BALTIMORE — Former Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh will be in federal court tomorrow for sentencing.
This is all the fallout from her Healthy Holly book deals which led to her pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion. Prosecutors want a five-year sentence but pleas from the public are asking for a reduced sentence.
More letters have been submitted to the federal judge. People who know Pugh admit while she did wrong, she is in no way wicked to her core.
There are more than 20 additional character reference letters, all with the same message. They're the latest letter praising Pugh. They come from church leaders and business leaders and lifelong acquaintances. They’re all addressed to Deborah Chasanow, the U.S. District Judge who’ll rule on Pugh’s sentence.
"She's a very smart judge,” said Andy Alperstein. “She's going to look at the evidence presented by the government and by the defense.
Alperstein is a legal analyst and defense attorney. He told WMAR-2 New the letters are part of a delicate plan by the defense team.
"Those letters are there to let the judge hear the good deeds Pugh’s done,” said Alperstein. “When’s she weighing it all out the goal is to pull the judge down so she gives a shorter sentence.”
Federal prosecutors requested Pugh receive a sentence of roughly five years. Like her defense team, those who know her want a shorter sentence. They’re hoping their written words have swaying power.
Pugh’s godson wrote to the judge, “My godmother is one of the most honest and hard-working people that has ever graced my life. If not for her I believe I would still be using drugs.”
Letters included prominent names like former mayor and University of Baltimore president Kurt Schmoke.
He wrote, about Pugh empowering and educating people on the importance of voting adding, “Whether as a private citizen or an elected official she encouraged people young and old to become involved in the political process.”
A letter from Baltimore Design School’s Betty Clark states how she witnessed Pugh feeding the homeless, paying for a stranger’s food and filling up someone’s gas take.
“These letters all serve a purpose,” said Alperstein. “They’re all from folks who have particular knowledge of specific acts of good deeds and public service that former mayor Pugh has done.
But is it enough to downplay her actions?
As we’ve reported, Pugh pled guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion related to the scandal involving the sale of her Healthy Holly children's books to the University of Maryland Medical System and other entities doing business with the city.
Even with the glowing references Alperstein believes the judge will send a stern message with jail time.
“If I was a betting man,” he said, “I would guess somewhere between18 months and three years.”