Bryan P. Sears//October 20, 2022
//October 20, 2022
A federal judge ordered a postponement Thursday in the fraud trial of a former top aide to Gov. Larry Hogan.
U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Boardman granted a motion by Roy McGrath’s attorney made earlier this week. McGrath’s trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 24. A new trial date has not been set.
Boardman said she was granting the delay because of “the most recent production” of text messages, which account for 1,800 pages, and thousands more pages of emails released by the law firm that assisted a General Assembly committee’s investigation of McGrath and his time and severance pay from Maryland Environmental Services.
“Mr. McGrath has a Sixth Amendment right to counsel that includes the ability and time necessary to investigate a defense. The government has been investigating this case for over a year now, trial has been scheduled since June, and the materials were just recently produced to the defense, who only has one attorney working on the case and needs more time to review them and to decide if any follow up investigation is necessary,” said Boardman.
McGrath 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.
McGrath also faces related charges at the state level including nine for violating state wiretap laws.
Joseph Murtha, an attorney representing McGrath, Tuesday wrote Boardman asking for the delay saying it was necessary to review more than 8,800 pages of documents recently turned over by prosecutors.
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Murtha, in his letter, asked Boardman to consider at least a one-week delay if she concluded that his request for a postponement was unreasonable.
“I’m just literally hobbled at this time to try to effectively represent Mr. McGrath if forced to go to trial with this amount of information that has just recently been disclosed but not truly reviewed, addressed or acted upon,” Murtha said Thursday.
Murtha told Boardman he is but one attorney hired to represent McGrath facing a team of prosecutors with three lawyers and a support staff. In an earlier hearing, he told Boardman that he has had issues maintaining a consistent staff of paralegals.
Prosecutors argued that the amount of documents turned over, while sounding overwhelming, was either information already available to Murtha in other formats or was repetitive. Prosecutors argued that only about 5% of the documents represented new information.
They they asked Boardman to consider limiting any delay, if granted, to one week.
“We’re really talking about looking at three boxes of material,” said Joyce McDonald, an assistant U.S. Attorney. “It’s just not that overwhelming as Mr. Murtha would like to characterize it.”
Murtha told Boardman that even if prosecutors were right in their assessment of the documents “doesn’t lessen my load, so to speak.”
Boardman, in a brief telephone hearing Thursday, sided with Murtha and granted a delay. A new trial date was not set.