Baltimore businessman admits to bribing former lawmaker

A Baltimore businessman has pleaded guilty to two federal charges stemming from bribes totaling $42,500 that he paid to a former state lawmaker while she was still in office

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore businessman pleaded guilty Monday to two federal charges stemming from bribes totaling $42,500 that he paid to a former state lawmaker while she was still in office.

Lance Andre Lucas pleaded guilty to federal honest services wire fraud and a travel act violation, admitting to bribing former state Del. Cheryl Diane Glenn. The veteran Democratic lawmaker and leading advocate of marijuana legalization pleaded guilty in January to accepting more than $33,000 in bribes from people other than Lucas.

“Yes, your honor,” Lucas responded when questioned repeatedly by the federal judge, including whether he understood the charges against him. Lucas, 44, was charged by information, which is a type of charging document prosecutors use when a defendant has waived being indicted by a grand jury.

Glenn is one of three elected officials who have recently faced federal public corruption charges in Maryland. Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced last month to three years in prison for fraudulent sales of her self-published children’s books used to promote her political career, while former state Del. Tawanna Gaines was sentenced to six months in prison in January for misusing campaign funds for her personal benefit.

Lucas made 11 payments to Glenn, starting with four money orders, each for $500, on May 2018 after he told her about the significant costs that an unnamed company had incurred in its pursuit of a medical marijuana dispensary license. During a lunch meeting in Baltimore, Glenn suggested she would have drafted a bill benefiting the company had he paid her the money spent in the effort to get the license, according to the charging document.

Lucas paid the bulk of the money after Glenn had already been interviewed by FBI agents in February 2019 and admitted to receiving $33,750 in exchange for granting various legislative favors, including work relevant to the marijuana industry. Lucas’ attorney, Jerry Tarud, after the hearing said some of his clients’ interactions with Glenn were wiretapped.

The charging document states that Lucas in March 2019 even offered to pay Glenn up to $80,000 to help a different unnamed company secure a medical marijuana growing license. Days after that conversation, Lucas gave Glenn $1,000 in cash, and two weeks later, she told him that she “got a guy on the inside” of the state’s Medical Marijuana Cannabis Commission that would give his company “an advantage during the application process.”

The commission oversees all licensing of the state’s medical marijuana program. It is named after Glenn’s late mother, Natalie M. LaPrade.

Tarud said his client is “very remorseful” and “apologetic.” He wouldn’t say how his client is associated with the company seeking the marijuana growing license.

Glenn, who was first elected in 2006, chaired the Baltimore City delegation and previously headed the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. She resigned days before her charges were unsealed in December. After her plea hearing in January, she gave long hugs to the two federal agents investigating her case.

Lucas is scheduled to be sentenced June 10. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the honest services wire fraud charge and a maximum of five years on the travel act charge.

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