Federal prosecutors used Cheryl Glenn’s words against her as they outlined why they believe the former Baltimore legislator deserves a three-year prison sentence.
In 2017, Glenn said it was “incredulous” that one of her Maryland House of Delegates colleagues got a “slap on the wrist” in the form of an ethics committee’s recommendation of a reprimand for not fully disclosing his ties to a medical marijuana company as he crafted legislation to build the industry.
“And now Delegate Glenn is asking for a slap on the wrist for conduct that is far worse than failing to adequately disclose a business relationship,” according to a Wednesday sentencing memo filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
The Democrat admitted in a January plea agreement that she solicited and accepted $33,750 in bribes to carry out political favors.
She is asking to be sentenced to home detention, with her attorney arguing that she has no prior criminal convictions and that prison time could be particularly detrimental to 69-year-old Glenn, who, given her age and medical history, is particularly susceptible to complications from the coronavirus.
“The court will sentence Ms. Glenn at a time of global anxiety and uncertainty,” attorney William C. Brennan Jr. wrote in a partially redacted memo that was unsealed Thursday. “The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every person on the planet and its toll will be felt long after a vaccine is discovered. Nowhere is the anxiety and risk as great as it is for incarcerated persons.”
Her sentencing is scheduled for July 29.
“More than home confinement is required to reflect the seriousness of the offense and to promote respect for the law,” prosecutors argued. “More than home confinement is required to deter Maryland politicians from taking bribes.”
The prosecutors’ memo describes how Glenn accepted five bribes during an 11-month period in 2018 and 2019 to introduce favorable legislation.
She took $3,000 in exchange for votes that would benefit an out-of-state medical marijuana company, it states, and $5,000 to commit to legislation that would help a business seeking a medical marijuana license.
She accepted another $5,000 to pre-file a bill to lower the number of years of experience required for a medical director of an opioid clinic.
“The defendant did this without any concern that those who treat patients with addiction issues should have more experience, not less,” the memo states.
The prosecutors rejected Glenn’s argument that “she succumbed to temptation” in accepting bribes. They said she actively sought these payments, including by telling an associate about her outstanding tax debt.
“She did it for the obvious reason that she hoped he would offer her money to pay it or, as they ultimately agreed, to help her solicit a bribe,” the memo stated.
Glenn’s attorney wrote that the former lawmaker overcame a difficult childhood to pursue a lifetime of public service. She faced “significant and substantial financial challenges” after her husband died in 2015 of a stroke and heart attack.
“Was her descent into criminality motivated by a desire to acquire or possess more than what she needed or deserved?” he writes. “Or was her conduct the result of a widow’s reckless attempt to survive the death of her husband when faced with serious financial difficulties?”
Letters of support from prominent Maryland lawmakers, family members and community leaders are included in Brennan’s memo to the court. Democratic Del. Darryl Barnes of Prince George’s County, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, wrote to attest to her “honesty and moral character.”
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Brennan questioned why the courts often turn to prison time, rather than to options like his proposal of home detention, community service and restitution.
Recent corruption cases against Baltimore public officials have ended in imprisonment. Democratic Sen. Nathaniel Oaks was sentenced to 3½ years after admitting to taking $15,300 from an FBI informant, who posed as an out-of-town developer and enlisted Oaks in a scheme to defraud the federal government. And former Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges related to the “Healthy Holly” children’s book scandal.
Glenn was at the height of her political powers when she took the bribes, prosecutors wrote.
She was elected to the House in 2006 and was a leading proponent of the use of marijuana for medical purposes. She served as a legislator and chair of the city delegation until December, when she abruptly resigned. The state’s medical cannabis commission is named in honor of her late mother.
Prosecutors said Glenn “evidently believed she was entitled to more than her legislator’s salary for her role in the genesis of this new sector of Maryland’s economy.”
Her arrogance, they argued, is once again best exemplified by her own words.
During a 2018 meeting to discuss cannabis licenses, the memo states, Glenn answered a question about how companies secured licenses without the help of expensive lobbyists by saying: “They know God and Cheryl Glenn.”