A former top aide to former Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Roy McGrath, was set to appear in a Baltimore courtroom on Monday to begin a trial on several federal charges, but never actually showed up.
Now federal U.S. Marshals are engaged in an interstate manhunt for the wanted fugitive after the judge presiding over the case issued an arrest warrant for McGrath's failure to appear, the New York Post reported.
McGrath, who served as Hogan's top staffer for less than three months in 2020, is alleged to have defrauded the state and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from both the state and federal governments.
In June 2022, the Justice Department announced that it had indicted McGrath on numerous federal charges including falsifying documents, embezzlement from an organization receiving federal funds, and wire fraud.
McGrath had been appointed by the Maryland governor to head a state-owned corporation known as Maryland Environmental Services, which as the name implies provides various environmental services to both private clients and government agencies, and is funded in part from fees charged as well as federal grant money.
He resigned from that post in May 2020 to accept a position as Gov. Hogan's chief of staff, but was forced to resign less than three months later amid allegations of fraud. He is alleged to have falsified an official document to make it appear as though Hogan had approved and authorized a severance package from MES worth more than $233,000, or about a year's salary.
McGrath is further alleged to have separately defrauded MES for money that he used for his own personal benefit, such as paying membership dues at a museum as well as school tuition, among other things. In addition, he faces a slew of similar and related state-level charges.
If convicted on all of the federal counts, McGrath could face up to 20 years in prison for each of five wire fraud counts, up to 10 years in prison for each of two embezzlement counts, and up to 20 years in prison for the falsifying documents charge -- though it is unlikely that he would actually receive those maximum sentences that total up to 140 years in prison combined.
The Baltimore Sun reported that after McGrath was a no-show for the start of his trial on Monday, U.S. District Judge Deborah Boardman delayed the proceedings briefly before issuing the arrest warrant for his failure to appear.
By Tuesday, federal investigators with the U.S. Marshals Service had reportedly begun to search the 53-year-old fugitive's home and neighborhood, likely as well as his bank and phone records, in hope of learning where he might now be.
@USMSBaltimore has initiated an interstate fugitive investigation. It is now seeking to apprehend the former Maryland governor’s top aide after he failed to appear in court on Monday, March 13. If you have information on his whereabouts, submit a tip here: https://t.co/6CHEjjXMQi pic.twitter.com/cGQ3VQ0boG
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) March 14, 2023
McGrath's attorney, Joseph Murtha, told the Post that he last talked to his client on Sunday and had a "substantively productive conversation" with the clear expectation that McGrath would board a plane first thing in the morning and be in Maryland in time for his trial.
Murtha told the Sun in a text message that he had no idea where McGrath was but had been able to speak with his client's wife, though it was unclear when she had last seen her husband. "I have been in contact with Laura and she shared her concern for Roy’s safety," Murtha said. "She has requested that the media respect her need for privacy at this very difficult time."
If McGrath has attempted to flee, it seems unlikely that he will get far without a passport -- which was seized after he was first indicted -- and with his bank accounts being closely monitored, and when inevitably caught, he will be transported back to Maryland to almost certainly face additional charges. The other possible outcome is that he possibly committed suicide in order to avoid the immense trouble he brought upon himself with his own fraudulent actions.