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Pugh decision expected Thursday, attorney says

Pugh decision expected Thursday, attorney says

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1.12.2017 BALTIMORE, MD- Mayor Catherine E. Pugh joined by U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to announce agreement on the Department of Justice Consent Decree concerning practices by the Baltimore Police Department. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)
Mayor Catherine Pugh is expected to announce her plans Thursday. She is under intense pressure to step down as a federal grand jury investigation, and other probes, examine her financial dealings. She has been on a medical leave of absence since April 1. (File Photo)

A decision about Mayor Catherine Pugh’s future will be announced Thursday, her attorney said Wednesday.

Steve Silverman will host a news conference at his downtown law office Thursday, he told reporters after meeting with the mayor at her Ashburton home for about 90 minutes Wednesday afternoon. Silverman did not offer any further details, including whether Pugh will be at the news conference.

“I intend to schedule a press conference tomorrow afternoon, and at that time I will be in a position to tell you what her intentions are moving forward,” Silverman told the news media gathered outside her house Friday.

The press conference will come one week after federal agents executed searches at multiple locations across Baltimore, including both of Pugh’s Ashburton homes and her City Hall office, related to her Healthy Holly LLC company.

In addition to the federal grand jury investigation, there are multiple probes underway by state and city entities.

Pugh has sold her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books to Kasier Permanente, which holds the contract for the city’s health plan, and the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sits.

Pugh sold $500,000 worth of the books to the $4 billion hospital network over the years even as she pushed legislation that would have benefited the regional system.

Books were also sold through Associated Black Charities, which holds multiple multimillion-dollar contracts to administer city funds.

Pugh took a leave of absence from her job as mayor starting April 2 due to an ongoing battle with pneumonia that Silverman said last week had developed into bronchitis.

Those illnesses left Pugh not lucid enough to make decisions, Silverman said last week.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young has been serving as ex officio, or acting, mayor in Pugh’s absence.

Pugh has faced mounting calls for her resignation, including from Gov. Larry Hogan and the entire city council, except for Young. Members of the city’s House delegation in the General Assembly and and the Greater Baltimore Committee regional business group also have called for her to step down.

In the first week after her leave of absence, she said, through aides, that she expected to return to the job. But that prospect now appears highly unlikely, given the status of her health, the multiple investigations into her financial dealings and the erosion of her political support.

Still, if she announces that she will return to the job, there appears to be no clear avenue for her to be removed in the near future. The city charter’s provisions for removal of a mayor are applicable only when a chief executive has been convicted of a crime.

Pugh’s term is up in 2020. Two candidates have declared their intention to seek the office while others are assessing their prospects.

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