Catherine Pugh the former Democrat mayor of Baltimore has been indicted for fraud in connection with funding of her children’s book series.
Federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment accusing former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh of using her series of self-published children’s books to commit fraud, evade federal taxes and illegally boost her own political campaigns.
Pugh, 69, resigned in May after public outcry over a scandal involving hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Healthy Holly books that she sold to a nonprofit health care company. She was on the board of that company when she was a state senator, raising questions about self-dealing — and even about the existence of the books, which feature a young black girl who touts the benefits of nutrition and exercise. After Pugh was paid, thousands of books apparently were never delivered.
The 11-count federal indictment made public Wednesday reveals a fuller picture of what the government says was a scheme in which she collected payments from the books to line her own pocket, donate to her own political campaign and even buy a house. At the same time, authorities say, customers waited around for Healthy Holly books that never arrived.
Pugh now stands accused of federal crimes including multiple counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and tax evasion.