Could the story of Roy McGrath get any juicer?

Here’s some quick background: McGrath was a longtime ally and aide to Gov. Larry Hogan, and held several prominent positions in Maryland state government.

McGrath was briefly Hogan’s chief of staff in the summer of 2020, but his tenure was cut short after revelations that he took the job only after receiving a severance payment equivalent to full year salary of more than $230,000 approved by the board of Maryland Environmental Service, a quasi-government agency, where he served as CEO.

Lawmakers investigated that payout, and other alleged improprieties surfaced: allegations of forged documents that Hogan approved the payment; and misspent funds on professional development and on a contribution to an art museum.

McGrath was indicted on federal felony theft and wiretapping charges in 2021, and his trial was supposed to start earlier this month. But McGrath, who most recently lived in Florida, never showed up at the courthouse.

His lawyer has said he is concerned for his client’s safety; and the search for McGrath – or perhaps his body – was underway. Suicide was a possibility.

Then this week, the mystery reached new heights when a book titled ‘Betrayed: The True Story of Roy McGrath’ was electronically published on Amazon – authored by someone using the name Ryan Cooper.

No one seems to know who Ryan Cooper is, and there may or may not be a real Ryan Cooper. Someone called back the Baltimore Banner, claiming to be the author, and said they moved from Hagerstown to Florida, became interested in the story and reached out to McGrath to interview him. But that person has not answered subsequent phone calls.

Baltimore Sun reported today that two sample chapters the paper received contain data showing they may have originated on an electronic device used by either McGrath or his wife.

Baltimore Fishbowl obtained a PDF version of the book, and is providing it here as a public service. It’s a quick read (only 51 pages), and packed with plenty of typos and missing words – befitting a self-published work that was rushed to completion.

If you read it, you’ll see it not only offers an explanation for each crime that McGrath is accused of, but it’s also an incredible piece of score-settling. It’s a way for McGrath, via an author who may or may not exist, to try to gain an advantage over many of those he apparently locked horns with inside the Hogan State House.

Consider these descriptions of a few Annapolis players:

Beth Wojton, a former colleague at Maryland Environmental Service: “greedy Bertha…who wrote a poison pen letter to the MES Board because she was disgruntled that she hadn’t been selected by Hogan for Roy’s old job as CEO. A woman so dishonest she hid her real name from everyone, including Roy.”

Jake Weissman, a former top Senate aide: “former Maryland Senate President Mike Miller’s hatchet man.”

Douglas V. Meyer, Hogan’s former deputy communications director: “a bombastic and pompous lightweight, whose only discernable talents seemed to be churning out pithy insults.”

Roy Gunzburger, a political aide to Hogan: “a shrill, Machiavellian man, who manipulated Hogan, and others.”

And Hogan himself: “Larry Hogan made the most selfish act one person can make toward another: he willfully upended Roy McGrath’s life, a life Roy had worked hard and persistently to build for many decades and had faithfully sacrificed and helped Hogan with his sweat and money for years….Larry Hogan needs to be held accountable for his criminal actions.”

It’s easy to imagine that the book was written by McGrath, but the fact that it exists and was published this week – when McGrath is a fugitive and his location is unknown – is startling. Here are a few questions that need answers:

  1. Who is receiving the proceeds from the $4.99 purchase price on Amazon?
  2. Will federal authorities be tracking down the financial accounts used for the book?
  3. Is McGrath still alive, and where is he?
  4. Is the defense of his buyout, his reimbursements, his recording of conversations and more outlined in the book a basis for a defense?

It’s all mind-boggling, and one of the great Maryland political tales in recent years.

David Nitkin is the Executive Editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He is an award-winning journalist, having worked as State House Bureau Chief, White House Correspondent, Politics Editor and Metropolitan Editor...