A federal judge agreed Thursday to early termination of former Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s probation related to her conviction in the “Healthy Holly” scandal.

In a request dated March 12, Pugh’s probation agent said she had made restitution payments far over what was ordered. She paid back $1,000 a month since April 2023, despite a court order calling for her to pay just $100 per month. She has paid $63,850 so far toward the $412,000 she has been ordered by the court to pay, the probation agent said.

The agent added that Pugh is working in a contract position at an anti-violence program at Morgan State University, and “demonstrates the ability to lawfully self-manage beyond supervision.”

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow signed the order Thursday, ending Pugh’s probation about a year early.

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Pugh, 74, was elected to the City Council in 1999, and served positions in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate. She was elected mayor of Baltimore in 2016.

She resigned in May 2019 amid questions about a children’s book she produced called “Healthy Holly,” which was marketed and sold directly to nonprofit organizations and foundations, many of whom did business or attempted to do business with the state and city. Among them was the University of Maryland Medical System, where Pugh served on the board of directors and nearly a third of the board’s members had business with the hospital network.

Pugh was indicted in November 2019, with federal prosecutors saying she had conspired with an aide to defraud purchasers of the book, including double-selling books that were never delivered. It was also uncovered that Pugh issued “Healthy Holly” checks for the purpose of funding straw donations to her election campaign.

She was also charged with evading income taxes.

Pugh pleaded guilty the next day and was later ordered to serve three years in federal prison, pay $411,948 in restitution and forfeit $669,688, including her home on Ellamont Road and $17,800 from her campaign committee. Her probation was to last three years following her release.

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“While I’ve done some good things, they will be overshadowed by the wrong I’ve done,” Pugh said at her sentencing. “No one is more disappointed than me.”

She served about 18 months in prison before being released in January 2022 and transferring to a halfway house.

Since her release, Pugh, who before politics worked in journalism and public relations, has been penning articles for the AFRO newspaper. Her probation agent wrote that since May 2023 she was working in a contractual position for Morgan State as a senior liaison conducting research for their Center on Urban Violence and Crime.

The agent wrote that she was an offender “with a low propensity of reoffending and presents with no identified public safety risks.”

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries.

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