Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh’s bizarre and sudden absence from city government coincides with questions raised about gifts and cash given by Pugh to a young man he mentors.
Pugh gave an 18-year-old student more than $200 in cash, including money to pay for a prom night hotel and about $150 in dress clothes. He also purchased a cell phone for about $150 and paid for the cost of activation, according to the young man’s mother, who did not want her son to have a phone.
The mom told us in a lengthy interview that she is troubled because the money and presents were kept secret from her.
Pugh came into contact with the young man through the Charles Pugh Leadership Forum, which he runs out of Douglass Academy in Detroit, an all-male high school. He did not deny providing the gifts and cash.
The mother says she’s concerned that Pugh’s gifts may lead—or already have led—to other inappropriate conduct. But there is no evidence that it ever has, and Pugh and the woman’s son deny there ever was.
In a conversation with the mother, Pugh acknowledged that some of his gifts were inappropriate, but insisted his conduct was above board.
“I did not do anything inappropriate with your son,” he told her on the phone. “That was not my intent.”
While 7 Action News was meeting with the young man’s mother, Pugh made repeated calls to her cell phone, which she answered on speakerphone. Pugh pleaded with her not to talk to any reporters.
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But Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has since denied that Pugh can take a leave, saying he has until 5 p.m. today to show up to work or resign.