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OIG urges city to halt dealings with Pugh donor JP Grant

Posted at 1:01 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 13:20:25-04

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City's Inspector General on Tuesday released a report detailing behind the scenes business transactions between disgraced former Mayor Catherine Pugh and local businessman JP Grant.

Based on the report's findings, the OIG recommended the City terminate any current and future business with Grant and his company, Grant Capital Management, Inc.

Prior to being convicted and sentenced to three years in federal prison, prosecutors proved that in 2016, Grant illegally funneled three separate payments totaling $170,000 through Pugh's companies, Healthy Holly, LLC and 2 Chic Boutique. The reason for this was Grant had already reached the maximum amount of campaign donations permitted under current law.

Some of the money was gifted and/or donated by Grant under the guise that Healthy Holly books were being purchased.

But in reality, Pugh used the money to buy a home in the Ashburton neighborhood and to make illegal straw donations to her 2016 mayoral campaign.

Grant told investigators that he knew where the money was going and Pugh's intentions on how she was going to use it.

As Pugh was preparing to take over as Mayor, Grant's company was coming up for renewal of its master lease agreement with the city.

Such agreements help the city with large expenses over long periods of time including vehicles, telecommunication and lighting system equipment.

In December 2017, Grant's company was the only company awarded such a contract and only one of two bidders.

Grant's company never disclosed their dealings with Pugh on campaign finance forms as required by Maryland law, despite claiming they did on a false affidavit.

The OIG speculates the timing of Grant's last payment could have intended to buy political influence, which led the OIG to urge city leadership to halt its dealings with Grant.