FBI: Ex-Maryland aide didn’t plan travel for fraud trial

Apr 19, 2023, 12:44 PM

FILE - Roy McGrath, chief executive officer of the Maryland Environmental Service, speaks during a ...

FILE - Roy McGrath, chief executive officer of the Maryland Environmental Service, speaks during a news conference at the State House in Annapolis, Md., on April 15, 2020. Federal authorities offered rewards of up to $20,000 Tuesday, March 28, 2023, as their search continues for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s ex-chief of staff who failed to appear for trial on corruption charges two weeks ago. (Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun via AP, File)

(Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun via AP, File)

BALTIMORE (AP) — A former top Maryland official who skipped his trial on corruption charges and died last month as a fugitive in an armed confrontation with federal agents after a three-week manhunt had made no plans to travel for his trial in Baltimore, according to a newly-unsealed FBI affidavit.

Roy McGrath, a one-time chief of staff for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, missed the first day of trial in federal court on March 13, triggering a manhunt that ended when McGrath was wounded in a shooting April 3 near Knoxville, Tennessee. He died at a hospital. Authorities have released no details on how McGrath was wounded or what led up to the shooting.

McGrath’s failure to appear for trial surprised his attorney, Joseph Murtha, who said at the time he believed that McGrath, who had moved to Naples, Florida, was planning to fly to Maryland the night before. McGrath long had maintained his innocence and was adamant about going to trial in hopes of clearing his name, Murtha said.

But according to an affidavit from an FBI agent requesting a search warrant for McGrath’s home, McGrath did not have plane tickets or travel reservations in the days before his trial, news outlets reported. The affidavit, which didn’t identify the agent, was unsealed Tuesday.

McGrath had last checked in with authorities two weeks earlier, and officials last visited him at the Florida home in August. McGrath’s wife said she thought her husband would be flying to Baltimore the morning of the trial, the affidavit states.

“Checks with airlines providing service between Florida and Baltimore, MD did not reveal any plane ticket or reservation for McGrath’s travel to Maryland,” according to court documents.

The warrant request indicates that investigators wanted to seize McGrath’s electronics and records related to his travel arrangements, financial records and any evidence that McGrath tried to alter his appearance.

McGrath served as Hogan’s chief of staff for just 11 weeks. He resigned in August 2020 after it became public that he had received a $233,650 severance payment from his old job as head of a state-owned corporation before moving to the governor’s office.

McGrath was indicted in 2021 on charges that he fraudulently secured the severance payment, equal to one year’s salary as the head of Maryland Environmental Service, by falsely telling the agency’s board that the governor had approved it. Hogan denied knowledge of the plan.

McGrath also was accused of fraud and embezzlement connected to roughly $170,000 in expenses.

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FBI: Ex-Maryland aide didn’t plan travel for fraud trial