Warrant issued for former Maryland chief of staff McGrath for failing to appear in court

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

Roy McGrath’s federal corruption trial is on indefinite hold after the former aide to former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) failed to come to court.

McGrath was expected to appear in a Baltimore courtroom for the first day of what was anticipated to be a two-week trial. Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Boardman issued an arrest warrant and sent the jury home.

Under the terms of McGrath’s pretrial release, he promised to appear in court. Boardman said McGrath’s failure to appear violated those terms.

“Let’s hope he’s safe and there’s some mix-up,” she said.

The terms of McGrath’s pretrial release required him to surrender his passport to the U.S. District Court clerk’s office in Fort Myers, Florida, near his home, in October 2021 and acquire no new passport. The order also required his wife to transfer a firearm and required McGrath to undergo “medical or psychiatric treatment as required by Pretrial Services.

On Jan. 23, the requirement for medical treatment was stricken after a request from McGrath’s attorney.

Joseph Murtha, McGrath’s attorney, said he had attempted throughout the morning on Monday to reach his client and his wife.

“Most importantly, I’m concerned. I’m hoping he’s safe,” Murtha said. “These situations are very stressful, the uncertainty of going to trial can cause people to do things many people don’t think are appropriate. We hope that he’s safe.”

Murtha declined to discuss the contents of the conversation but said there was nothing unusual about his client’s demeanor.

“He and I always had a very professional, engaged conversation that were directly related to the trial,” said Murtha. “I looked forward to seeing him at 8:45 this morning.”

Murtha said silence from his client was unusual.

“He’s always been responsive,” said Murtha.

McGrath was charged in an initial eight-count federal indictment with wire fraud and improperly securing a $233,648 severance payment from the Maryland Environmental Service just as he was joining Hogan’s staff. The payment is equal to his annual salary as head of the agency.

Other charges include fraud and embezzlement related to tens of thousands of dollars in expenses he sought reimbursement for from the state as well as a failure to claim vacation time while in Florida and a Mediterranean cruise to Spain, France and Italy. Those trips involved his wife who at the time was his girlfriend.

McGrath was expected to start the morning being re-arraigned, a technical process that would incorporate charges included in a superseding indictment.

Jury selection was set to begin at 9:30 following that brief hearing.

It is not clear why McGrath failed to appear.

Murtha told Boardman and later reporters that he spoke to his client on Sunday afternoon. He said McGrath told him he planned to travel to Maryland that evening.

It is unclear if McGrath kept to those travel plans.

McGrath was supposed to stay in an undisclosed area hotel.

Murtha said it was not immediately known if his client checked into the hotel.

McGrath’s travel plans appeared to be amorphous even for his attorney.

In a filing last week, Murtha told the court his client was planning on traveling to Maryland on Saturday. On Monday, he told Boardman he spoke to McGrath in the afternoon and his client planned to travel to the state later that day.

“It was a change in travel plans based on flight availability as I understood it,” Murtha told reporters.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report. This breaking news story was updated. 

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