ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A former Maryland political aide who failed to appear for his trial on federal corruption charges died after suffering two gunshot wounds — one of them self-inflicted — as FBI agents closed in on him in Tennessee, according to an autopsy report made public Friday.
Authorities said agents acted in self-defense, and there will be no charges against any of the agents involved.
Roy McGrath died on April 4 near Knoxvillle, Tennessee, after he failed to appear at Baltimore’s federal courthouse for his March 13 trial.
“One of the gunshot wounds was self-inflicted and the other gunshot wound was not; however due to a prolonged survival interval after sustaining the wounds and ultimately dying in the hospital, it cannot be determined which gunshot wound killed him, and therefore the cause of death is ‘gunshot wounds of the head’ and manner of death is ‘could not be determined,’” the autopsy report said.
Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said in a news release that the agent who shot McGrath was acting in self-defense.
“In this case, it is clear that agents had probable cause and a reasonable belief that McGrath posed a threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury,” Allen’s office said in the release.
The news release also provided details about what happened leading up to the FBI agents closing in on McGrath. FBI agents in Baltimore asked if Knoxville agents could arrest McGrath, and they provided a copy of the warrant, a description of McGrath’s vehicle, and information about McGrath’s location.
When agents responded, they found McGrath’s vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop when the vehicle left a parking lot, according to the release. Despite the lights and sirens of the agents’ vehicles, McGrath continued to drive until he was boxed in between two other businesses.
Agents approached the vehicle and repeatedly announced, “FBI,” and ordered McGrath to put his hands out the open driver’s side window, the release said, but McGrath replied, “No,” and, “I have a gun, and it’s loaded.”
Agents saw McGrath with a handgun raised to his right temple, and the way McGrath held the handgun placed agents within the trajectory of McGrath’s gun, causing one agent to believe McGrath posed a threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to himself and other agents, the release said.
“Simultaneously, McGrath fired his gun striking his right temple, and the agent fired one round striking McGrath’s left cheek. Agents immediately called for an ambulance. EMTs arrived and transported McGrath to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where he was pronounced dead thirty minutes later,” the release said.
McGrath, 53, served as chief of staff to former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. He was declared a wanted fugitive after his disappearance.
After McGrath failed to appear at Baltimore’s federal courthouse on March 13, his attorney 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.
A superseding indictment in June 2022 added falsification of records to the wire fraud and theft charges, according to the Justice Department. According to that indictment, McGrath created a fake memo from Hogan that approved McGrath’s severance pay from the environmental service.
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