Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was indicted Wednesday on 11 federal counts of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy in what prosecutors say was a corrupt scheme involving sales of a self-published children's book series.
Pugh sold 100,000 Healthy Holly books to the University of Maryland Medical System while she was on a state Senate committee that partly funded the private hospital network in 2011. She also sat on the hospital network's board and was paid $500,000, which prosecutors say represents a conflict of interest.
"Our elected officials must place the interests of the citizens above their own," U.S. Attorney Robert K Hur said in a statement. "Corrupt public employees rip off the taxpayers and undermine everyone's faith in government."
Pugh, 69, has since returned $100,000 for a shipment of books she said wasn't completed.
Another conflict occurred, the charges say, when Kaiser Permanente paid Pugh more than $100,000 for the Healthy Holly books while vying for a $48 million contract from a city board that Pugh controlled.
Prosecutors say she defrauded area businesses and nonprofit organizations of nearly $800,000 by enriching herself while promoting and funding her political ambitions.
"The people of Maryland expect elected officials to make decisions based on the public's best interests, not to abuse their office for personal gain," said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone. "The indictment alleges that Catherine Pugh betrayed the public's trust."
Pugh also faces tax evasion charges for reporting much lower incomes than she earned. The U.S. attorney's office said she owes the federal government $100,000 in unpaid taxes.
Pugh took an indefinite leave in April and ultimately resigned. Longtime City Council president Bernard C. "Jack" Young has been acting mayor since and plans to run for the post next year.