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Former Baltimore Mayor Pugh moves from prison to local supervision

BALTIMORE — A former Baltimore mayor serving a three-year sentence for a self-dealing scandal over children’s books has left an Alabama federal prison for community confinement in the Baltimore area, the Bureau of Prisons confirmed Wednesday.

Catherine Pugh, 71, transferred out of the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Alabama, on Tuesday, and will be moved to a halfway house or be under house arrest, the bureau said in an emailed statement. The statement noted that the bureau doesn’t disclose specific locations or discuss the reasons for transfers.

Pugh entered the prison in Alabama in June 2020. Her release from confinement is currently set for January 2023, according to online court records.

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Pugh’s attorney, Steven Silverman, said in an email that he was not able to comment.

Pugh, a Democrat who served in the state Senate before her 2016 election to Baltimore mayor, resigned in 2019 as authorities investigated bulk sales of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. She pleaded guilty later that year to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges.

Prosecutors accused Pugh of double-selling the books, keeping many for self-promotional purposes and failing to deliver them to institutions for which they were purchased, including Baltimore public schools. She used the proceeds to fund straw donations to her mayoral campaign and to buy and renovate a house, according to authorities, who said Pugh earned at least $345,000 in 2016 through book sales, but didn’t mention her ownership in financial disclosure forms.

Pugh also admitted selling her books to the University of Maryland Medical System, where she had served as a board member. The system paid her $500,000 for 100,000 copies that were meant to be, but never were, distributed to schoolchildren, prosecutors said.