Baltimoreans woke up Thursday to the news that FBI agents were on the move across the city, raiding City Hall and Mayor Catherine Pugh’s homes — among other locations — amid what appeared to be a large investigation also involving the Internal Revenue Service.
The FBI confirmed its agents were executing search warrants at seven locations connected to Pugh or her top aides.
Baltimore City Hall
FBI and IRS agents were observed entering City Hall, the seat of municipal government, but it was unclear exactly where inside the building they were searching. FBI and IRS agents were seen entering the mayor’s office within the building.
City Hall is home to the mayor's office, the City Council president's office, the city comptroller's office and the offices of council members. It's also the site of the city law department, the finance department, the department of legislative reference and the inspector general's office.
Pugh’s current home
Pugh bought her current residence, in the 3400 block of Ellamont Road, for $117,500 just days after being sworn in as mayor in December 2016. FBI agents could be seen moving in and our of the home Thursday morning.
One FBI agent was seen taking a box labeled as containing “Healthy Holly” books out of the home. Pugh remained inside her home during the raids, a police source confirmed. Two of Pugh’s attorneys were also seen entering the home; they declined to comment.
Pugh’s second home
Before her move in 2016, Pugh lived nearby on Dennlyn Road, where she bought a home in 1998. The property was surrounded in yellow police tape on Thursday morning.
Pugh’s attorney’s office
Two men in suits with boxes waited Thursday morning in the office of Pugh’s attorney, Steven Silverman, managing partner of the prominent law firm Silverman Thompson Slutkin White. Silverman, an attorney who handles high-profile criminal litigation as well as civil litigation and appeals, and who has been a major political backer and donor to Pugh, said in a statement that federal agents served a “limited subpoena” at the law firm “for original financial records belonging to Mayor Catherine Pugh.”
He said the firm had the documents as part of its representation of Pugh during the investigation of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books. “The agents also did not seek or obtain any attorney-client privileged communications with the mayor, or any other information or documents from the firm or its clients,” Silverman said.
Maryland Center for Adult Training
FBI agents were observed at the location of the Maryland Center for Adult Training, a nonprofit job training program that Pugh once led and that has listed online three Pugh staffers as board member.
The nonprofit receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in city, state and federal government money as well as private grants to train and place individuals in nursing and medical technician jobs. Pugh has served as a member and chairwoman of the group’s board of directors, a position she disclosed in ethics forms when she was a state senator but which she has not disclosed since becoming mayor. Other board members include three of Pugh’s former staff members who have since been fired by acting Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young.
More than a dozen students who arrived for classes at the training center Thursday morning were surprised to find the center closed.
Gary Brown Jr.’s apartment
Brown was one of the Pugh staffers listed as a board member of the Maryland Center for Adult Training. He was fired from his job in the city’s lobbying office this week by Young.
Brown also worked for Pugh when she was in the state Senate, according to records obtained by The Baltimore Sun, and for her campaign for mayor. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a campaign finance charge — and received probation before judgement — after the state prosecutor’s office found he used bank accounts of relatives to donate $18,000 to Pugh’s mayoral campaign.
Afterward, Pugh called Brown a “good employee” and kept him on at City Hall.
Keith Timmons’ office
Keith Timmons, Pugh's former campaign treasurer and Young’s campaign treasurer since 2005, said law enforcement officials searched his office on Light Street "looking for Healthy Holly material."
Timmons signed the incorporation papers creating Healthy Holly LLC, and the office address listed for him in Healthy Holly LLC's state business records appears in some editions of the Healthy Holly books.
He didn’t know which agency the law enforcement officials at his office were from, he said in a phone interview.
The seven raids come amid a scandal involving Pugh, a Democrat, and nearly $800,000 in payments she has received in recent years for copies of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books from the University of Maryland Medical System, where she was a board member, and several other entities with business before the city.
Pugh has been unable to account for her business expenses related to her “Healthy Holly” book orders since The Baltimore Sun revealed them last month, and has acknowledged that some of the orders were never met.
Pugh took a leave of absence as mayor at the start of this month, citing a battle with pneumonia, but has repeatedly said her intention was to return to power.
Baltimore Sun reporters Ian Duncan, Doug Donovan, Colin Campbell, Tim Prudente, Talia Richman, Jessica Anderson and Sarah Meehan contributed to this article.