The manhunt for Roy McGrath stretches into the weekend with no indication that federal authorities have leads to the whereabouts of the fugitive former Maryland official.
U.S. Marshals and FBI agents have sought McGrath since Monday when he failed to show up in federal court in Baltimore for his fraud trial. In the days since, agents searched his house in Naples, Florida, seized his wife’s cellphone and circulated “wanted” posters with photos of the slim 53-year-old in a business suit.
The former head of the Maryland Environmental Service and chief of staff to Gov. Larry Hogan, McGrath went missing ahead of trial on charges of fraud, theft and falsifying records.
The marshals will continue to interview McGrath’s family and neighbors in his gated community of Raffia Preserve, a department spokesman said.
“We’re going to do everything we can to develop investigative leads and bring this offender to justice,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Albert Maresca Jr. said in a statement.
The marshals were working Friday to collect information on McGrath and develop a fugitive profile, Maresca added. He encouraged members of the public with information to call the department’s tip line.
Maresca has declined to say if authorities have any leads, such as a ping on a cellphone, license plate, or an ATM withdrawal.
“The release of specific information regarding investigative activities will remain limited until McGrath is taken into custody,” he said in the statement.
Maresca has said authorities have no reason to believe McGrath “is not of sound health.” And yet, the search continues quietly, with no reward money offered.
McGrath’s attorney, Joseph Murtha, has said he could not reach McGrath on the morning of his trial and that hopes his client is safe.
When McGrath did not appear Monday, FBI agents placed a concerned phone call to Florida and asked sheriff’s deputies to perform a welfare check at his home.
“We’re concerned that something may have happened,” an FBI agent said, in a recording obtained by The Baltimore Banner. “He doesn’t have any kind of violent criminal past, but we are concerned he may have committed suicide at this point.”
“This is unlike him to not be responsive,” the agent added.
In McGrath’s gated community, law enforcement came and went throughout the week. A neighbor’s cellphone video from Wednesday morning showed officers in tactical equipment approaching McGrath’s house with their guns drawn. They led his wife, Laura Bruner, into the street. A source with knowledge of the investigation said officers seized her cellphone. She has not been accused of a crime.
McGrath resigned as Hogan’s chief of staff amid controversy over a payout of more than $233,000 that he negotiated when he transferred to the governor’s office from the environmental service. An investigation found McGrath carried out a scheme to enrich himself personally by defrauding the government, according to prosecutors.
The prosecution alleges McGrath used environmental service money to pay a personal pledge to an Eastern Shore art museum, improperly had the environmental service pay for a leadership course at Harvard University, misled environmental service employees to pay him severance, claimed on his timecards that he was working when he was really on vacation, and faked a memo that purported to show Hogan approved of the severance payment.
A federal grand jury indicted McGrath in October 2021. He was also charged in Anne Arundel Circuit Court with misconduct in office, embezzlement and wiretapping. Prosecutors have accused him of recording other government officials — including Hogan — without their consent.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo approved pretrial release for McGrath and set the conditions. He was ordered to surrender his passport and report on a regular basis to the court. McGrath was permitted to travel to Maryland and Florida, or elsewhere if approved by the court, and could not possess a firearm.
Judges and attorneys say it’s routine for pretrial release to be granted to defendants like McGrath, who have no previous criminal history and no record of violence.