Democrat Mayor of Baltimore Catherine Pugh has reportedly fled the state of Maryland in the midst of FBI and IRS raids on her home and office at City Hall. That’s not all, she and five of her staffers are on paid leave amid a scandal over sales of her children’s book “Healthy Holly,” even as Governor Larry Hogan has called on her to resign.
The Baltimore Sun reports:
Hauling out boxes of “Healthy Holly” books and documents, dozens of federal law enforcement agents Thursday struck businesses, homes and government buildings across Baltimore as an investigation into Mayor Catherine Pugh’s business dealings widened.
FBI agents and IRS officials executed search warrants at her City Hall office, Pugh’s two houses, and offices of the mayor’s allies, as the growing scandal consumed the city’s attention, generated national headlines and provoked fresh calls for the embattled Democratic mayor’s resignation.
“This is too much for our city,” Democratic City Councilman Zeke Cohen said. “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 agents from the Baltimore FBI office and the Washington IRS office searched at least six addresses. The U.S. attorney’s office confirmed the location of a seventh search. The actions were the first confirmation that federal authorities, as well as state officials, were investigating the mayor’s activities.
Pugh remained inside her Ashburton home during the raids, a police source confirmed. Pugh, 69, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Shortly after the raids began, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called on Pugh, who has taken a paid leave of absence as mayor, to resign. The Republican governor had asked the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor on April 1 to investigate Pugh’s sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was on its unpaid board of directors.
“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 the public trust. She is clearly not fit to lead. For the good of the city, Mayor Pugh must resign.”
FBI and IRS agents are executing search warrants in several locations related to Mayor Catherine Pugh
Here–her house in Northwest Baltimore. Also targeting a business address that is also used by non-profit she founded and City Hall pic.twitter.com/jr75Lve4ZG
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) April 25, 2019
NBC 4 reports:
The mayor’s attorney, Steve Silverman, said federal agents came to his city law firm Thursday morning to serve a subpoena for her original financial records. They were directed to a sequestered area where Pugh’s documents were kept, he said, and they did not seek any attorney-client privileged communications.
And University of Maryland Medical System spokesman Michael Schwartzberg disclosed that the medical system received a grand jury witness subpoena seeking documents and information related to Pugh.
For years, Pugh had somehow negotiated lucrative deals to sell her “Healthy Holly” books to customers that included the hospital network she once helped oversee and a major health plan that does business with the city. She sold $500,000 worth of the illustrated paperbacks to the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sat for nearly 20 years. She also made $300,000 in bulk sales to other customers including two major health carriers that did business with the city.
The revelation of a major federal investigation comes amid a criminal investigation by the state prosecutor’s office, which probes public corruption in Maryland. Other probes include a review by the city ethics board and the Maryland Insurance Administration.
CBS Baltimore also reported that at least six locations were raided: City Hall, Pugh’s home on Ellamont Avenue, Pugh’s second home on Dennlyn Avenue, Pugh’s attorney’s office, the Maryland Center for Adult Training and Pugh’s former aide Gary Brown Jr.’s home.
However, it appears that Mayor Pugh has “left the building.”
“[N]o one has seen the mayor and her own spokesperson doesn’t know where she is even though she’s supposed to be recovering from pneumonia,” according to WJZ13. “However, a source tells WJZ however Pugh was at her home when the raid began, but has since left the state.”
Big League Politics reported:
Pugh is currently being investigated by the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office in connection to sales of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. On April 1, she announced that she would be taking a leave of absence for “health reasons” as the scandal grew.
“The Baltimore Sun reported last month that Pugh was paid $500,000 by the University of Maryland Medical System for 100,000 of the books to distribute to schoolchildren,” according to Thursday’s Baltimore Sun report. “The no-bid arrangement was made while she was on the hospital network’s unpaid board. Health provider Kaiser Permanente later acknowledged that it paid Pugh more than $100,000 to buy about 20,000 copies of her books during a period when the company was seeking a lucrative contract to provide health insurance to city employees.”
Honestly, Pugh appears as if she is on some form of medication. I wonder if that will prove to be fatal in this situation.
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