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Crime

Former chief of staff of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan asks federal judge to postpone criminal trial

Prosecutors have accused Roy McGrath, pictured in April 2020, of collecting excessive expenses while in office, for illegally engineering a $233,647 severance payment from the Maryland Environmental Service when he left the organization to be Hogan’s chief of staff and for fabricating a memo from Hogan’s office that showed the governor’s approval of the payment.

Roy McGrath, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s former chief of staff, is asking a federal judge to postpone his criminal trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday.

McGrath, also the former head of the government-owned nonprofit Maryland Environmental Service, is asking for the delay because the government disclosed thousands of pages of discovery documents days before trial.

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What’s more, because McGrath lives in Florida, he cannot look at discovery documents in the case while out of state, per an agreement with the prosecution, defense attorney Joe Murtha wrote in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Boardman.

Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information, like evidence, in a legal case before a trial.

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“Mr. McGrath has expressed serious concerns regarding counsel’s ability to be adequately prepared for trial when having to juggle the recent production of discovery at a time when it was anticipated that the production of discovery was complete,” Murtha wrote. “I share in Mr. McGrath’s concerns.”

In a response, prosecutors said the U.S. Attorney’s Office is turning over evidence at the rate it receives it and that most of the documents being disclosed aren’t actually new to the defense.

Since Oct. 7, the government has turned over more than 8,000 pages of material to McGrath’s defense, including 6,636 pages of emails from a law firm that advised the Maryland General Assembly’s joint committee that investigated McGrath. However, prosecutors say most of those emails contain duplicative records, and that about 5% of them are actually new material.

If there is a postponement at all, prosecutors asked Boardman to limit it to no more than a week, something Murtha also suggested.

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Boardman scheduled a telephone hearing for 2 p.m. Thursday to determine whether a postponement is necessary.

Prosecutors have accused McGrath of collecting excessive expenses while in office, for illegally engineering a $233,647 severance payment — a year’s salary — from the Maryland Environmental Service when he left the organization to be Hogan’s chief of staff and for fabricating a memo from Hogan’s office that showed the governor’s approval of the payment. McGrath has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The supposedly false memorandum approving McGrath’s severance is dated May 18, 2020, the same day he interviewed to be Hogan’s chief of staff.

At first, Hogan was prepared to stand by his former top adviser, with The Baltimore Sun reporting that the governor had texted, “I know you did nothing wrong. I know it is unfair. I will stand with you,” in November 2021.

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After prosecutors revealed the fabricated memo in June, Hogan’s office pivoted, with officials saying McGrath had fabricated it.

Hogan is expected to testify at the trial on behalf of the prosecution.

Also at issue is money paid to McGrath while at MES. McGrath incurred at least $169,000 in expenses that included frequent out-of-state trips, according to a legislative report released in May. Prosecutors have said McGrath lied about working on those trips to collect the money.


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