The "Healthy Holly" scandal has officially come knocking on Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's front door. Early Thursday morning, agents from the FBI and IRS executed search warrants on the embattled mayor's home and offices, presumably in connection to the growing scandal over the highly lucrative book deals she secured while in office and serving on key city boards.
"The FBI Baltimore office and IRS Criminal Division out of DC are executing search warrants at Pugh's home, a business address, an aide's home and Baltimore City Hall, an FBI spokesman said," NBC Baltimore affiliate WBAL-TV 11 reported Thursday.
Videos posted online show multiple FBI agents joined by at least one IRS agent converging on Pugh's northwest Baltimore home, which WBAL-TV says she purchased in December 2016, as well as another house she reportedly owns nearby.
"The agents have been seen entering and exiting the home, as well as garages, which may belong to the home, or a neighboring home. Agents retrieved a couple of large boxes from the garages," the outlet reports. "Around the corner, agents are serving a search warrant at the home where Pugh lived for many years, which is linked to the Healthy Holly scandal."
Multiple videos of the raid have been posted online by reporters, including WBAL-TV's Jennifer Franciotti and Fox45's Joy Lepola Stewart:
According to neighbors, Pugh has not been seen at her home in over a month, though Fox45 reported that she was "inside her house" at one point during the raid. Pugh has been on administrative leave over what she says are "health issues."
CNN reports that along with her northwest Baltimore home, the FBI has is also searching the home of her former aide Gary Brown and the office of a non-profit Pugh founded, the Maryland Center for Adult Training. This week, the acting mayor, Jack Young, fired three aides that were on the board of the non-profit, including Brown.
Agents have also converged on City Hall, WBAL-TV reporting the number of agents on the scene to be around 20.
Pugh and her private company have allegedly brought in around $700,000 for mass purchases of the mayor's self-published "Healthy Holly" book, a large percentage of that money ($500,000) coming from a deal with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). Pugh was a member of the board when they agreed to purchase a significant number of her books. Other highly questionable deals have since come to light along with claims that Pugh failed to disclose key information to the IRS.
The entire Baltimore City Council has since called for Pugh's resignation. "The myriad of investigations underway into the various business dealings involving the Mayor raise significant ethical and legal issues," said Councilman Eric Costello, in a statement issued along with several others from his fellow councilman. "It will be impossible for Mayor Pugh to govern effectively. Therefore, I have joined all my colleagues today in asking for the Mayor’s immediate resignation. This unprecedented step has not been taken lightly. While I fully support the notion of 'innocent until proven guilty,' I remain deeply concerned about the immeasurable toll this scandal has taken on the City of Baltimore and its citizens. Resignation will not solve every problem but Baltimore needs to heal, once again, and it cannot do so until the Mayor steps aside."