income she received from the sales. In 2016, she allegedly claimed her income was $31,020 and the tax due was $4,168, when in fact, Pugh’s taxable income was $322,365, with an income tax due of approximately $102,444.

“The people of Maryland expect elected officials to make decisions based on the public’s best interests, not to abuse their office for personal gain,” Jennifer Boone, special agent of the FBI’s Baltimore Division, said in a statement. “The indictment alleges that Catherine Pugh betrayed the public’s trust.”

The grand jury indictment was handed down on Nov. 14 and made public Wednesday. She faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two counts of tax evasion.

Pugh, who resigned as Mayor in May, is expected to turn herself in to the U.S. Marshals before for initial court appearance and arraignment on Thursday.

She could not be reached by ABC News.