By Donna Owens
BALTIMORE (Reuters) – Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty on Thursday to tax evasion and other federal charges related to sales of a self-published children’s book as part of an illegal scheme to fund her election campaign.
Pugh entered the plea on two counts of tax evasion, and one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. She pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud.
The charges stem from sales of the book, “Healthy Holly” to a charity where Pugh served on the board. Prosecutors allege Pugh disguised the proceeds as donations to her mayoral election campaign and used some of the money to help her to purchase and renovate a house.
The former mayor appeared in a packed court room in Baltimore on Thursday afternoon dressed fashionably in dark clothing and flanked by her attorneys.
Pugh was elected to a four-year term to lead the city of Baltimore in 2016 after gaining prominence as a state lawmaker during protests over the 2015 death of a 25-year-old black man, Freddie Gray, while in police custody.
She resigned earlier this year as public pressure mounted over her role in the “Healthy Holly” scandal.
(Reporting by Donna Owens in Baltimore; Additional reporting and writing by Maria Caspani; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Berkrot)