- Associated Press - Monday, January 18, 2021

BALTIMORE — A former Baltimore mayor serving a three-year prison sentence stemming from a public corruption scandal is among the people hoping for clemency from President Donald Trump before he leaves office.

Catherine Pugh, 70, is seeking commutation of the prison sentence she began serving in June.

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

Prosecutors accused her of double-selling the books, keeping many for self-promotion purposes and failing to deliver them to institutions they were purchased for, including Baltimore public schools. Pugh used the proceeds to fund straw donations to her mayoral campaign and to buy and renovate a house.

Authorities said Pugh earned at least $345,000 in income in 2016 through sales of her books but failed to 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 distributed to schoolchildren. Some 60,000 of those books were sent to a city warehouse and a Pugh office where thousands were removed to give to other customers. Prosecutors say Pugh never delivered the other 40,000 books that the health system purchased.

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