Gary Brown Jr., longtime aide to Catherine Pugh who now works at City Hall, today pleaded not guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to his boss while she was running for mayor last year.
The 35-year-old, who was the legislative assistant for state Senator Pugh between 2010 and her swearing-in as mayor in December, did not appear at this morning’s arraignment in Baltimore Circuit Court.
His plea was entered by Jason Downs, an attorney at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, whose politically prominent partner, William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr., threw his support behind Pugh shortly before she narrowly defeated former mayor Sheila Dixon in last April’s Democratic Party primary.
Brown was indicted last month on six counts of election law violations for allegedly funneling $18,000 in cash to the Pugh campaign through three “straw” parties – his mother, his stepfather and his brother Danny Brown.
State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, who appeared at today’s arraignment, said the charges, if proven, are subject to a penalty of one year in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.
A trial date was set for May 31 before Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Charles J. Peters.
• Pugh praises aide charged with making illegal campaign donations (1/11/17)
In Line for Legislative Seat
Brown was hired on December 14 as a $46,000 events coordinator by Mayor Pugh’s Office of Communications. The mayor’s spokesman, Anthony W. McCarthy, who hired Brown, attended today’s arrangement. Asked if the mayor had any comment about today’s hearing, McCarthy has not yet responded.
Brown also had been chosen to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates’ 40th District. He was days away from being sworn-in as a legislator when the indictment was handed down by a city grand jury on January 6.
Brown was selected by the 40th District’s Democratic Central Committee after Delegate Barbara A. Robinson was picked to take Pugh’s seat in the state Senate, leaving her House seat vacant.
Brown has not commented on the charges. Downs did not make any statement today, saying he has not reviewed the case.
The indictment details how Brown allegedly used the names of his family to bundle $18,000 in cash.
In each case, he reportedly placed cash into the checking accounts of family members, then deposited a check or a credit-card advance to the Pugh campaign in their
A source said Brown was responsible for collecting and recording checks and credit-card contributions coming to the Pugh campaign.
A graduate of Carver Vocational Technical School, Brown started working for then-state Senator Pugh in 2010. He continued as her legislative aide until Pugh was sworn-in as Baltimore’s 50th mayor on December 6.
He was hired as a city employee a week later.