Cheryl Glenn, the Baltimore Democrat who abruptly resigned her long-held seat in the Maryland House of Delegates last week, has been charged with bribery and wire fraud, federal prosecutors said Monday.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said Glenn accepted $33,750 in bribes in exchange for several actions: voting for a bill last year 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 accepted packets of cash in Baltimore restaurants after frankly negotiating what legislative actions she would take in exchange.
Glenn, 68, was charged in a criminal information July 23, prosecutors said. The charges were unsealed Monday.
Hur said Glenn betrayed the public trust on matters that affect the health, safety and well-being of Marylanders: marijuana, opioids and alcohol.
“Decisions about these issues, and legislation about these issues, are matters of life and death,” Hur said. “These decisions cannot be made on the basis of who is the highest bidder.”
If convicted, Glenn faces up to 25 years in prison, prosecutors said. She did not respond to requests for comment Monday. Her arraignment and initial appearance in court are scheduled for Jan. 22.
William C. Brennan Jr., Glenn’s attorney, said any comments by him or his client “will be made in court.”
Prosecutors said Glenn took the bribes over the course of 12 months last year and this year. 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.
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.”
Prosecutors said Glenn tried to cover her tracks by discussing the bribes only in person and not over the phone, agreeing not to deposit the payments in her bank account, creating fake loan paperwork to conceal some of the bribes and saying the money was a gift, not related to her position as a delegate.
Still, in court filings, prosecutors quote in detail discussions about payoffs that Glenn allegedly had with business associates. The extensive quotations suggest recordings were used, though Hur declined to say.
In one conversation in August 2018, Glenn allegedly discussed with an associate the possibility of introducing legislation to give Maryland businesses priority when competing for medical marijuana licenses.
The associate, negotiating with Glenn on behalf of another man, asked her to send an email stating she would push the measure. She allegedly responded, “You’re saying that ... if I put this in an email, he’ll cough up this money?”
When the associate said yes, Glenn allegedly sent the email, saying she would “take the lead on the effort to get the law changed to provide the residency preference."
Hur would not say whether Glenn’s resignation was a condition of ongoing negotiations with his office.
None of the individuals who gave bribes to Glenn were identified, and it’s not clear whether they will face charges as well.
“We’re concerned with both sides of the transaction, and we are determined to hold accountable people on both sides of those types of exchanges,” Hur said.
Glenn was an influential member of the House of Delegates. She was chair of Baltimore’s House delegation, and she previously chaired the Legislative Black Caucus.
She is the second state delegate to resign amid federal charges this year. In October, Tawanna P. Gaines, a Prince George’s County Democrat, resigned just before pleading guilty in federal court to using campaign funds for personal purposes.
Glenn abruptly resigned from the legislature Wednesday night; an aide delivered her resignation letter to the office of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones. Jones could not be reached for comment Monday.
Glenn did not explain why she resigned, telling The Baltimore Sun in a text message Thursday that it was for “personal reasons.”
Glenn was elected to the House in 2006 and has 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.
Maryland’s fledgling medical cannabis industry has been fraught with regulatory problems, as well as legal disputes fueled in part by the financial opportunity that a license brings. Medical cannabis is big business: For the 12 months ending in November, the state tracked more than $250 million worth of retail sales.
In 2018, Glenn led a charge to create additional licenses to grow and process the drug with the goal of increasing diversity after minorities were largely shut out of the first round of licenses. The award of those licenses is on hold while the cannabis commission reviews the process after complaints were lodged by applicants.
Prosecutors allege that in the spring of 2018, Glenn received the $3,000 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.
William Tilburg, executive director of the state’s medical cannabis commission, said in a statement that he didn’t know Glenn was under investigation.
“The Commission was disappointed to hear about today’s charges,” he said. “We were not aware of the federal investigation or charges until today, and we are unable to comment on an ongoing criminal matter. The Commission plans to carefully examine additional information as it becomes available in order to determine any next steps.”
The charges represent the latest anti-corruption effort on the part of prosecutors in Baltimore.
Last month, former Mayor Catherine Pugh was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and tax evasion in a scheme to sell her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Pugh quickly pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby recently announced charges against 25 corrections officers and other personnel for allegedly using excessive force, intimidation and other tactics to control jail inmates in Baltimore.
In recent years, a slew of police officers, including those in the infamous Gun Trace Task Force, have been charged by state and federal prosecutors on a range of corruption and abuse charges. In 2018, former Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Also in 2018, former state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks of Baltimore resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges for taking money in exchange for offering to help an FBI informant who posed as an out-of-town developer.
In the most recent legislative session, Glenn led an unsuccessful effort to allow Baltimore school police officers to carry guns while patrolling during school hours. Members of the city’s delegation voted 10-5 against the bill, defeating it.
Glenn is not the first delegate to face sanctions for involvement in the medical cannabis industry.
Former Del. Dan K. Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat, was reprimanded by his House of Delegates colleagues in 2017 for advocating for medical cannabis laws without fully disclosing that he was working as a consultant for a cannabis company. He chose not to run for reelection in 2018.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Before entering politics, Glenn worked on union and labor issues. She was a personnel officer for the city school system in the 1970s and 1980s and was a lobbyist for the city teachers’ union from 1997 until 2003.
Glenn’s annual salary as a delegate, which is considered a part-time job, was $50,330.
The Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee for the 45th District that Glenn represented must nominate a replacement to serve the remainder of her term, which runs until January 2023. The governor must select her replacement from nominees put forth by the central committee.
The district includes neighborhoods in East and Northeast Baltimore, including Greenmount West, Broadway East, Middle East, Herring Run, Hamilton and Woodholme Heights.
State Sen. Cory McCray, a Democrat who represents the 45th District, said it was a “sad time."
“With Delegate Glenn’s absence, the 45th district has lost a delegate, a union leader, and an advocate,” he said. "Serving the public is one of the highest honors and privileges that an individual can hold; it also comes with a much greater responsibility. As the 45th district’s senator, I remain committed to focusing on the matters that are most important to our district and our state as we head into the 2020 legislative session.“
Glenn is the fifth delegate to resign since the end of the last General Assembly session in April. In addition to Glenn and Gaines, three delegates — Democrats Stephen Lafferty and Eric Bromwell of Baltimore County and Republican Andrew Cassilly of Harford and Cecil counties — left because they were taking new jobs.