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June trial set for Maryland Gov. Hogan’s former chief of staff

Roy McGrath, the former top aide to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, faces a June trial on charges of misconduct in office and illegally recording conversations.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Stacy W. McCormack set the trial for June 7 during a brief hearing Friday morning in Annapolis. McGrath, his attorney and the prosecutor all called into the hearing on a conference call.

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McGrath’s attorney, Joseph Murtha, appeared reluctant to commit to a trial date, noting the overwhelming amount of potential evidence to be reviewed in the discovery phase of the case, evidence that overlaps with a federal criminal case against McGrath.

“There is a huge amount of discovery that is still pending,” Murtha told the judge.

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McCormack acknowledged the “intensive” nature of the case but warned: “This case is going to have to move on our docket.”

With a June court date, she said: “That gives you five months. That’s pretty good.”

McGrath spent 11 weeks in the summer of 2020 as chief of staff to Hogan, a Republican. McGrath resigned after The Baltimore Sun reported he had negotiated an exit package worth one year’s salary of more than $233,000 and other perks from a state environmental agency when he joined Hogan’s State House team.

McGrath has maintained that the payment, which he called “severance,” was proper. Members of the Maryland Environmental Service’s board of directors have testified that McGrath led them to believe Hogan approved of the severance. Hogan disputes that claim, saying he did not endorse it and was unaware of the details.

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Questions over the severance and other spending during McGrath’s tenure leading the Maryland Environmental Service led to legislative and criminal investigations.

Last fall, McGrath was indicted in federal court on charges that he misled officials to approve his severance, spent Maryland Environmental Service money inappropriately and failed to take leave when he went on vacation. McGrath has pleaded not guilty in that case and a trial date has not yet been scheduled.

McGrath was charged the same day in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court with multiple counts of “unlawful intercept” — wiretapping — and misconduct in office for allegedly recording conversations with the governor, cabinet secretaries and other officials without their consent.

In court Friday, McCormack asked Deputy State Prosecutor Sarah R. David if she’d made a plea offer to McGrath. She said her team and federal prosecutors met with McGrath’s prior lawyer, but “not with this counsel, no.”

“At some point, an offer has to be made,” McCormack said.

During the hearing, McGrath, who now lives in Florida, spoke only briefly, acknowledging that he was present on the line and could hear the proceedings.

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