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Former Del. Cheryl Glenn pleads guilty in federal court

Former Del. Cheryl Glenn.

Former Del. Cheryl Glenn.

Former Maryland Del. Cheryl Glenn pleaded guilty to federal corruption and bribery charges on Wednesday and is scheduled to be sentenced this spring.

Glenn pleaded guilty to two counts: honest services wire fraud and violating the Travel Act, by sending an email as part of a scheme to commit fraud and using a cellphone to send a text message in order to demand or receive a bribe in connection with medical cannabis licenses.

Dressed in a gray pantsuit and carrying a cane in one hand, the 68-year-old Glenn answered questions during the arraignment from U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake in a clear “yes,” and announced her decision to plead guilty without hesitation.

Sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. May 8. The crimes Glenn admitted to in court carry a combined maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, with fines up to $250,000 for each count.

Glenn, however, has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors. At one point Blake called Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derek Hines and Leo Wise and defense attorney William C. Brennan Jr. to the bench to discuss a sealed supplement addressing Glenn’s cooperation.

Glenn signed the plea deal on July 24, 2019, a day after U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur filed criminal information documents in federal court. Those documents, which accused Glenn of using her position as a legislator to push legislation in exchange for payment, were not unsealed until December, and the plea deal was not revealed prior to Wednesday’s arraignment.

After the judge left the bench Glenn hugged members of the prosecution team. She and Brennan left the courtroom and did not answer questions from reporters as they headed to pretrial services. Hines and Wise also declined to comment after leaving the court room.

Glenn, a Democrat who represented Baltimore in the House since 2007, was serving as the chairwoman of the city delegation. She resigned in December, and days later criminal information documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office accusing Glenn of honest services wire fraud and bribery were unsealed.

Federal prosecutors alleged Glenn accepted $33,750 in bribes between March 2018 and February 2019 in exchange for voting for or introducing legislation impacting medical cannabis licenses, opioid maintenance therapy and liquor licenses.

Court documents filed in July but only unsealed last month describe Glenn, a leading advocate for the state’s medical cannabis program, bragging about her influence in the state legislature, in particular securing a medical marijuana licenses.

According to criminal information filed in court, Glenn boasted that one business was able to secure a license because “they know God and Cheryl Glenn.”

Those same documents describe a meeting between Glenn, “associates” and three “business people” to discuss legislation and deliver cash payments at unnamed restaurants and hotels in Baltimore and Annapolis.

Glenn, according to a criminal information filed with the court, told an associate she needed money because of an outstanding tax debt. The associate and Glenn allegedly agreed to solicit money, and Glenn is accused of telling a businessperson a $20,000 payment “would get (her) out of the hole.”

The home Glenn shared with her husband, Benjamin Glenn Sr., who died in 2015, is facing foreclosure proceedings, according to court documents filed in September. Glenn owes more than $102,000 on the property, records show.

Glenn is the latest in a string of Maryland politicians to admit to crimes involving corruption.

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh admitted in federal court in November that she and former aide Gary Brown Jr. used her “Healthy Holly” children’s books to enrich themselves and fund her campaigns. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 27.

Former Del. Tawanna Gaines, D-Prince George’s, entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors related to the theft of more than $22,000 in campaign donations. Earlier this month she was sentenced to six months in prison, three years of supervised probation, including two months of home detention, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $22,565.

Former Sen. Nathaniel Oaks was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty in 2018 to corruption charges. Oaks was also sentenced to three years supervised release and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.


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