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Glenn sentenced to two years in prison for accepting bribes

Cheryl Glenn in March 2017. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

Cheryl Glenn in March 2017. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced former Del. Cheryl D. Glenn to two years in prison after she pleaded guilty to accepting more than $33,000 in bribes in exchange for legislative favors, including votes to increase the number of marijuana grower licenses.

Saying Glenn had violated the public trust, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake rejected defense counsel’s recommendation that the Baltimore Democrat be sentenced to home detention, particularly in light of the 69-year-old’s poor health and the danger of contracting COVID-19 behind bars.

Blake also rejected the federal prosecutor’s request that Glenn be sentenced to three years in prison, as former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had after pleading guilty last year to campaign finance violations. Blake said Pugh’s offenses were “more extensive and significant” than Glenn’s.

“This is a very serious offense,” Blake said. “Del. Glenn sold her public office to pay her bills. It was a deliberate scheme to take advantage of her political power … in return for money.”

In a final statement before being sentenced, Glenn expressed “how profoundly remorseful” she was for her actions that she said were compelled — but not excused — by her dire personal finances following her husband’s death in 2015.

“I take full responsibility for my conduct,” Glenn said during the remote sentencing hearing due to the pandemic. “My hope is that elected officials will learn from me. There is no free lunch.”

Blake set a date of Sept. 21 for Glenn to surrender to authorities and begin her sentence. However, the judge said that date could be extended depending on the continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in light of Glenn’s age and health.

The two-year sentence is to be followed by three years of supervised probation and the total payment of $37,500 in forfeiture and restitution, Blake said.

Glenn pleaded guilty in January to charges of honest services wire fraud and bribery. She served as a state delegate from January 2007 until her resignation in December, days before the charges were unsealed.

Glenn accepted five bribe payments totaling $33,750 over an 11-month period in 2018 and 2019, according to the plea. The first bribe she took, a $3,000 payment, was in exchange for votes in favor of legislation that increased the number of medical marijuana grower licenses in Maryland from 15 to 22 and setting a new cap of 28 processing licenses, prosecutors said. The bill was signed into law.

She also took $20,000 in bribes in exchange for requesting the drafting of a bill to create a new liquor license and accepted a $5,000 bribe in exchange for filing a bill lowering the number of years of experience required for a medical director of an opioid clinic, from three years of medical practice to two, according to the plea.

Glenn was one of the leading voices in the medical cannabis debate in 2014 when the Maryland General Assembly legalized the program. Glenn’s mother’s name, Natalie M. LaPrade, remains on the official title of the oversight panel for the state’s program – a point seized upon by the prosecution in pressing for a three-year prison sentence.

“Del. Glenn sold her vote on a bill that literally had her mother’s name on it,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise, chief of the fraud and public corruption unit under U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur of Maryland. “She has betrayed the public trust.’

Wise added that the home detention sought by defense attorney William C. Brennan Jr. would not be a punishment befitting the offense and the goal of deterring similar wrongdoing, particularly amid pandemic-spurred orders and advice that people avoid venturing out.

“We have all literally been on home confinement since March,” Wise told Blake.

Brennan, in pressing for home detention, spoke of Glenn’s unlikely rise from an impoverished and violent childhood in Baltimore, in which she attended 10 different elementary schools as her parents kept one step ahead of angry landlords and her father tried to kill her mother.

“She persisted and she accomplished,” Brennan said.

However, her emotional and financial security ended five years ago when her husband died, Brennan said. Glenn’s uncharacteristic criminal conduct that followed was spurred not by greed but economic desperation, added Brennan, of Brennan McKenna & Lawlor Chtd. in Greenbelt.

“She was a widow, she was alone and she was in debt,” Brennan said.

“One thing led to another and she committed these crimes,” he added. “I don’t think its necessary to incarcerate a person who has otherwise lived an exemplary life.”

Brennan added that Glenn has largely paid for her crimes by resigning her legislative office in disgrace and having to live with that public humiliation.

Blake, in handing down the sentence, said she balanced Glenn’s rise from an impoverished childhood and her years of valuable public service against her breach of public trust.

The days of pay-to-play in Maryland politics “should be long gone,” Blake said. “But sadly they are not.”

“This is a difficult situation,” Blake added. “It is not a good day for anyone.”

The case is United States of America v. Cheryl D. Glenn, No. 19-351-CCB.


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