News & Politics

Larry Hogan’s Onetime Chief of Staff Hit With Fraud Charges

The allegations surrounding Roy McGrath could make Hogan's potential 2024 bid even more complicated.

Photograph by Joe Andrucyk/Office of the Governor of the State of Maryland.

Should Larry Hogan realize the dreams of prominent Never Trumpers and launch a long-shot bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination—or merely make Mitch McConnell’s dreams come true with a run for Senate—here’s new a name his political opponents will make sure you know: Roy McGrath. 

The 52-year-old McGrath, who resigned as the Maryland governor’s chief of staff in August of 2020, is now facing a slew of state and federal charges related to his prior role as the executive director of the Maryland Environmental Service corporation. In legal actions announced Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that McGrath hoodwinked state officials into approving his $234,000 severance payment, used state money to cover personal expenses, and falsified timesheets so that it seemed he was working while he was actually on vacation. 

Thomas J. Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, said in a statement that McGrath’s misuse of state funds had ranged  from “personal travel to even obtaining a certificate from one of the most prestigious universities in the nation.” He called McGrath’s alleged actions “self-serving and ultimately self-sabotaging.”

McGrath stands accused of embezzlement, wire fraud, and theft, among other charges. Taken together, the charges carry a maximum sentence of many decades in prison. 

The charges relate to McGrath’s time at the Maryland Environmental Service corporation, a state-owned entity that provides environmental services—such as wastewater management and recycling—to government agencies and private companies throughout the state. McGrath served as its top executive from 2016 to May of 2020. 

Prosecutors allege that McGrath used Maryland Environmental Service funds to cover tuition payments for an executive education program at Harvard Kennedy School and to make a financial contribution to the Academy Art Museum, in Easton, Md., on whose board he sat. More significantly, according to prosecutors, he lied to the Maryland Environmental Service corporation’s board when he was attempting to get a $234,000 severance package paid out, telling them—falsely—that Governor Hogan had personally approved the payment. 

Then, according to prosecutors, McGrath lied to Hogan about the severance, claiming that board members had offered him the payment as part of their normal compensation procedures. McGrath also allegedly tried to delete the discussion of the severance payment from the public minutes of the Maryland Environmental Service corporation’s board meeting. 

Though the actions in question aren’t related to McGrath’s time in the governor’s office, the stench of the allegations is sure to waft into a potential Hogan for president effort. As result, the governor’s one-time chief of staff will become one more obstacle on the already-daunting path that Hogan would find if he tried to get back into the electoral game after his term-limited tenure as governor is over.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.