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Former Hogan aide McGrath seeks delay in federal fraud trial

Roy C. McGrath, former chief of staff to Gov. Larry Hogan and executive director of the Maryland Environmental Service, has been indicted on federal fraud charges. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

An attorney for Roy McGrath, a former top aide to Gov. Larry Hogan who has been indicted on federal fraud charges, is asking for a postponement of his criminal trial.

Joseph Murtha, in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Boardman, asked for the delay a week after a motions hearing. Murtha said three pieces of evidence turned over since that hearing have hampered preparations for the trial.

“The untimely production of the most recent discovery has distracted undersigned counsel from focusing on pretrial preparation, and Mr. McGrath has expressed serious and rational concerns that he is being forced to consider the most recent discovery productions just days before the trial is to commence,” Murtha wrote in the letter.

In that letter, Murtha wrote that prosecutors had turned over two pieces of evidence on Oct. 7, four days before a motions hearing. Then, on Oct. 14, prosecutors provided an additional disclosure. Murtha did not identify the contents of either in his letter.

The trial for McGrath, a former chief of staff to Hogan, is set to start on Oct. 24 before Boardman in Baltimore.

He faces an eight-count federal indictment. Among the charges are wire fraud, including improperly securing a $233,648 severance payment equal to one year of salary as the head of the quasi-governmental Maryland Environmental Service. He also faces fraud and embezzlement charges connected to tens of thousands of dollars in expenses and failure to take vacation time while vacationing in Florida and on a cruise to Spain, France and Italy.

A final charge involves allegations that he falsified a memo that purports to show Hogan was informed of McGrath’s severance arrangement and signed off on the deal. Hogan has vigorously denied he approved the severance and is scheduled to be a government witness in the trial.

“In the event that the court believes that the request to reschedule this matter is not reasonable, I request that the trial date be delayed for one week in order … to have an adequate amount of time to review the discovery with Mr. McGrath,” Murtha wrote.

Murtha added that McGrath was unable to communicate regularly with him because of Hurricane Ian. McGrath lives in Naples, Florida.

Additionally, Murtha said, his client was anticipating returning to Maryland on Friday “not anticipating he would be required to review three additional productions of discovery.” The evidence turned over by prosecutors could not be shared with McGrath in Florida because of a written agreement with prosecutors to not distribute copies, Murtha said.

Murtha, during a motions hearing a week ago, told Boardman that prosecutors have given him “enough to keep me busy.” He added that getting through the evidence turned over by prosecutors moved slower than expected. He said that he recently was unable to locate some of those items.

Prosecutors agreed to replace the items, which likely included phones calls allegedly recorded by McGrath that might be used in the federal trial. Those same recordings are the subject of wiretapping charges against McGrath in state court.

“I would ask for some additional time, maybe a day or two,” Murtha asked Boardman at the time.

Murtha said the additional time would allow him to identify specific portions of the calls that might be used in trial.

Prosecutors also told Boardman last week that they were providing some additional evidence. Some of this is possibly from the phone of a former deputy at the Maryland Environmental Service. Beth Wojton, a former deputy director of the agency under McGrath, provided her cellphone, including text messages with other employees and board members, to prosecutors. Wojton is expected to be called as a witness.