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Former Maryland governor’s top aide dies in FBI shooting confrontation after three-week manhunt

Roy McGrath (COPYRIGHT 2020 PAMELA WOOD)
Roy McGrath (COPYRIGHT 2020 PAMELA WOOD)

A former Maryland political aide wanted on corruption charges died Monday after he was wounded while being confronted by law enforcement agents, his wife’s lawyer said, following a manhunt that was launched when the man failed to appear for trial.

Roy McGrath, once a top aide to a former Maryland governor, died Monday night, according to attorney William Brennan.

“She’s absolutely distraught,” Mr Brennan said by phone of his client, Lauran Bruner.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Shayne Buchwald in Maryland said in an email earlier that McGrath had been wounded during a shooting involving a law enforcement agent around 6.30pm in a commercial area on the southwestern outskirts of Knoxville, Tennessee. Mr Buchwald said Mr McGrath was taken to a hospital.

Further details, including who shot Mr McGrath and under what circumstances, were not immediately released. The shooting was under investigation.

“The FBI takes all shooting incidents involving our agents or task force members seriously,” said Mr Buchwald, who declined to confirm that Mr McGrath had died.

Mr McGrath, 53, served as chief of staff to former Maryland Gov Larry Hogan. He was declared a wanted fugitive after his disappearance, and the FBI has said he was considered an international flight risk.

An attorney for Mr McGrath, Joseph Murtha, confirmed Monday night that his client was hospitalised in Tennessee but said he couldn’t comment further on his condition or what happened.

After Mr McGrath failed to appear at Baltimore’s federal courthouse on March 13, Mr Murtha said he believed Mr McGrath, who had moved to Naples, Florida, was planning to fly to Maryland the night before. Instead of beginning jury selection, a judge issued an arrest warrant and dismissed prospective jurors.

Mr McGrath was indicted in 2021 on accusations he fraudulently secured a $233,648 severance payment, equal to one year of salary as the head of Maryland Environmental Service, by falsely telling the agency’s board the governor had approved it. He is also accused of fraud and embezzlement connected to roughly $170,000 in expenses. Mr McGrath has pleaded not guilty.

Mr McGrath resigned just 11 weeks into the job as Mr Hogan’s chief of staff in 2020 after the payments became public.

If convicted of the federal charges, he faced a maximum sentence of 20 years for each of four counts of wire fraud, plus a maximum of 10 years for each of two counts of embezzling funds from an organization receiving more than $10,000 in federal benefits.