A former chief of staff to Gov. Larry Hogan is facing an additional federal charge in a two-year-old public corruption case that alleges he collected excessive expenses and arranged for an unprecedented $233,647 severance payment during his time in office.
The new federal wire fraud charge against Roy McGrath relates to a memo that outlined the severance payment and included Hogan’s approval but that federal officials say McGrath fabricated.
The memo was discussed publicly after the initial reports of McGrath’s alleged misconduct in August 2020. A copy of it was included in an 82-page report the General Assembly made public last month after its members conducted their own investigation.
“The allegedly false memorandum contained a blue check mark, as characteristically used by the Governor of Maryland, in the ‘approved’ box which created the illusion that the Governor had seen and approved the memorandum,” the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Tuesday announcing the superseding indictment.
Before sharing the memo with the press in 2020, McGrath allegedly “backdated” it to May 18, 2020 — the date he was interviewed to become Hogan’s chief of staff, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement. Before that McGrath headed the Maryland Environmental Service, a government-owned nonprofit that provides services like wastewater management.
Hogan’s office has called the memo a “complete fabrication.”
McGrath pleaded not guilty last fall to the original slate of federal charges of wire fraud and misappropriation. A trial is scheduled for October, according to court documents. He also was charged separately with misconduct in office and illegally recording conversations by state prosecutors in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. A trial that had been scheduled in that case for June 7 was moved to March 2023.
His lawyer, Joseph Murtha, said in a statement Wednesday that McGrath “firmly stands by the fact that Governor Hogan formally approved of his compensation from Maryland Environmental Service, and sadly, turned his back on Mr. McGrath to avoid the political fallout of his decision.”
McGrath spent 11 weeks as Hogan’s chief of staff in 2020. He had served as director of MES — a position appointed by Hogan — starting in late 2016.
During his MES tenure, McGrath incurred at least $169,000 in expenses that included frequent out-of-state trips, according to the legislative report released in May. He also surrounded himself with loyalists who McGrath directed to donate to Hogan’s campaigns, the report stated.
Baltimore Sun reporter Hannah Gaskill contributed to this report.