Searches by FBI, IRS add to mayor’s woes

The News-Times - - NATION/WORLD - — As­so­ci­ated Press

Fed­eral agents raided the homes and City Hall of­fices of Baltimore’s em­bat­tled mayor on Thurs­day amid dra­mat­i­cally widen­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions to de­ter­mine whether she used bulk sales of her self-pub­lished chil­dren’s books to dis­guise kick­backs.

The mul­ti­ple early morn­ing searches pushed the lat­est po­lit­i­cal scan­dal for Mary­land’s largest city to a crescendo af­ter weeks of un­cer­tainty and mount­ing pressure for Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to step down.

The po­lit­i­cally iso­lated first-term mayor, who has long been an avid run­ner, slipped out of sight April 1, cit­ing de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health, just as the gov­er­nor called on the state pros­e­cu­tor to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of “self-deal­ing” by the em­bat­tled Demo­crat.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan joined calls for her im­me­di­ate res­ig­na­tion af­ter news broke of the Thurs­day morn­ing raids, as agents with the FBI and the IRS criminal di­vi­sion car­ried boxes of ev­i­dence out of her City Hall suite. Agents also scoured her two Baltimore homes, the home of an aide and a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion she once led.

The mayor’s at­tor­ney, Steve Sil­ver­man, said fed­eral agents came to his city law firm Thurs­day morn­ing to serve a sub­poena for her orig­i­nal fi­nan­cial records. They were di­rected to a se­questered area where Pugh’s doc­u­ments were kept, he said, and they did not seek any at­tor­ney-client priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ca­tions. And Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem spokesman Michael Schwartzbe­rg dis­closed that the med­i­cal sys­tem re­ceived a grand jury witness sub­poena seek­ing doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion re­lated to Pugh.

In re­cent weeks, Pugh’s frac­tured administra­tion has stag­gered from one crisis to an­other. Yet days be­fore announcing her de­par­ture on an in­def­i­nite leave of ab­sence she held a hastily or­ga­nized press conference where she called her no-contract book deals a well-in­ten­tioned but “re­gret­table mis­take.”

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