RadioOnFire.com – A day after prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence former Mayor Catherine Pugh to nearly five years in prison and disclosed more information about her criminal activity, Pugh’s defense asked the court to sentence her to a year and a day in prison.
The filings come ahead of her sentencing on wire fraud and tax evasion charges related to her sales of “Healthy Holly” books.
Defense attorneys highlighted Pugh’s background and successes in teaching, publishing and television. The filing also highlights her career in public office, which began in 1999 when the City Council elected her to fill a vacancy created by then-Councilwoman Sheila Dixon’s election as City Council president. Pugh unsuccessfully challenged Dixon for the council presidency in 2004, then was appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to fill a House of Delegates vacancy.
Attorneys highlight her accomplishments and nonprofit board memberships while omitting her longtime membership on the board of the University of Maryland Medical System. Pugh sold thousands of books to the system, books that were supposed to be donated to city schools but were never part of the city curriculum.
“Ms. Pugh’s accomplishments for the City exceeded those of even the most dedicated public servants,” defense attorneys wrote. “She spearheaded many different initiatives and achieved major permanent accomplishments for Baltimore City that have made the City safer, brought residents closer, increased the City’s revenue, and created amazing places for students to learn and grow.”
The filing mentions her role in the founding of the Baltimore Marathon and her role in passing the city polystyrene ban and renovating the Shake and Bake Entertainment Center.
Attorneys wrote that while the charges to which Pugh pleaded guilty “are very serious,” they stress that her conduct did not involve violence, guns, drugs or danger to the community and that Pugh never set out to hurt others. They maintained that “many books sold to purchasers” were delivered to children and that Pugh regularly used the books in school visits.
People close to Pugh wrote letters of support. Some of these letters were quoted in the filing.
“One thing is certain from interactions I have had with Catherine Pugh: she understands the tremendous mistake she made which has resulted in the loss of the job she has coveted for years,” wrote Morgan State University President David Wilson. “Her mistake has taken a toll on her health and her overall well-being.”
Attorneys argue that based on her clean criminal record and life story, she deserves leniency.
“Despite the tremendously embarrassing sequence of events that form the basis of the charges in this case, Ms. Pugh is determined to again be a strong contributor to her community,” attorneys wrote. “She is an amazing person who has accomplished more in her 69 years of life than most could in a hundred lifetimes. But even good people make bad decisions and none of us should be judged by our worst act on our worst day.”
The filing includes an almost entirely redacted section on the psychological impact the case has had on Pugh.
“Ms. Pugh has become a tragic figure — an inspiring person dedicated to helping her community who is now a disgraced, unemployed felon, and who has lost everything that she had,” attorneys wrote.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 27.