Mar 2, 2020
On February 27 former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in federal prison for a fraud scheme involving a series of children’s books she authored. Between 2010 and 2018 Pugh used her position on the governing board of the 13-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) to get the board to approve repeated no-bid purchases of her books totaling $500,000. Other organizations also bought her books, which sometimes were never delivered.
The news media gave top billing to Pugh’s sentencing. The judge said, “This was not a tiny mistake, lapse in judgement. This became a very large fraud.”
But all the hullabaloo about Pugh going to jail is obscuring the corruption of other, much richer, former members of the UMMS board. Investigators have found that at least nine of the UMMS board members who served with Pugh also had business with the hospital network. Many used their board positions to get high-profit no-bid contracts for their companies, or for companies owned by friends or family:
– At least 30 million dollars went to a large health insurance company owned by the family of a board member who was a former state senator.
– More than 7 million went for services from M&T Bank, one of whose executives served on the board.
– For six or seven years, another board member was paid $13,000 every month for work that was hard to define.
– And the list goes on....
Pugh has been sentenced, but none of these other schemers has yet to be charged with any crimes. Perhaps this is because, in fact, this kind of situation is not so unusual at all, but rather the normal way that business is conducted in this corrupt, profit-driven economy.