Ex-Maryland lawmaker accused of accepting more than $30K in bribes

FILE – In a Wednesday, April 12, 2017 file photo, Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, calls for a special session to approve additional licenses to grow medical marijuana during a news conference in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

A former Maryland state delegate who represented parts of the city of Baltimore is facing federal charges of honest services wire fraud and accepting more than $30,000 in bribes.

Democratic Del. Cheryl Glenn, 68, of Baltimore, is accused of accepting bribes in exchange for her official support of legislation involving medical marijuana licenses, opioid therapy clinics and liquor licenses, and depriving her constituents of her honest services. The sum of the alleged bribes was $33,750. She stepped down from her seat suddenly on Dec. 18.

First elected as a delegate in 2006, Glenn served as the chair of the Banking, Consumer Protection and Commercial Law Subcommittee, the chair of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee and chair of the Baltimore City Delegation.

Glenn was also formerly the head of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

According to the criminal information document, between March 2018 and February 2019, Glenn accepted and sought bribes in exchange for her support of pieces of legislation that would impact the medical marijuana industry in Maryland, alter requirements for operating opioid maintenance therapy clinics and create a liquor license in her district.

The charging documents accuse Glenn, an associate and two businesspersons of conspiring to create preferential legislation that “defrauded the citizens of Maryland of the right to her honest services,” federal prosecutors said.

According to the charges, Glenn and an associate met with a businessperson at a restaurant in Baltimore in June 2018 to discuss medical marijuana licenses. Glenn allegedly told the businessperson that people asked her how a medical marijuana company had obtained a growing license without the aid of high-priced lobbyists, to which she said “…they know God and Cheryl Glenn.”

The charging documents allege that Glenn followed up that meeting by asking her associate if the businessperson was “looking for [Glenn] to help him or something?”

When the businessperson did express an interest in getting Glenn’s help, she allegedly asked ” … is he going to be making a donation or something?”

“We expect our elected officials to put the interests of the public above their own. We do not expect them to sell their office to the highest bidder,” Robert K. Hur, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, said in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will hold accountable those who betray the public trust for their own greed.”

If Glenn is convicted on the charges, she could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the honest services wire fraud charge and five years for the bribery charge.

Recent cases with Maryland officials

Glenn’s indictment on federal bribery charges makes her the most recent in a series of elected Maryland officials to face charges of corruption in office.

In October, former state Del. Tawanna Gaines pleaded guilty to illegally using campaign funds. Gaines’ district included Prince George’s County.

Three other former state lawmakers, including two from Prince George’s County and one from Baltimore, were sentenced in federal corruption cases. Former Dels. Michael Vaughn and Will Campos were sentenced on bribery charges tied to a federal case involving liquor licensing.

Longtime Baltimore lawmaker Nathaniel Oaks, who served in the Maryland House before becoming a state senator, was sentenced in a bribery scheme connected to a developer.

In November, former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh filed a guilty plea in federal court after being indicted on tax evasion and fraud charges.

Pugh’s former aide, Gary Brown, who had been selected to fill a vacancy in the Maryland House of Delegates in 2017, was charged with skirting campaign contribution regulations just days before he was to be sworn in. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s office declined to comment on Glenn’s indictment.

T. J. Smith, who is running for mayor in Baltimore City, tweeted that while Glenn “deserves her due process like anyone accused of a crime,” he added that he was “infuriated that our city is once again being faced with another elected official being accused of misusing their office for personal gain.”

Smith, who previously served as the spokesman for Baltimore City police and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, said, “It is time for transparency and good stewards of Baltimore.”

State Sen. Mary Washington, whose district includes Baltimore City, tweeted that she was committed to serving with “integrity, accountability and transparency.”

WTOP’s Melissa Howell contributed to this report. 

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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