Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh made her debut back in the public eye Monday following her recent release from an Alabama federal prison.
For the next two weeks, Pugh is filling in as a guest host for Larry Young, a former state senator, on his WOLB 1010 AM program, “The Larry Young Morning Show,” the radio station announced Saturday. Young is out recovering from a medical procedure.
Pugh, 72, did not discuss her 19-month incarceration for conspiracy, perjury and tax evasion stemming from a self-dealing scheme involving her “Healthy Holly” children’s books during the show. Some callers, however, acknowledged the elephant in the room by welcoming the former mayor back to Baltimore and expressing that her temporary gig on the radio show is a great “landing spot.”
Pugh kicked off Tuesday’s show addressing a racially motivated mass shooting on Saturday in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 Black people, as well as a Sunday shooting in Southern California, where a man opened fire at a church lunch reception.
“We’ve had so many shootings,” said Pugh, noting too the gun violence that also plagues Baltimore.
She attributed the violence to young people on the streets.
“We want our young people off the streets,” she said. “They want to do other things. They want to go to work.”
She went on to promote a city initiative to connect young Baltimore residents with summer jobs and highlighted Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2023 capital budget before talking to guest speakers including a co-founder from the local group Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters.
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Pugh’s temporary radio show gig is likely the beginning of her public appearances after a quiet homecoming. She returned to Baltimore this winter after she was transferred from Aliceville Federal Prison, a low-security facility in Alabama, to a local reentry management office. She was released less than two years into a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in November 2019 to conspiracy and tax evasion.
“She’s very well-connected and knows a lot about the city and the county,” said Howard Mazer, WOLB’s general manager, in a statement announcing Pugh as a fill-in morning host for the show that airs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Pugh served as Baltimore mayor from 2016 to 2019 until she resigned as mayor amid investigations into her finances and the sales of her self-published book. She also resigned from the board of directors for the University of Maryland Medical System after The Baltimore Sun revealed she had entered into a no-bid deal with the medical system to buy 100,000 copies of her children’s book for $500,000.
Prosecutors said she made more than $850,000 off the book, but failed to print thousands of copies and double-sold thousands more. Investigators also alleged that she laundered illegal campaign contributions and failed to pay taxes.
Pugh served about a decade in the General Assembly before she was elected mayor in late 2016. In a May interview with The Afro, Pugh discussed her time as a prison cook, her experience enduring a monthslong lockdown at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and her possible plans to help guide incarcerated people reentering society based on her own experience.
Pugh declined through her attorney to an interview with The Sun.
Reporter Ngan Ho contributed to reporting.