Catherine Pugh: Ex-Baltimore mayor handed three year prison term

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Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Catherine Pugh resigned as the scandal broke

Disgraced ex-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been jailed for three years for using revenue from fraudulent book sales to benefit her re-election bid.

Pugh apologised before her sentencing for the scheme, which saw hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks disguised as book sales.

She was also ordered to pay more than $1m (£775,000) in restitution.

Pugh, 69, resigned in May after FBI agents raided city hall and homes that she owned.

Pugh, a Democrat who was took office in 2016, pleaded guilty last November to conspiracy and tax evasion.

'Healthy Holly'

The crime centred on the mayor's Healthy Holly book series, which promotes healthy eating and exercise to primary-school aged children.

Prosecutors claimed that Pugh's scheme began seven years ago, when she was a Maryland state senator, and that she was assisted by two long-time aides. They are awaiting sentencing after also pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax charges.

Officials say Pugh sold the books to corporate buyers who had an interest in "obtaining or maintaining a government contract".

Sales were made to local health providers and schools, but in some cases the books were never delivered and actually sold for a second time.

Profits from book sales were funnelled to her mayoral campaign and also to buy a new house.

Image source, Amazon/Healthy Holly
Image caption,
Pugh earned hundreds of thousands of dollars through sales of Healthy Holly books to city entities

US Attorney Robert Hurr said Pugh's actions "undermine everyone's faith in government."

"This is a tragedy and the last thing our city needs," he said.

Outside the court, Pugh said: "I just want to apologise to the citizens, to young people, to partners, my friends, everyone I've offended".

"I accept total responsibility. I've pled guilty. I'm sorry."

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