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Former Md. governor’s aide Roy McGrath found in Tennessee after 3-week search, has self-inflicted gunshot wound, sources say

Roy McGrath, pictured in April 2020. (Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun/TNS)

The search for fugitive Roy McGrath, who served briefly as former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s top aide, ended Monday after McGrath was found in Tennessee, according to people familiar with the situation.

McGrath is suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the sources said. The extent of his injuries is not clear.

McGrath, 53, had been missing since the eve of his federal fraud trial in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore on March 13.

His absence from court prompted the presiding judge to issue a warrant for his arrest, triggering an expansive search by multiple federal law enforcement agencies. Neither the FBI nor the U.S. Marshals Service provided much information about their efforts to locate McGrath.

Most recently, those agencies announced a combined $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture. Labeling the former gubernatorial chief of staff an international flight risk, they circulated photos of McGrath and listed aliases he may be using to evade law enforcement.

The search for the Naples, Florida, resident dates to the morning his trial was supposed to begin and has featured peculiar twists as the hours turned to days and days to weeks with him missing.

McGrath’s defense attorney, Joseph Murtha, has maintained that they planned to meet at the courthouse in downtown Baltimore a few minutes before McGrath’s arraignment on an additional charge. Murtha believed his client was going to fly to Maryland from his home in Florida the night before.

But that morning, the defense attorney waited outside the courtroom, glued to his cellphone. His calls and texts to McGrath went unanswered.

“I have no idea where he is,” Murtha said on the courthouse steps March 13.

An FBI special agent from Baltimore called the Collier County Sheriff’s Office that morning and asked for deputies to conduct a welfare check at McGrath’s home in Naples.

“He doesn’t have any kind of violent criminal past,” the agent told the sheriff’s deputy who answered the phone. “But we are concerned he may have committed suicide at this point.”

Deputies arrived at McGrath’s house at about 10:25 a.m. that day. They said McGrath was gone.

Back in Maryland, U.S. District Judge Deborah Boardman dismissed prospective jurors waiting to be selected for the weekslong trial. Boardman issued a warrant for McGrath’s arrest because the conditions of his pretrial release, which allowed him to live at home in Florida, mandated he appear for all court dates.

“Perhaps there was some confusion. God forbid something happened to him,” Boardman said in court. “Mr. Murtha, if you hear from your client, please let me know.”

Soon, the marshals service sent out a wanted poster listing McGrath’s height, weight and charges.

According to his indictment, McGrath stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state during his tenure at the helm of the government-owned nonprofit Maryland Environmental Service. Federal prosecutors say he claimed to be working while vacationing; used the organization’s funds to pay for personal expenses, like tuition; and doctored up a $233,000 severance package.

He was also accused of illegally recording a 2020 phone call with several top advisers to Hogan, a Republican who was then about halfway through his second term as governor. Hogan was expected to testify for the prosecution at trial, which was expected to continue for at least three weeks.

McGrath resigned amid a flurry of criticism in April 2020. Later that year, he sold his Edgewater house, which looked over The Golf Club at South River, for $1.29 million and moved to Naples.

He awaited trial there, having surrendered his passport to the clerk’s office in federal court in Fort Myers, Florida.

A U.S. citizen, McGrath was born in Greece, where his mother was from, according to public records and McGrath’s Florida marriage license. It’s not clear whether McGrath maintained Greek citizenship — an official with the Greek Consulate in Washington, D.C., has declined to answer questions.

Despite labeling McGrath an international flight risk, authorities had not as of Friday issued a red notice, or international arrest warrant request, through Interpol.

The maximum penalties of McGrath’s corruption charges add up to decades in prison, but he was unlikely to spend anything close to the rest of his life in prison if convicted of those offenses and, before he fled, he probably wouldn’t have served his time in high-security facilities reserved for violent criminals.

Federal agents armed with long guns, shields and a search warrant raided McGrath’s Florida home March 15 — two days after he did not show up for court. His wife, Laura Bruner, was home and could be seen standing in her driveway while law enforcement entered her house.

Among the items the FBI seized was Bruner’s phone. It’s unclear what else law enforcement recovered.

Amid all the uncertainty came a bizarre development. On March 22, a purportedly tell-all digital book about McGrath’s time as Hogan’s top aide was published on Amazon.

The mysterious author went to great lengths to avoid revealing information that could be used to confirm his identity. Going by the name Ryan C. Cooper, the author released a sequel Friday.


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