Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s aid and protégé was found guilty of violating election laws. Gary Brown Jr., 35, funneled cash to Pugh’s campaign through family members, including brother, mother and stepfather.
In Baltimore Circuit Court on Tuesday morning, Brown entered an Alford plea to two counts of making illegal contributions to Mayor Pugh’s campaign, just one day before his trial was scheduled to begin.
An estimated $18,000 was funneled into Pugh’s mayoral campaign between January 13, 2016 and April 9, 2016, according to the guilty plea.
In a criminal court, an Alford plea is a guilty plea permits the defendant to maintain their innocence, while simultaneously admitting prosecutors have likely secured enough evidence to win a conviction.
Since the charges were filed, Brown remains employed with the City, working alongside Pugh at the City Hall.
Circuit Judge Charles J. Peters initially delivered a sentence of probation. The Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt asked for a suspended jail sentence of one year. The final judgment handed down was one year of supervised probably. Once completed the conviction can be erased from Brown’s record.
Brown was a legislative aide on Pugh’s mayoral campaign and a legislative aid to her in the state Senate.
On Wednesday, Mayor Pugh said she still stands by Brown. She said she has not probed into the case or the source of the money.
“As far as I am concerned – I have not read the transcripts, I don’t know all of the particulars, I wasn’t in court but – the Gary Brown that I know has been a good employee for years,” Pugh said.
As a member of the mayor’s communications team, Brown is paid $46,000 each year.
The limit any one person can contribute to a campaign is $6,000 each cycle. Brown deposited that amount of money into his brother, stepfather and mother’s bank accounts, before contributing it to the Pugh campaign. Brown contributed an estimated $300 to the campaign in his own name.
The Pugh campaign is still being investigated by the Office of the State Prosecutor relating to a complaint that $66,000 in the form of checks sent to the campaign bounced.