Governor's ex-chief of staff can remain free before trial

·2-min read
Roy McGrath, chief executive officer of the Maryland Environmental Service, speaks during a news conference at the State House in Annapolis, Md., on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. On Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, the Maryland U.S. attorney announced that McGrath, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff, has been indicted in federal court for allegedly defrauding a state agency he led. (Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A federal magistrate determined Friday that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's former chief of staff can remain free before his trial on charges that he defrauded a state agency he led by inducing it to pay him nearly $280,000 in mostly severance pay before moving to the governor's office.

The initial appearance for Roy McGrath of Naples, Florida, was held virtually and made available to the public over a teleconference line, The Baltimore Sun reported. Magistrate Judge Thomas DiGirolamo ordered that McGrath can continue on a status that does not require him to report to jail while awaiting trial. McGrath has maintained in Facebook posts and emails to The Sun that he's a victim of “politically motivated bullies" and his actions weren't improper.

The indictment alleges that McGrath also used funds from the Maryland Environmental Service to pay a personal pledge to a museum and got the agency to pay tuition expenses for a class after he left his job as executive director. He also recorded conversations with senior state officials without their consent, it said.

The federal and state charges allege that in 2019 and 2020, McGrath personally enriched himself by using his positions of trust to get the agency to make payments to him. The indictment alleges that McGrath got the agency’s board to approve a $233,647 severance payment — equal to one year’s salary — by falsely telling them the governor approved the payment.

When Hogan questioned McGrath about the package, McGrath falsely told him that the board offered him the severance in accordance with its usual practice, the indictment said.

If convicted, McGrath faces up to 20 years in prison on each of four federal charges of wire fraud and up to 10 years in prison on each of two federal charges of misappropriation.

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