Baltimore mayor’s home, city hall offices under raid by FBI amid book scandal
For the first time, the federal government has indicated it is investigating the mayor who is under heavy scrutiny over payment she got from a local health system for a children's book
Federal agents raided the home of embattled Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh, offices in Baltimore City Hall and several other locations around the town, spurring further calls for the mayor to resign after a scandal has roiled her tenure.
FBI spokesperson Dave Fritz confirmed to The Baltimore Sun that agents from the Baltimore FBI office and the Washington IRS office were executing search warrants at those locations Thursday morning, including the office of Pugh’s attorney Steven Silverman, as well as at least three other addresses associated with Pugh. It was the first confirmation that federal authorities, as well as state officials, were investigating the mayor’s activities.
Pugh has been on leave claiming to be recovering from a bout of pneumonia, but acting mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young has been in her place. He recently fired three of Pugh’s staffers, Gary Brown Jr., Poetri Deal and Afra Vance-White. The three were also board members of the Maryland Center for Adult Training where Pugh once led. Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, told the Sun, that Young was not aware of the raids ahead of time and was not sure if the three staffers he fired were under investigation.
Pugh, 69, is being investigated for the sales of her self-published children’s book, “Healthy Holly.” According to The Sun, Pugh was paid $500,000 by the University of Maryland Medical System for 100,000 of the books to distribute to schoolchildren, a no-bid arrangement she made while she was still on the hospitals unpaid network board.
While Kaiser Permanente was looking for a lucrative deal to provide health insurance to city employees, they paid Pugh more than $100,000 to buy about 20,000 copies of her books. The Sun reported that other companies looking to do business with the city also cut checks to Pugh for her books.
City Hall insiders who work with Pugh were caught surprised by the raids. Baltimore comptroller Joan M. Pratt told The Sun that agents had not contacted her. Also city solicitor Andre Davis said he was not aware of any searches before they happened. “I’m hoping they’ll leave a copy of the warrant,” he said to reporters, noting that he would make it public if he gets access to it. “If I get it, you got it.”
Political officials throughout Maryland have called for Pugh’s resignation, including Gov. Larry Hogan.
“On April 1, I directed the state prosecutor to investigate the disturbing allegations surrounding Mayor Catherine Pugh’s questionable financial dealings with the University of Maryland Medical System,” Hogan said on Thursday. “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.”
Apparently the entire Baltimore City Council has also lost faith in her, as well as several legislators in Maryland’s House of Delegates.
“Mayor Pugh should resign immediately. Baltimore needs to move forward and heal from this embarrassment. Baltimore is a great and resilient city, but we can’t waste anymore time on this issue,” said Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, in a statement issued to The Sun. “There are many important issues in front of us that require the complete attention of a full-time mayor. Our focus must continue to be fighting crime and improving the schools in our city.”