The disgraced former mayor of Baltimore was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday for arranging fraudulent sales of her self-published children’s books to nonprofits and foundations to promote her political career and fund her run for the city’s highest office, the AP reports. Catherine Pugh spoke through tears for about 10 minutes before her sentencing in federal court in Baltimore. The 69-year-old veteran Democratic politician apologized and said that “no one is more disappointed than me.” The scandal has shaken Maryland's largest city, which for years has struggled with grinding poverty, political mismanagement, record crime rates and police abuses that led to massive riots. And it made a mockery of Pugh's inaugural promise to restore trust in Baltimore's leaders.
Pugh was elected mayor in 2016 and resigned under pressure in May as authorities investigated bulk sales of her “Healthy Holly” paperbacks, which netted her hundreds of thousands of dollars in a scheme carried out over more than seven years, starting when Pugh was a state senator. Federal authorities accused Pugh of double selling the books, keeping many for self-promotion purposes and failing to deliver them to institutions they were purchased for, including the Baltimore City Public Schools. Pugh used the proceeds to fund straw donations to her mayoral campaign and buy a new house. Pugh was also sentenced on Thursday to serve three years of supervised release after getting out of prison and was ordered to pay more than $411,000 in restitution and to forfeit more than $669,000 to the government. She pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges in November. (Read more Catherine Pugh stories.)