Federal investigators who raided Baltimore City Hall late last month took about two dozen items, including copies of then-Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” books, a check from the University of Maryland Medical System and other materials related to Pugh and one of her closest aides.
In a separate subpoena, they requested documentation from the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development about the Maryland Center for Adult Training, a nonprofit organization that Pugh helped lead for years.
FBI agents along with Internal Revenue Service investigators entered Pugh’s offices — and her two houses, the apartment of her aide Gary Brown Jr. and the office of MCAT, among other places — on April 25.
On Wednesday, the city released receipts for 22 items removed from City Hall, including various documents, a computer, an iPad and five CDs. Investigators also took settlement paperwork for Pugh’s purchase of her home in Ashburton shortly after becoming mayor in 2016 and a $100,000 check to her company, Healthy Holly LLC, from the medical system.
Her attorney, Steven Silverman, declined to comment.
The city also released a copy of a subpoena for MCAT documents held by the Office of Employment Development, which it requested be delivered May 30 to a grand jury meeting at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Pugh, a Democrat, resigned as mayor last week. She apologized in a statement for the harm she has caused to the city’s image amid a growing scandal over about $800,000 in sales of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series to UMMS, where she was an unpaid board member, and to other entities with business before the city, including health insurer Kaiser Permanente.
Pugh publicly produced evidence for printing only enough books to cover about $300,000 worth of the UMMS contracts. She returned $100,000 of the $500,000 she received from the quasi-public hospital system.
Amid concerns over UMMS’ contracting practices and no-bid contracts awarded to board members, the system’s CEO and board chairman have resigned, as have four other board members, including Pugh. The medical system has said it, too, received a subpoena for material relating to Pugh’s business deals.
Among the items the FBI seized from City Hall were documents related to Kaiser, which paid Pugh more than $100,000 for books. The company previously said that its purchase of Pugh’s books had nothing to do with its securing business with the city, which it has had for decades. On Wednesday, a spokesman said the company could not comment on any subpoenas it may have received in the case, but “will, of course, cooperate fully with investigations of this matter.”
The federal agents also seized timesheets for Brown, the Pugh aide whose apartment was raided. Brown pleaded guilty last year to violating campaign finance laws by funneling cash through relatives to Pugh’s mayoral campaign. He is also an MCAT board member.
The FBI seized a notebook with financial information about the mayor’s “Squeegee Corps” program to hire kids who wash windshields at city intersections for tips. Records previously obtained by The Baltimore Sun showed Grant Capital Management was the largest single contributor to an account at the Baltimore City Foundation labeled "Squeegee Corps," donating $50,000 on Aug. 31, 2018. The company also paid Pugh $100,000 for Healthy Holly books, but company boss J.P. Grant has said he did not know what was done with the money.
The FBI also seized 2013 and 2014 tax filings related to the Family League of Baltimore. Demaune Millard, the organization’s president and CEO, said Wednesday that he had “no idea” why investigators would be interested in those documents, which are a matter of public record.
“Why is there a particular need to review any [Family League] documents in relation to the case dealing with the former mayor is news to any of us,” Millard said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson signed the warrant authorizing the searches at City Hall. The online system for federal court records said that documents related to the searches were sealed.
The Sun reported Wednesday that MCAT has filed documents with Maryland regulators listing three prominent city residents — a state senator, a former Baltimore Colts running back and a well-known attorney — as serving on its board of directors, which Pugh chaired for a decade. All three told the Sun they are not — and never have been — board members of the organization.
The subpoena sought any communications between Pugh, Brown and Roslyn Wedington, MCAT’s executive director. It also asked for tax records and other financial and personnel documents.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore declined to comment Wednesday.