BALTIMORE – A city entrenched with a high crime rate, a police commissioner’s office with a revolving door, and the appearance of failed leadership, now has more problems involving the mayor.
Two homes belonging to embattled Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh were searched Thursday by federal agents as part of a multi-site raid also encompassing City Hall and coming amid the ongoing investigation into Pugh’s half a million dollar book sale windfall.
Additionally, FBI and IRS agents searched the Maryland Center for Adult Training, where Pugh once led a nonprofit job training program alongside three of her staffers; the office of Pugh’s attorney, Steven Silverman; and the home of Pugh staffer Gary Brown Jr., the Baltimore Sun reported.
Federal agents were seen carrying boxes Thursday morning entering the locations, where pictures also showed them surveying the grounds and taking pictures.
— Elijah Westbrook (@elijahwestbrook) April 25, 2019
FBI spokesman Dave Fitz confirmed to reporters outside the agency’s Baltimore office that agents from the Washington Field Office “executed court-authorized search warrants” at “both residences and City Hall.” However, he said he couldn’t reveal any more information as the search warrants were sealed.
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Since political figures often call for “transparency,” there is no word if the embattled mayor approves of the sealed court documents at this phase of the investigation or not.
Pugh’s defense attorney did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment, and her spokesman, James Bentley, told the Associated Press he had no immediate comment.
The Democratic mayor has faced mounting calls to resign after it was discovered she reportedly received $500,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System for her self-authored “Healthy Holly” children’s book series. She is currently on a leave of absence she’s blamed on pneumonia,
UMMS reportedly paid Pugh for 100,000 copies of her books between 2011 and 2018, while she was on its board, with the stated intention of distributing the books to schools and day care centers.
However, about 50,000 copies remain unaccounted for. Moreover, officials are trying to determine if they were ever printed in the first place.
Pugh took the indefinite leave of absence earlier this month on the same day Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requested a criminal investigation into the lucrative, but controversial book deal. Five of Pugh’s staffers have since gone on paid leave, too.
According to reports, the current City Council, every lawmaker in Maryland’s House of Delegates, the influential Greater Baltimore Committee business group and other prominent Maryland leaders have called on the first-term mayor to resign.
Pugh’s communications staff has said she intends to return to City Hall when she is feeling better, yet they have declined to provide a timetable.
Only a conviction can trigger a Baltimore mayor’s removal from office, according to City Solicitor Andre Davis, citing the state’s constitution. Baltimore’s mayor-friendly City Charter currently provides no options for ousting its executive.
“The charter is utterly silent on how long the leave can last, exactly what the reasons are for a leave,” Davis told reporters.
Pugh came to office in late 2016 after edging out ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon, who spent much of her own tenure fighting corruption charges before being forced to depart office in 2010 as part of a plea deal connected to the misappropriation of about $500 in gift cards meant for needy families, Fox News reported.
Currently, Pugh has not been indicted. Furthermore, it is unclear how long the current criminal investigation will take.