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Feds launch manhunt for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's ex-chief of staff

Roy McGrath, who faces several fraud charges, failed to show up for his trial Monday.

Federal authorities began a manhunt Tuesday for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's onetime chief of staff after he failed to appear in court in connection with a series of fraud and other charges.

The U.S. Marshals Service tweeted that it had launched an interstate fugitive investigation into Roy McGrath and that its Baltimore office "is now seeking to apprehend the former Maryland governor’s top aide" after he was not in Maryland federal court Monday.

An arrest warrant was also issued, the marshals added.

The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the manhunt.

Prosecutors have accused Roy McGrath, pictured in April 2020, of collecting excessive expenses while in office, for illegally engineering a $233,647 severance payment from the Maryland Environmental Service when he left the organization to be Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's chief of staff and for fabricating a memo from Hogan's office that showed the governor's approval of the payment.
Roy McGrath in 2020.Pamela Wood / The Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images file

According to court documents, McGrath faces charges of wire fraud, theft in programs receiving federal funds, and falsification of records in federal investigations in connection with an indictment that says he defrauded the state-owned Maryland Environmental Service.

An attorney for McGrath, Joseph Murtha, said in an email that he was unsure of his client’s whereabouts after he did not show up at 9 a.m. Monday for an arraignment and jury selection for the trial before U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman.

“Unfortunately, at this time I have no further information about Mr. McGrath,” Murtha wrote. “It is my hope that he is safe and that we will have an opportunity to speak to one another in the near future.”

McGrath, who lives in Florida and has pleaded not guilty to all charges, has been free on personal recognizance on conditions that he promise to appear in court as required and serve any sentence imposed after a court appearance in October 2021.

According to the indictment, from March 2019 through December 2020, McGrath used his position at the Maryland Environmental Service to enrich himself by fraudulently issuing himself payments. The agency functions as an independent state entity that provides waste management and other services to local government agencies, federal government entities and the private sector.

Prosecutors also accused McGrath, 53, of illegally recording private conversations with senior state officials and falsifying his time sheets to claim he was at work while he was on vacation on two occasions in 2019.

McGrath first joined Hogan’s office as deputy chief of staff in 2015. Hogan, a Republican, appointed him to lead the Maryland Environmental Service in December 2016.

McGrath briefly returned to the governor’s office to be Hogan’s chief of staff in June 2020. He resigned months later as he faced backlash over having received a "severance payment" of more than $230,000 for the Maryland Environmental Service job before he took on his role as Hogan’s top aide.