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Former mayor Pugh charged with perjury on state disclosure forms

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has been charged with perjury for allegedly failing to disclose her interest in her children’s book company on financial disclosure statements required during her time in the state legislature.

The Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor announced the charges Wednesday.

“Transparency from our elected officials is an essential aspect of protecting Maryland residents from corruption and political malfeasance,” State Prosecutor Charlton Howard III said in a statement. “Our office is committed to ensuring that those who abuse positions of trust in our state and local governments are held accountable by the State of Maryland.”

Pugh’s attorney Steven D. Silverman declined to comment on the state prosecutor’s charges Wednesday.

The charging documents, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, alleged that while serving as a state senator, Pugh was required to disclose her interests in Healthy Holly LLC, the company she formed to sell her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. The financial disclosure statement is filed with the Maryland State Ethics Commission and signed under the penalty of perjury.

Pugh earned at least $345,000 in income in 2016 through sales of the books, according to a news release from the state prosecutor, but she did not disclose her ownership of the company on financial disclosure forms.

The “Healthy Holly” scandal came to light after it was revealed that several members of the University of Maryland Medical System board had engaged in self-dealing. Pugh, a longtime member of the board, received $500,000 from the board starting in 2011 for her Healthy Holly books, though she later returned $100,000 for books that were never delivered.

Pugh was indicted on 11 counts for a years-long scheme to enrich herself and to fund her political campaigns by selling her children’s books to organizations that did business with the state and Baltimore city. She pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion on Nov. 21.

Pugh’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 27 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The maximum penalty is 20 years for wire fraud conspiracy and five years each for the remaining counts.

The state perjury charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The case is State of Maryland v. Catherine E. Pugh, C02CR192849.

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