McGrath makes first appearance in federal court

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Roy McGrath, the former chief of staff to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) who is facing federal charges of wire fraud and misuse of government funds, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the charges Friday.

Roy McGrath at a State House press conference in April 2020. Photo from the Executive Office of the Governor. (Maryland Matters)

McGrath attended the virtual initial appearance from Florida, where his is living. He is not in custody and will remain under pre-trial supervision in Florida, Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo ruled Friday.

A defense attorney entered an appearance in the case on Friday morning, for the limited purpose of representing McGrath at the hearing.

The attorney briefly questioned whether it was necessary for McGrath to transfer his firearms as a term of pre-trial release, but DiGirolamo decided to keep the requirement in place.

During the hearing, McGrath was informed of the maximum penalties he faced and said he understood.

If convicted of the federal charges, McGrath faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each of four counts of wire fraud; and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for each of two counts of embezzling funds from an organization receiving more than $10,000 in federal benefits.

McGrath, whose charges stem from financial compensation he sought as he moved from heading the Maryland Environmental Service to the governor’s office, faces more than 30 state and federal criminal charges for wire fraud, misconduct in office and improper use of state funds.

In court filings, prosecutors allege that McGrath misrepresented his compensation to Hogan and the Environmental Service’s board of directors, recorded phone calls between top public officials without consent, claimed work hours during vacations and directed state funding to a Talbot County museum where he sat on the board.

While McGrath did not enter a plea on Friday, he has maintained his innocence.

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