Former Mayor Pugh apologizes to residents of Baltimore in video on eve of sentencing: ‘I really messed up’

On the eve of her sentencing on federal fraud and tax charges, former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is apologizing for her conduct in a video submitted by her attorneys to the court.

“I accept responsibility,” Pugh says in the 13-minute video. “I accept total responsibility. I’ve pled guilty. And I’m sorry. I don’t know any other words that could be strong. I am so sorry.”


Update: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh sentenced to 3 years for ‘Healthy Holly’ children’s book fraud scheme

The conclusion of the video shows Pugh, with her hands clasped in front of her face, with a voice-over of her saying: “When I think about me and my capacity and my capabilities and all of the things I’ve been able to do, I said, ‘How did you end up here? How did you mess this up?’”


“I messed up. I really messed up.”

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, Paul Coates (left), publisher of Black Classic Press, and  attorney Steve Silverman arrive at the federal courthouse downtown for Pugh's sentencing on federal fraud and tax charges.

The comments are the most expansive yet from Pugh herself on the scandal in nearly a year.

After a news conference in late March in which she apologized for upsetting the people of Baltimore with her deals to sell her “Healthy Holly” books to organizations with business before the city and the state, she disappeared from view. When she resigned in May, her attorney read a brief statement from Pugh in a 96-second news conference, and at her plea hearing in November, she only spoke to give brief answers to U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow.

Pugh is asking the judge to sentence her Thursday to a prison term of one year and one day as a result of her guilty plea to conspiracy and tax evasion in a fraud scheme involving the self-published children’s books.

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Andrew C. White, one of Pugh’s attorneys, said Pugh still plans to address the court on Thursday, but he said the video was produced to underscore her life and accomplishments, as well as her remorse.

“Catherine has done so much in her life, an amazing amount of wonderful things that frankly can’t be captured adequately on paper,” said White, a former federal prosecutor.

Prosecutors are asking for nearly five years in prison for the Democrat, who served 19 years in various elected positions, including on the City Council and in the state Senate.

The video was submitted Wednesday to the court. Defense attorneys have also filed more than 70 letters of support from members of the community, asking Chasanow to take note of Pugh’s service to the community and show leniency.


Pugh, 69, recounts her upbringing in Philadelphia and journey to Baltimore, and highlights her accomplishments in business and through public office. Longtime friend Paul Coates also appears, saying “I have to go back and constantly remind her of all of the good things.”

Pugh apologizes to “the citizens, to young people, to partners, my friends — everyone I’ve offended," as well as for hurting the “city’s image.”

“Being involved in all of this that has led me here today has created such a ringing negativity on our city," she says.