Breaking News. Man charged with white collar crimes elects not to board plane to Maryland for his arraignment. Police search his Florida home. Wife claims no knowledge of his whereabouts.
Where is he?
The news story captures my imagination. Where is Roy McGrath, former Chief of Staff to former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, hiding? I picture him with forged identity documents chartering a private plane and slipping over the border to Mexico or to an island in the Caribbean, perhaps Aruba or Antiqua. I see him in a loud print cotton shirt sitting in a lounge chair on a deserted beach, contemplatively sipping a rum drink. I’m stuck in a trope, replaying a John Grisham story. A man framed for crimes he didn’t actually commit eludes capture. But is this man actually guilty or innocent?
Charged with theft, fraud, and falsifying records, he evidently didn’t discuss his exit strategy with his wife. She has no idea of his whereabouts. His lawyer Joseph Murtha says, according to the Baltimore Banner, “Roy McGrath never wavered about his innocence.” If that is the case, and he felt he was innocent, then why did he run?
Fugitive Found in Tennessee. Car windows blown out by gunfire, according to eyewitness reports. Man taken on stretcher with gunshot wounds. Dripping blood seen beneath white sheet. Suspect is taken to a nearby hospital. Hours later, Roy McGrath is dead at age fifty-three.
I pull up the pdf of the U.S. Marshalls wanted poster, and stare at it. Slight in size and build, he peers forward in his mug shot from behind rectangular wire glasses.
Was it worth it? The extra money the government claims he took, the unauthorized expenses paid for by the Maryland taxpayers?
Drama. Excitement. A true story TV special or a streaming video series.
And in the middle of it all, during the time Roy McGrath goes missing, the release of a self-published E-Book titled “Betrayed: The True Story of Roy McGrath” written by someone named Ryan C. Cooper, presumably based on McGrath’s own manuscript. Not warmly received by readers, the book only receives 2.8 out of 5 stars, according to the Amazon rating system. Fifty-two pages in length and selling for $4.99, the book purports to portray a behind scenes account of how McGrath was “unfairly harassed by the very government and colleagues he had faithfully served. All at the hands of a corrupt and duplicitous politician, former Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.”
Meanwhile Hogan doesn’t seem fazed by the negative opinions McGrath has of his former employer. According to the Baltimore Banner, “In a statement issued by a spokesman Monday night, Hogan said: “Yumi and I are deeply saddened by this tragic situation. We are praying for Mr. McGrath’s family and loved ones.”
Who is the injured party in this story? I remember my biology teacher in fifth grade explaining mental illness and emotional distress. “Always in life,” she said, “you will face tasks that in the moment you may find challenging, Maybe, it’s the confidence to walk alone to somewhere you’ve never been, but you need to get there, or maybe it’s making new friends. If someone gets stuck and so scared that they are unable to function—they may refuse to get up out of bed, or become unable to communicate, or become physically confrontational, that’s when they need some help.”
Using that perspective, I start thinking about this story differently. So many elements are floating around in my head: entitlement, selfishness, fear, and paranoia. Perhaps the story is not so much about white-collar crime as it is about mental illness. We never fully know or understand all that is going on inside another person’s head.
Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read a story I wrote from two different character’s viewpoints, click here. As always, I appreciate your feedback. Follow and subscribe to this blog on WordPress or Medium and follow me on Twitter at SN Maril.