The disgraced former mayor of Baltimore pleaded guilty Thursday to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges involving sales of her self-published children's books, a case that exposed anew the depths of corruption in Maryland’s largest city. Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government and two counts of tax evasion. She pleaded not guilty to seven counts of wire fraud that were included in the indictment unsealed a day earlier. The case centered on sales of her self-published Healthy Holly books to nonprofits and foundations to promote her political career and fund her run for mayor. Pugh, a veteran Democratic politician who was elected mayor in 2016, resigned under pressure in May.
Pugh faces up to 35 years in prison at her scheduled Feb. 27 sentencing. US Attorney Robert Hur said that she could be sentenced to about five years based on sentencing guidelines. Hur added that Pugh's admissions of guilt "demonstrated that she betrayed the trust placed on her." Pugh spoke only to answer questions from the judge, mostly resting her face on her hands and occasionally speaking with her attorney. "I do," the ex-mayor said after US District Judge Deborah Chasanow asked her whether she agreed that facts presented by prosecutors were true, including how books were shuffled from a city warehouse. Pugh silently walked out of the courthouse afterward, flanked by attorneys, before leaving in a waiting SUV.
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