Former Maryland state delegate Cheryl D. Glenn, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking nearly $34,000 in bribes, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison after emotional testimony about her career in public service from the Baltimore native and her family.
Glenn, who was first elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2006, resigned from the legislature in December before the U.S. attorney for Maryland announced the charges against her.
She pleaded guilty in January to taking bribes related to her cannabis advocacy, including accepting money in exchange for her support on measures that included preferential treatment for Maryland-based cannabis companies and expanded licensing for out-of-state marijuana companies, among other things. The money came in five payments over the course of a year in 2018 and 2019.
During the sentencing hearing, Glenn, 69, and her attorney, William C. Brennan, said she acted out of desperation after events including the death of her husband brought her financial hardship.
“It is hard to accept that I allowed my circumstances to blind me,” Glenn said. “One year, one year of my life out of a total of 69, I absolutely messed up.”
But prosecutors called Glenn a “corrupt politician.”
“She chose to monetize the position she assumed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise said. “Without exaggerating, Delegate Glenn sold her vote on a bill that literally had her mother’s name on it.”
While in office, Glenn, a Democrat, served as chair of the Baltimore City delegation and the Legislative Black Caucus. She advocated for the inclusion of minority businesses in the state’s marijuana industry and sponsored the bill that created Maryland’s medical marijuana program. The program was named for Glenn’s mother, Natalie M. LaPrade, who died of kidney cancer and could not access the drug to ease her symptoms.
Brennan said he did not believe it was “necessary to incarcerate a person who has otherwise lived an exemplary life.” He noted that Glenn had endured poverty and homelessness as a child in Baltimore, survived domestic violence at multiple points in her life and was the core of her family unit, which includes children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“My client’s most severe humiliation has been facing her family,” Brennan said. “When you put all of these factors together, your honor, look at where Ms. Glenn came from . . . that person, your honor, I think has learned her lesson.”
He asked the judge to allow Glenn to serve her time on home detention. But Blake said she did not believe home detention sufficiently matched the severity of her crimes.
“This was not a one-time lapse, it was not a momentary giving into temptation. It was a deliberate scheme,” Blake said.
Though Brennan had argued that his client’s age and health made her especially susceptible to the novel coronavirus, the judge sentenced Glenn to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. As a compromise, Blake said Glenn did not need to surrender until Sept. 21, and the date could be extended based on the severity of the pandemic.
The judge told the court she had taken into consideration the good Glenn had done for the community and the struggles she had overcome in her life.
“In many ways, the heights to which she was able to rise just magnify the tragedy of what she has done to violate the public trust,” Blake said.
Nearly 70 pages of letters were submitted to the court supporting Glenn, Blake said, and three of the former lawmaker’s family members joined the virtual hearing to speak on her behalf. They described a woman who raised her children and grandchildren with a strong moral compass and heart for service.
Growing up, according to the testimony from her family, Glenn told them to stay out of trouble, often saying, “We don’t do jail.”