Fugitive former top aide to former Maryland Gov. Hogan shot and killed in confrontation with FBI in Tennessee

April 5, 2023
Ben Marquis

U.S. Marshals and other federal and local law enforcement agencies had been engaged in a three-week manhunt for Roy McGrath, the former chief-of-staff to former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) after McGrath was declared a fugitive when he didn't appear for a court date in Maryland last month.

That manhunt ended fatally Monday night when McGrath died of a gunshot wound following a confrontation with FBI agents after he was found near Knoxville, Tennessee, the New York Post reported.

McGrath had failed to appear in a Maryland federal court last month for the start of his trial on a host of federal and state criminal charges that included embezzlement, falsification of records, improper use of state funds, misconduct in office, theft, and wire fraud, among others.

"An absolute tragedy"

The Baltimore Banner reported that McGrath's death Monday night was confirmed by William C. Brennan Jr., an attorney for McGrath's wife, Laura Bruner, who was described by Brennan as being "absolutely distraught" by the tragic news.

A spokesman for the FBI, Shayne Buchwald, also confirmed that McGrath had died in a Tennessee hospital after being shot, and told the Banner, "During the arrest, the subject, Roy McGrath, sustained injury and was transported to the hospital."

McGrath's own attorney, Joseph Murtha, told the outlet, "It’s an absolute tragedy, the loss of Roy McGrath’s life and the unfortunate events that have transpired over the past three weeks," and added, "Roy McGrath never wavered about his innocence."

Federal indictment for fraud, other related crimes

In June 2022, the Justice Department announced that a superseding indictment had been issued against McGrath that included additional criminal charges that hadn't been listed in an initial 2021 indictment. Separate but relatedly, he also faced a slew of state-level charges.

McGrath, who previously served as head of the Maryland Environmental Service before becoming Gov. Hogan's chief-of-staff in 2020, was alleged to have falsified a document that purported to show Hogan's approval for a fraudulent "severance" package of roughly one year's salary when he resigned his position at MES to take the job in the governor's office.

He was also alleged to have previously defrauded MES of funds that he used for personal expenses and his own enrichment, as well as making attempts to cover up records of his alleged fraud.

Manhunt ends with shots fired

The Post reported that the federal manhunt for McGrath -- who resigned from Gov. Hogan's office in disgrace in August 2020 after just 11 weeks when his fraud was first exposed and then moved to Florida -- began after he failed to appear for the March 13 start of his federal trial in a Baltimore courtroom, and soon a $20,000 reward was offered for information that led to his capture.

According to the Banner, it is unclear how federal authorities came to find McGrath in his vehicle at an intersection near a shopping center in Farragut, Tennessee, but a confrontation then ensued and shots were ultimately fired -- though it is also unclear if McGrath was shot by FBI agents or took his own life.

Per an unnamed witness of the shooting who shared what they saw with somebody who observed the aftermath and spoke with the Banner, the agents had ordered McGrath to exit the vehicle with his hands up but then opened fire when he instead appeared to reach for something.

The Banner noted that when McGrath had initially been arraigned, he had been approved for pre-trial release by a magistrate judge, albeit with certain conditions that included the surrender of his passport, a prohibition against firearm possession, limited permission to travel only between Florida and Maryland, and a requirement that he check in with the court on a regular basis.

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