Former Baltimore delegate Cheryl Glenn’s defense attorney said he “fully expects” the federal corruption case against her to be “resolved” at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court Wednesday afternoon.
Glenn, a Democrat, is accused of taking thousands of dollars in bribes to introduce legislation. She was charged through a criminal information in July, which was not unsealed until late December.
In federal court, charges filed through criminal information instead of a grand jury typically foreshadow a guilty plea - but not necessarily. An arraignment is a hearing where a defendant can enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Glenn’s attorney William C. Brennan declined to elaborate on his client’s plans.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said Glenn accepted $33,750 in bribes in exchange for several actions: voting for a bill that increased the number of state medical cannabis licenses, introducing legislation to ease the experience requirement to be medical director of an opioid treatment clinic, and introducing legislation to create a new liquor license in her East Baltimore district.
Prosecutors said she collected packets of cash in Baltimore restaurants after negotiating what legislative actions she would take in exchange. During a meeting in 2018 to discuss cannabis licenses, prosecutors allege that Glenn answered a question about how companies secured licenses without the help of expensive lobbyists by saying: “They know God and Cheryl Glenn.”
If convicted, Glenn faces up to 25 years in prison, prosecutors have said.
Glenn was elected to the House in 2006 and had been a leading proponent of the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The state’s medical cannabis commission is named in honor of Glenn’s late mother, Natalie M. LaPrade.
The 45th Legislative District Democratic Central Committee has nominated Chanel Branch to take Glenn’s spot in the legislature; Branch was the chairwoman of the central committee and cast the deciding vote for herself. Freshman delegate Stephanie Smith was selected to become the new chair of the city delegation.
The charges come on the heels of the guilty plea of Baltimore’s former mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the conviction and prison sentences for former police commissioner Darryl De Sousa, former state senator Nathaniel Oaks, and a dozen police officers all on federal crimes.
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Prosecutors said Glenn took the bribes over the course of 12 months in 2018 and 2019. They said she used the first $3,000, allegedly from a marijuana company licensed in another state and seeking to operate in Maryland, to pay an outstanding tax bill on her home.
Prosecutors allege that in the spring of 2018, Glenn received that money for agreeing to vote for the bill that created additional medical cannabis licenses. The money allegedly was arranged by two people working for the out-of-state marijuana company, which was not named. The bill passed and became law in Maryland.
Later that year, prosecutors allege, Glenn struck several deals with a Maryland-based businessperson.
In one, the unidentified person offered her $5,000 in exchange for her support for legislation to give Maryland businesses preference in applying for cannabis licenses.
That person allegedly gave Glenn an additional $5,000 later that year for introducing a bill to ease the requirements to be licensed as a medical director of an opioid clinic, and $20,000 for introducing a bill that would have created a new liquor license in her district. She later asked for and received an additional $750 from the contact after claiming the previous payments were short of what had been agreed to, prosecutors said.
Glenn never saw the opioid clinic and liquor license bills through the legislative process during the 2019 session. For both, she canceled the hearings and withdrew the legislation. On the liquor license bill, Glenn asked for a hearing to be canceled one day after prosecutors said she received the second of two bribes for introducing it.