FBI and IRS Agents raided the homes and offices of embattled Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh who has been out on leave since a criminal investigation was launched into her business dealings. Pugh is facing calls to resign over a scandal that involves sales of her children's books to entities that do business with the city of Baltimore.
Pugh, a Democrat, is facing a criminal investigation by the state prosecutor's office, as well as probes by the Baltimore Inspector General, according to published reports.
The feds are trying to determine whether Pugh used sales of her children's books to disguise government kickbacks and bribes from business entities. Maryland's chief accountant described Pugh's deals to sell her books as "brazen cartoonish corruption."
Reporters stood by as federal agents carried boxes of evidence out of the mayor's office in City Hall and cordoned off her homes with yellow tape.
Dave Fitz, an FBI spokesman in the agency's Baltimore office, confirmed agents were scouring Pugh's homes and offices, as well as the home of a top aide and other places that can't be revealed because the search warrants are sealed.
City Council member Bannon Scott called the raids "an embarrassment to the city."
The scandal involves accusations that Pugh sold her "Healthy Holly" children's books to entities that do business with the city, including a health insurance company and the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board she sits while serving in her capacity as a mayor.
Sales of the books earned about $800,000, according to tax returns submitted by the mayor's limited liability company (LLC).
Pugh reportedly sold $500,000 worth of books to the $4 billion hospital network over the years. She then pushed for legislation that would have benefitted the hospital system.
Pugh hasn't been heard from since she took an extended leave of absence more than three weeks ago, citing health concerns following a bout with pneumonia.
Six of her staffers joined her on leave without explanation. On Wednesday, the acting mayor fired three of them.
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