Gary Brown Jr., a protege and campaign aide of Mayor Catherine Pugh, pleaded guilty to two election law violations today and was given one year of supervised probation by Circuit Court Judge Charles J. Peters.
Brown, 35, was set to go on trial tomorrow for using the names of his mother, brother and stepfather as conduits to funnel $18,000 worth of contributions to Pugh’s mayoral campaign last year.
The actual source of this campaign cash has yet to be disclosed in legal documents.
Brown was indicted last January by a city grand jury on six counts of election law violations, carrying a potential penalty of one year in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.
When the indictment was handed down, Brown was set to be sworn in as the new 40th district delegate to the Maryland General Assembly.
That position had opened up when Pugh assumed the mayor’s office from her former berth as the 40th district’s state senator.
Rep. Barbara A. Robinson was named as Pugh’s replacement as senator, while Brown was nominated by the Central Democratic Committee as the new state delegate. Following the indictment, former City Councilman Nick Mosby was given the post.
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A longtime legislative aide for Pugh in Annapolis, Brown was involved in campaign finances during Pugh’s run for mayor.
After she was sworn in as mayor, Brown became an events coordinator in the mayor’s office of communications and public affairs at an annual salary of $46,000. Three weeks later, he was indicted.
Asked to comment on the indictment, Pugh said she believed in the principle of “innocent ’til proven otherwise.” She described the illegal donations as possible “glitches,” noting that “things happen when you raise over $2 million.”
The mayor said she had no idea who contributed the $18,000 to her campaign.
In a statement today, State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said that “illegal straw contributions in names other than one’s own to evade [election] laws cannot be tolerated.”
Jason Downs, a partner at William H. “Billy” Murphy’s law firm who represented Brown, was not available for comment, according to his secretary.