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An ex-aide to Maryland's former governor is dead after a manhunt, lawyer says

Roy McGrath, chief executive officer of the Maryland Environmental Service, speaks during a news conference at the State House in Annapolis, Md., on April 15, 2020.
Pamela Wood
/
AP
Roy McGrath, chief executive officer of the Maryland Environmental Service, speaks during a news conference at the State House in Annapolis, Md., on April 15, 2020.

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

Attorney Joseph Murtha said the FBI confirmed Roy McGrath's death to him. He added that it was not immediately clear if McGrath's wound was self-inflicted or came during an exchange of gunfire with agents.

The FBI had said earlier that McGrath, once a top aide to a former Maryland governor, had been hospitalized following an agent-involved shooting, but declined to elaborate.

William Brennan, an attorney for McGrath's wife, Laura Bruner, also confirmed the death and said she was "absolutely distraught."

According to an email earlier from FBI Supervisory Special Agent Shayne Buchwald in Maryland, McGrath was wounded during "an agent-involved shooting" around 6:30 p.m. in a commercial area on the southwestern outskirts of Knoxville, Tennessee. Buchwald said McGrath was taken to a hospital.

Further details, including how McGrath was wounded and what led up to it, were not immediately released. The shooting was under investigation.

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

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.

In a statement, Hogan said he and his wife, Yumi, "are deeply saddened by this tragic situation. We are praying for Mr. McGrath's family and loved ones."

Murtha called the death "a tragic ending to the past three weeks of uncertainty" and said his client always maintained his innocence.

After McGrath failed to appear at Baltimore's federal courthouse on March 13, Murtha said he believed 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.

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 was also accused of fraud and embezzlement connected to roughly $170,000 in expenses. McGrath pleaded not guilty.

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

If convicted of the federal charges, he would have 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.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press