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Former Baltimore mayor enters guilty pleas in fraud case

Brian Witte and Regina Garcia Cano
Associated Press

Baltimore – The disgraced former mayor of Baltimore pleaded guilty Thursday to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges in a case involving sales of her self-published children’s books.

Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government and tax evasion. But she pleaded not guilty to wire fraud. The pleas came a day after an 11-count indictment was unsealed.

The case involves sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” books to non-profits and foundations to promote her political career and fund her run for mayor. Pugh, a Democrat who was elected in 2016, resigned under pressure in May.

In this Dec. 6, 2016 file photo, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh gives a thumbs-up to supporters after her inauguration ceremony inside the War Memorial Building in Baltimore.

A federal grand jury indictment returned on Nov. 14 also charged two Pugh associates, Gary Brown, Jr., and Roslyn Wedington, who have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud.

Pugh became Baltimore’s second mayor in less than a decade to step down because of scandal. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon left office in 2010 as part of a plea deal for misappropriating about $500 in gift cards meant for needy families.

The charges against Pugh came as the city has struggled violent crime and other cases of public corruption, as well as a major police scandal. The city has had more than 300 homicides for five years in a row.