Embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh was greeted at her home on Thursday morning by about a dozen FBI agents along with IRS officials executing a series of search warrants on the mayor’s two homes her City Hall office, along with the mayor’s cronies stemming from an alleged fraudulent book scam involving bogus sales, which netted the mayor a cool ½ million dollars.
Agents were seen hauling out boxes of the mayor’s books titled “Healthy Holly,” a series of children books she authored, and reportedly selling them since 2011 to the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) receiving in the neighborhood of $500,000, the mayor has also allegedly “sold” her self-published books to other companies.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the university paid Mayor Pugh for 100,000 copies of her books between 2011 and 2018. The series was designed as a healthy lifestyle children’s book emphasizing good health with the intent if being distributed to daycare centers around the city.
However, the Baltimore Sun reported that over 50,000 copies remain unaccounted for and perhaps never printed.
The growing scandal has once again put Baltimore in the national spotlight reminding us once again of the cities checkered past of incompetence, corruption and violence.
Democratic City Councilman Zeke Cohen said, “This is too much for our city. It puts all of us under a tremendous strain, and again it is not fair either to the people that live here or the people that work here.”
Dave Fitz, an FBI spokesman, confirmed that agents from the Baltimore FBI office and the Washington IRS office searched at least 6 addresses. The U.S. attorney’s office confirmed the location of a 7th search.
Shortly after the raids began, Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called on the embattled mayor to resign, however thus far Mayor Pugh has ignored the governor’s request, instead of taking a paid leave of absence.
The issue began when rumors circulated regarding the alleged scam, which caught the governor’s attention deciding at that point to ask the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor on April 1st to look into those rumors, and that’s when Pugh’s sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series to the University of Maryland Medical System came to light.
“Today, agents for the FBI and the IRS executed search warrants at the mayor’s homes and offices,” Hogan said. “Now, more than ever, Baltimore city needs strong and responsible leadership. Mayor Pugh has lost public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”
Under the city charter, there’s no way to remove Pugh from office unless she’s convicted of a crime.
The Baltimore Sun reported that the FBI and IRS also raided the Maryland Center for Adult Training, where Pugh once led a nonprofit job training program alongside three of her staffers, including Pugh’s attorney, Steven Silverman.
After visiting the embattled mayor at her home Thursday afternoon, Silverman acknowledged that Pugh is in “poor health and not lucid enough” to decide whether to step down as mayor.
Stating “All I do is give options. There are several options available to her. That’ll be up to her.”
Adding, “We will continue to vigorously defend the mayor, who is entitled the presumption of innocence.”
City historians said the raid at City Hall appeared to be unprecedented in Baltimore’s annals.