Roy McGrath’s federal corruption trial is on indefinite hold after the former aide to former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) failed to appear in court on Monday.
McGrath was expected to appear in a Baltimore courtroom for the first day of what was anticipated to be a two-week trial. Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Boardman issued an arrest warrant and sent the jury home.
McGrath, who spent about three months as Hogan’s chief of staff in spring 2020, faced eight counts, including wire fraud, theft and falsification of a government document stemming from his steps to secure a $233,648 severance payment from the Maryland Environmental Service just as he was joining Hogan’s staff. The payment was equal to his annual salary as head of the agency.
Prosecutors charge that McGrath also sought reimbursement for numerous expenses from the state and failed to claim vacation time while in Florida and on a Mediterranean cruise.
McGrath was expected to start the morning being re-arraigned, a technical process that would incorporate charges included in a superseding indictment.
Jury selection was set to begin at 9:30 following that brief hearing.
Under the terms of McGrath’s pretrial release, he promised to appear in court. Boardman said McGrath’s failure to appear violated those terms.
“Let’s hope he’s safe and there’s some mix-up,” she said.
The terms of McGrath’s pretrial release also required him to surrender his passport to the U.S. District Court clerk’s office in Fort Myers, Florida, near his home, in October 2021 and acquire no new passport. The order additionally required his wife to transfer a firearm and required McGrath to undergo “medical or psychiatric treatment as required by Pretrial Services.”
On Jan. 23, the requirement for medical treatment was stricken after a request from McGrath’s attorney.
Joseph Murtha, McGrath’s attorney, said he had attempted throughout the morning on Monday to reach his client and his wife.
“Most importantly, I’m concerned. I’m hoping he’s safe,” Murtha said. “These situations are very stressful, the uncertainty of going to trial can cause people to do things many people don’t think are appropriate. We hope that he’s safe.”
Murtha declined to discuss the contents of the conversation but said there was nothing unusual about his client’s demeanor.
“He and I always had a very professional, engaged conversation that were directly related to the trial,” said Murtha. “I looked forward to seeing him at 8:45 this morning.”
Murtha said silence from his client was unusual.
“He’s always been responsive,” said Murtha.
Murtha told Boardman and later reporters that he spoke to his client on Sunday afternoon. He said McGrath told him he planned to travel to Maryland that evening.
McGrath was supposed to stay in an undisclosed area hotel, though Murtha said it was unknown if he arrived.
McGrath’s travel plans appeared to be amorphous even for his attorney.
In a filing last week, Murtha told the court his client was planning on traveling to Maryland on Saturday.
“It was a change in travel plans based on flight availability as I understood it,” Murtha told reporters.
Around 6:15 p.m., Murtha confirmed that he had not yet heard from his client.
McGrath also faces pending state criminal charges relating to alleged illegally recorded private conversations involving senior state officials without their permission during his employment at the Maryland Environmental Service and as chief of staff.
By Bryan P. Sears. Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.
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