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US prosecutors seek nearly 5-year sentence for former Baltimore mayor

Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

Included in the sentencing memorandum is a scene from an April raid on her home. FBI agents came to seize, among other items, her personal cellphone. Prosecutors say Pugh handed over a red, city-issued iPhone, but investigators said they wanted her personal phone, a Samsung. She told them she had left it with her sister in Philadelphia.

An agent then called the Samsung phone.

"Almost immediately, the agents heard a vibrating noise emanating from her bed. Pugh became emotional, went to the bed and began frantically searching through the blankets at the head of the bed. As she did so, agents starting yelling for her to stop and show her hands," prosecutors wrote.

Pugh had grabbed the phone from underneath her pillow, and the agents took it from her.

"Pugh's lie and futile attempt to silence the phone to prevent its seizure is indicative of her lack of respect for the law and, more broadly, her past efforts to hide longstanding criminal misconduct," prosecutors wrote.

The document outlines how Pugh illegally solicited a campaign contribution from a city contractor, J.P. Grant, which was laundered through a consignment shop she owned with City Comptroller Joan Pratt. Prosecutors said Grant wrote out a $20,000 check to Pugh, which he had his wife sign in the hope that doing so would draw less attention than signing it himself, and Pugh deposited it into the shop's bank account.

Pugh used the money to make illegal straw donations to her campaign, and used the balance to cover business expenses for the 2 Chic Boutique, prosecutors say. In turn, authorities say, 2 Chic filed a false tax return that made no mention of receiving such funds.

 

"The deposit was by far the largest in the small company's history, and the company would have only survived a few more months without the benefit of that deposit," prosecutors said. "In short, Pugh and her partners reported the expenses paid with the $20,000 deposit because it lowered their tax liability, but chose not to report the receipt of the $20,000 because it would have increased their tax liability."

(The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Rector contributed to this article.)

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