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Ex-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh not among 143 granted clemency by Trump

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh did not make the list of the 143 people granted clemency by President Donald Trump in the final hours of his presidency.

Trump, who leaves office at noon Wednesday when President-elected Joe Biden is inaugurated, also pardoned his former strategist, Steve Bannon, who is charged in connection with the misuse of funds raised to build a wall. In total, Trump issued 73 pardons and 70 commutations.

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Also failing to make the list, released shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, former Baltimore police commissioner and current sports talk radio host Edward T. Norris for his 2004 conviction.

Norris has long maintained that his 2004 plea to federal corruption and tax charges was coerced and that his case was politically motivated. He spent six months in federal prison.

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But Kodak Black, the friend of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, among those credited with appealing to Trump for clemency, won a commutation of his sentence for making a false statement on a federal document.

Another former big-city mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, also had his sentence commuted. The former Detroit mayor has served about seven years, according to the White House, for a racketeering and bribery scheme.

Pugh, 70, has served about seven months of a three-year sentence, at a prison in Alabama, after pleading guilty to fraud charges related to her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Pugh, a Democrat, had personally greeted the Republican president during one visit to Baltimore after his election in December 2016, though Trump later unleashed on the city, calling it rat-infested and corrupt during a tirade against the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Pugh held elected positions at the city and state level for two decades. Elected Baltimore mayor in 2016, she pleaded guilty three years later to charges related to a fraud scheme involving her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series.

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She failed to print thousands of copies, double-sold thousands more and took many others to use for self-promotion, according to federal prosecutors. Investigators also uncovered that she laundered illegal campaign contributions and failed to pay taxes.

Pugh’s political fall began when The Baltimore Sun revealed she had entered into a no-bid deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, where Pugh sat on the board of directors, to buy 100,000 copies of her sloppily published “Healthy Holly” books for $500,000.

She later resigned from the medical system board and as mayor amid several investigations into her finances and the book sales. In total, she netted more than $850,000, prosecutors say.

Pugh reported to an Alabama federal prison in June last year to begin serving her sentence. The prison has reported 62 inmates with positive COVID-19 tests during the pandemic, while many other facilities have hundreds of inmates who have tested positive. There are currently 11 inmates and eight staff members there with active COVID cases, according to data from the Bureau of Prisons.

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