BALTIMORE, MD — Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to perjury Friday for failing to disclose she benefited from sales of her Healthy Holly children's books while serving as a Maryland state senator. She received a six-month sentence, according to prosecutors.
Pugh owned Healthy Holly LLC, which netted her $345,000 in income from sales in 2016.
The Maryland State Ethics Commission requires elected representatives and some state workers to file financial disclosure forms.
As a senator in the Maryland General Assembly from 2007 to 2016, Pugh filed paperwork that revealed her interests in other ventures but failed to include Healthy Holly LLC.
"Ensuring that our elected officials are transparent about their business relationships is essential to maintaining the integrity of our government institutions," Maryland State Prosecutor Charlton Howard said in a statement Friday. "Our office is committed to holding accountable those who evade the law and abuse positions of public trust in Maryland."
Pugh — who released four children's books from 2011 to 2017, with titles such as "Healthy Holly: Exercise Is Fun" and "Healthy Holly: Vegetables Are Not Just Green" — marketed the book almost exclusively to nonprofit organizations that had dealings with the government. She said her book series was intended to encourage kids to engage in healthy behaviors. From 2013 to 2016, she served on the Senate Health Committee.
When she was in office, Pugh netted more than half a million dollars in book deals from health care companies that did business with government entities. Pugh admitted she used proceeds from the book sales to fund her mayoral campaign and to buy and renovate a house in Baltimore.
She disclosed her interests in other companies such as 2 Chic Boutique LLC while in office but failed to disclose these, according to the Office of the State Prosecutor for Maryland:
- In 2016, Healthy Holly LLC earned at least $345,000, including $100,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System and $50,000 from Kaiser Permanente.
- In 2015, Healthy Holly LLC earned at least $100,000 in income through Healthy Holly books, including $100,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System.
- In 2014, Healthy Holly LLC earned at least $6,500 in income, including $6,500 fromCareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, passed through the Associated Black Charities.
- In 2013, Healthy Holly LLC earned at least $8,128 in income through Healthy Holly children’s books, including $4,448 fromthe Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, which was passed through the Associated BlackCharities.
Judge Mark W. Crooks sentenced Pugh on Friday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to serve six months in prison for perjury. It will run concurrent to her current federal sentence, which officials said would begin on June 26.
The federal sentence is for conspiracy to commit fraud and tax evasion. For that, Pugh was ordered to serve three years in prison followed by three years of probation, according to the U.S. District Attorney for Maryland. A federal judge also ordered Pugh to pay $411,948 in restitution and forfeit $669,688.
Pugh was supposed to report for prison in April but asked the government to give her an extension until the perjury case had been adjudicated in Anne Arundel County, noting it had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bureau of Prisons directed her to self-surrender no earlier than June 26.
Additionally, federal court filings show Pugh had asked for an assignment to a prison other than the one to which she has been assigned in Alabama.
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Here is the statement of facts related to the perjury case: