Federal prosecutors are seeking a three-year prison sentence for former state Del. Cheryl D. Glenn for accepting $33,750 in bribes from different entities to introduce favorable legislation in Annapolis.
Glenn, a Baltimore City Democrat who resigned from the legislature in December, pleaded guilty last year to charges of wire fraud and bribery. She admitted to soliciting and accepting bribes between March 4, 2018, and Feb. 11, 2019, in four separate schemes.
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.
Glenn, now 69, was a leading advocate in the General Assembly for the legalization and expansion of the medical cannabis industry in the state. Her sentencing, which will be done virtually, has been set for next Wednesday. It was originally scheduled for May 8 but was put off due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Glenn was a year into her fourth term as delegate representing East Baltimore 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, Dels. Hattie Harrison and 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.
She is a former chair of both the Baltimore City House delegation and the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.
In their memo calling for a three-year prison term, federal prosecutors suggest that Glenn did not “succumb to temptation” but was actively soliciting bribes from people in the cannabis industry and other business sectors. Prosecutors argued that Glenn’s activities were “part of a pattern where the Defendant monetized her official position.”
Glenn, the sentencing document goes on, “evidently believed she was entitled to more than her legislator’s salary for her role in the genesis of this new sector of Maryland’s economy.”
Glenn’s defense attorney, William C. Brennan Jr., has asked that the ex-lawmaker be sentenced to home confinement because of her advanced age and potential vulnerability to the coronavirus.
“Such a sentence will provide that Ms. Glenn is punished for her criminal conduct yet also take into account Ms. Glenn’s significant accomplishments, her age and her health,” Brennan’s memo said.
The defense attorney also suggests that Glenn be given leniency because of her life and career trajectory.
“Ms. Glenn’s life story is extraordinary,” the memo states. “She overcame tremendous hardships as a child, young woman and mature adult to rise to a position of respect through her extensive public service. Some of her personal trials and tribulations are particularly noteworthy.”
The memo went on to describe a history of domestic abuse, violence, education interruptions, broken marriages, and poverty.
“Ms. Glenn has not lived a sophisticated or glamorous life,” Brennan wrote. “She does not own luxurious homes, drive expensive automobiles, wear fancy clothes, purchase
opulent jewelry, or take exotic vacations.”
But prosecutors rejected these arguments, asserting that Glenn’s conduct “demands more than a ‘slap on the wrist.'”
Glenn’s defense team plans to present several letters of support to U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake from former colleagues, including Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore City), Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), who succeeded Glenn as chairman of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Benjamin T. Brooks (D-Baltimore County), Del. Edith J. Patterson (D-Charles), former Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden (D-Baltimore City) and former Sen. Barbara A. Robinson (D-Baltimore City).
Two summers ago, as a legislative ethics panel investigated multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Anderson and the Maryland Democratic Party refused to include the lawmaker on political mailings, Glenn said Anderson’s case had parallels to Emmett Till’s 1955 lynching and the five young African-American men improperly accused of raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989.
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors compared Glenn’s misdeeds to that of former state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D-Baltimore City), who was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for accepting bribes from an FBI informant posing as a real estate developer, and former Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), who got a three-year sentence on federal fraud charges for income generated by her “Healthy Holly” books.
After serving about half of his sentence, Oaks was released into home detention a few weeks ago. Pugh reported to a federal prison in Alabama in late June.
“Oaks’s conviction and sentence of incarceration was not enough to deter then-Delegate Glenn,” the prosecutors wrote. “So what will it take to deter other politicians? Certainly not home confinement. Indeed, the Defendant’s conduct, which again, occurred after Oaks’s, suggests longer terms of incarceration, not shorter ones, are necessary to achieve adequate deterrence.”
William F. Zorzi contributed to this report.