A Baltimore businessman and CEO was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in federal prison for paying about $40,000 in cash bribes to now-imprisoned state Del. Cheryl Glenn.
Lance Lucas, 45, who founded the nonprofit Digit All Systems to provide cybersecurity training, admitted to bribing Glenn with envelopes of cash for a license to grow and distribute medical marijuana. He further bribed Glenn to introduce legislation to pay for his cybersecurity curriculum in Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities.
“This, unfortunately, is a continuing problem in our state: the pay-the-play culture, the culture of corruption,” U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake told him. “It definitely, seriously, erodes public confidence and public trust.”
Lucas asked Blake for a sentence of house arrest; federal prosecutors recommended two and a half years in prison. The judge settled on a year and a half. She also granted Lucas three months to undergo medical tests and treatment for a blood clot and diabetes before he reports to prison.
An Army veteran and graduate of Coppin State University, Lucas apologized for his crimes.
“I’ve spent my whole, entire adult life giving to those less fortunate than myself. I’m disappointed in myself for these actions, these crimes that I committed, because I let down my students, my mother, my teachers,” he told the judge. “I know right from wrong, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to make amends.”
Glenn, meanwhile, is serving two years in federal prison for accepting his bribes. In describing their scheme, federal prosecutors explained how Lucas had asked her how someone might obtain a marijuana license.
She answered bluntly: “The only people you need to know are God and Cheryl Glenn.”
Lucas bribed her with 11 payments between May 2018 and July 2019 — a total of $42,500. They met at restaurants in Annapolis and Baltimore County where they sat in his Porsche and he handed her envelopes of cash. Prosecutors said he boasted about his willingness to pay.
“I’m from Baltimore for real, for real Baltimore. ... This is the least illegal thing I’ve ever done. This is like patty-cake compared to the [expletive] in Baltimore City," he told Glenn, according to the indictment.
“If you were to write a TV show about corruption, I’d say that line would make it into the script,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise told the judge.
According to a sentencing memorandum from his attorney, Lucas agreed to help the FBI take down Glenn. He made recorded phone calls, wore a hidden camera, sent text messages and wore a wire.
During the sentencing hearing Thursday, Lucas' mother broke down and asked the judge to show mercy on her son. A woman who had lived on the streets and took his cybersecurity program told the judge how it changed her life.
His attorney, Jerry Tarud, spoke of Lucas' charity work to offer a free computer to anyone who turned in a gun from Baltimore’s streets.
Still, the good deeds did not persuade the judge to allow Lucas home detention. Prosecutors argued that paying a bribe is no less a crime than accepting one.
“Corruption only occurs when politicians are on the take and business people are on the give,” Wise told the judge. “For every Cheryl Glenn, there has to be a Lance Lucas.”