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Former Baltimore lawmaker charged with bribery, fraud

December 23, 2019 GMT
FILE - In a Wednesday, April 12, 2017 file photo, Delegate Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, calls for a special session to approve additional licenses to grow medical marijuana during a news conference in Baltimore. A two-count indictment unsealed Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 accuses former Baltimore lawmaker Glenn of taking more than $33,000 in bribes in exchange for various legislative actions, including for voting in favor of a measure to increase the number of medical marijuana grower and processing licenses that were availabe to an out-of-state company. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
FILE - In a Wednesday, April 12, 2017 file photo, Delegate Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, calls for a special session to approve additional licenses to grow medical marijuana during a news conference in Baltimore. A two-count indictment unsealed Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 accuses former Baltimore lawmaker Glenn of taking more than $33,000 in bribes in exchange for various legislative actions, including for voting in favor of a measure to increase the number of medical marijuana grower and processing licenses that were availabe to an out-of-state company. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Federal authorities on Monday unsealed charges against a former state lawmaker who represented Baltimore for allegedly taking more than $33,000 in bribes in exchange for various legislative actions, including voting to increase the number of medical marijuana grower and processing licenses available to an out-of-state company.

Cheryl Diane Glenn has been charged with honest services wire fraud and bribery. The veteran Democratic lawmaker, who abruptly resigned her job as a Maryland state delegate Wednesday, had become a leading advocate for legalizing marijuana in Maryland.

“The victims are all of us: taxpayers, the people of Ms. Glenn’s district, indeed, all Marylanders who are represented in the General Assembly ... ,” U.S. Attorney in Maryland Robert Hur said at a news conference. “The people of Maryland expect — and they should expect — that elected officials place the interest of their citizens above their own. Unfortunately, the allegations in the charging document unsealed today show that Ms. Glenn betrayed that public trust.”

Authorities allege Glenn in March 2018 agreed to vote for a bill that would help an unnamed company obtain a medical marijuana license in exchange for $3,000 in cash. She received the money the following month, after the bill passed both chambers, and used it to pay outstanding property taxes.

That bill would end up becoming law. The measure increased the number of grower licenses from 15 to as many as 22. The measure was designed to improve diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry. The legislation also increased the number of weed processor licenses from 15 to 28.

Glenn was charged by information, which is a type of charging document prosecutors use when a defendant has waived being indicted by a grand jury and that may signal a plea deal. The document was signed on July 23 but was not unsealed until Monday.

Hur declined to say whether a plea agreement is in the works with Glenn. Her attorney did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.

The charging document accuses Glenn of splitting a $10,000 bribe with an associate weeks after meeting in June 2018 with a businessperson who wanted to talk about medical marijuana licenses. During the meeting, Glenn allegedly boasted that a medical marijuana company had received a growing license without having high-priced lobbyists because the enterprise knew “God and Cheryl Glenn.” The bribe allegedly came after she agreed to introduce legislation that would give local businesses priority for medical marijuana licenses.

Federal authorities have also accused Glenn of prefiling a measure on October 2018 to lower the required years of experience for medical directors at opioid maintenance therapy clinics from 5 to 2. Authorities say she received $5,000 from a businessperson after she formally introduced the bill in January.

Glenn allegedly received the heftiest bribe in February, when a businessperson seeking a liquor license for a restaurant in her district gave her $15,000 after she introduced a necessary bill. Authorities say the businessperson had given Glenn an initial payment of $5,000 before the measure was introduced.

In total, she is accused of taking $33,750 in bribes.

Glenn, 68, is scheduled to appear in federal court in Baltimore on Jan. 22. Hur also would not say if any businesspeople or associates of Glenn could face charges.

If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the honest services wire fraud charge and five years for the bribery charge.

The state’s medical cannabis commission is named after Glenn’s late mother, Natalie M. LaPrade.

Glenn, who was first elected in 2006, chaired the Baltimore City delegation and previously headed the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. She now joins the list of Maryland public officials who have faced accusations of public corruption in 2019.

Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty last month to federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges involving sales of her self-published children’s books. A month earlier, former state Del. Tawanna Gaines, a Prince George’s County Democrat, pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge after admitting to converting more than $22,000 in campaign money for her personal use.