Former Del. Glenn Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

Former Del. Cheryl D. Glenn on the House floor. Photo by Bruce DePuyt

Former Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore City) pleaded guilty Wednesday to two federal charges stemming from a scheme in which she took $33,750 in bribes in exchange for legislation she introduced and backed in the Maryland General Assembly.

Glenn, 68, a former union and community activist who was at the fore of pushing for legalization and then expansion of medical marijuana in Maryland, was charged with wire fraud and bribery in a federal criminal information dated July 23, 2019, but not unsealed until Dec. 23, five days after she quit the House of Delegates.

Glenn signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on July 16, 2019, admitting to taking the bribes and to the specifics of the scheme. That 20-page document was not available until Thursday morning in U.S. District Court.

FBI agents interviewed Glenn in February 2019, after she received the last of the bribe money, the plea agreement states.

She had represented East Baltimore’s 45th District in the House for 13 years before abruptly resigning her seat without comment last month.

Prosecutors charged that Glenn solicited and took the bribes between March 4, 2018, and Feb. 11, 2019, in four separate schemes, all of which she acknowledged in court. Two of them dealt with medical marijuana legislation and licenses; one with lowering the state qualifications for a methadone clinic medical director; and the fourth, with legislation for a liquor license on Belair Road in Baltimore.

Former Del. Cheryl D. Glenn leaves the federal courthouse in Baltimore Wednesday. Photo by William F. Zorzi.

Glenn, dressed in a light gray pantsuit, pleaded guilty to the two counts during her arraignment and initial appearance before U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake in Baltimore.

“Do you agree you’re guilty of these two offenses?” Blake asked at one point during the proceeding.

“Yes,” Glenn replied, without equivocation.

Blake set sentencing for May 8 and released Glenn until then, after the former delegate surrendered her passport and was processed by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Walking with a cane as she negotiated the steps outside the federal courthouse, Glenn did not comment to the press after the plea, nor did her lawyer, William C. Brennan Jr., a criminal defense attorney based in Greenbelt.

The investigation appears far from over, and there is indication that Glenn has been cooperating with federal investigators.

There are still a host of yet-unnamed individuals mentioned in the criminal information charging Glenn, some of whom appear to have been engaged in illegal activity, including persons paying the bribes.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Derek E. Hines and Leo J. Wise, each of whom have handled public corruption cases in the past, declined comment, as did two FBI agents who sat at the prosecution table during the plea.

But after the proceeding had concluded, the two FBI agents – Special Agent Steven M. Quisenberry and Special Agent Heather H. Grow, both of whom have worked in the agency’s Baltimore Field Office on public corruption cases – embraced Glenn in the courtroom.

The single “honest services wire fraud” charge include four bribery schemes that Glenn:

  1. Took a $3,000 cash bribe on April 20, 2018, for voting in favor of a bill in the 2018 legislative session to increase the number of medical marijuana grower and processing licenses that were available to an out-of-state company. (That payment was made after Glenn showed a delinquent $2,716 property tax bill on her Gardenville home to two businesspersons from Company 1 and a go-between identified in court documents only as Associate 1.)

  2. Took a $5,000 cash bribe on Aug. 23, 2018, after promising to lead an effort to change the state law to give preference to Maryland in-state medical marijuana license applicants. (She split a $10,000 bribe with Associate 1, the criminal information states.)

  3. Took a $5,000 cash bribe on Oct. 22, 2018, for introducing legislation that would decrease the number of years of experience for the medical director of a methadone clinic.

  4. Took $20,750 in cash bribes — $5,000 on Dec. 10, 2018, $750 on Dec. 20, 2018, and $15,000 on Feb. 11, 2019 – for introducing legislation for a new seven-day liquor license in the 5300 block of Belair Road, in District 45. (The $750 on Dec. 20 was payment for an amount Glenn falsely claimed she had been shorted earlier.)

The second count to which Glenn pleaded guilty Wednesday was a single charge of the federal Travel Act in which she used her cellphone – “a facility in interstate commerce” – to exact a bribe as a public official, in violation of Maryland law.

Glenn was a year into her fourth term as delegate when she resigned.

She was first elected to the House in 2006 and was the top vote-getter in the 45th District primary that year, ahead of two incumbents, Del. Hattie Harrison and Del. Talmadge Branch. She continued to lead the ticket in the next three elections, serving in the House of Delegates from Jan. 10, 2007 until resigning her seat Dec. 18, 2019.

Most recently, she was a member of the House Economic Matters Committee and earlier served on the old Environmental Matters Committee. She is a former chair of both the Baltimore City House delegation and the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

Glenn was a labor activist, having headed the City Union of Baltimore (CUB) from 1988-1996, and worked as a field representative and lobbyist for the Baltimore Teachers Union (BTU) from 1997-2003. From 2004-2006 she was a lobbyist for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters.

In 2003, she ran for a Baltimore City Council seat representing East Baltimore’s then-newly redrawn District 2, but lost to incumbent Councilman Nicholas C. D’Adamo Jr. (D).

Twice she was elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention, in 2008 and 2016.

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Editor’s Note: This story was updated Thursday morning to reflect the unsealing of the plea agreement in U.S. District Court. 

William F. Zorzi
Bill Zorzi was a Baltimore Sun reporter and editor for nearly 20 years, focusing on government and politics. An Annapolis bureau veteran, he wrote a weekly column, “The Political Game” for the paper.Zorzi and another former Sun reporter, David Simon, are longtime collaborators on acclaimed television projects, including the HBO series, “The Wire,” and the HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” which dealt with an explosive housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY.