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Lance Lucas pleads guilty to bribery of former lawmaker Cheryl Glenn

Lucas, who founded Digit All Systems to offer IT certifications as a way to fight poverty in Baltimore, paid bribes to Glenn for actions on a cyber training program bill and medical marijuana licenses, according to federal authorities.

Digit All Systems founder Lance Lucas at TEDxBaltimore in January.

Lance Lucas, an entrepreneur who has started programs to train Baltimoreans for IT and cybersecurity jobs, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the payment of more than $42,500 in bribes to former Maryland lawmaker Cheryl Glenn, federal authorities said on Monday.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Robert Hur, Lucas, 44, paid bribes to Glenn between May 2018 and July 30 so she would introduce a provision that allowed certain businesses to receive contracts as part of the Cyber Warrior Diversity Program, and help companies obtain licenses from the state’s medical marijuana commission.

Formally, Lucas pleaded guilty to federal honest services wire fraud, and use of an interstate facility to carry on unlawful activity, also known as the Travel Act.

Glenn, who represented Northeast Baltimore’s 45th district in the Maryland General Assembly, became the latest in a string of Baltimore officials — including former mayor Catherine Pugh — to be charged in public corruption cases.

Glenn resigned in December just ahead of being charged with accepting bribery by Hur’s office. The next month, she pleaded guilty in federal court, but the identity of the businessman who bribed her remained unknown. Monday’s plea amounted to that revelation.

“Lance Lucas paid $42,500 to former Maryland Delegate Cheryl Glenn in exchange for official actions, to give his businesses an advantage,” Hur said in a statement. “Legislative decisions should be made in the best interests of the public, not in exchange for bribes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI will continue to hold accountable those who betray the public trust for their own greed.”

Court documents detail a series of meetings between Lucas and Glenn, many of which took place in his Porsche, and 11 payments made by Lucas.

The Cyber Warrior Diversity Program was introduced to help train cybersecurity workers by Digit All City, a company founded by Lucas. It was backed by Northrop Grumman, and the program started at Baltimore’s Morgan State University and Coppin State University in 2017. It was then expanded to more schools in the state with legislation passed the following year. During the effort to get subsequent legislation passed in 2019, Lucas paid bribes to Glenn to introduce a provision that would allow contracts for the program to be awarded “to certain businesses that met specified criteria,” which his company would meet. That provision was not part of the final bill.

The program was among Lucas’ efforts to spread tech and IT training to fight poverty that gained attention around Baltimore. He founded the nonprofit Digit All Systems in 1998 and continued for years to provide instruction that led to IT certifications, according to a profile from 2012: “The only inoculant for poverty is education,” he said then.

Digital All Systems also launched a program to fix computers in underserved areas, and gun buyback events, in which a firearm could be exchanged for a laptop. And he frequently appeared at events where local leaders touted efforts to bridge the digital divide, such as a 2015 laptop donation by the public-private OneBaltimore initiative. He is also a former president of the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce.

Tech was not the only focus of the scheme detailed in court documents. Lucas also paid bribes to Glenn to help two companies, which were not named, with the state’s medical marijuana commission: One was to help a company obtain a dispensary license, while another was to ensure a company’s application for a growers’ license was selected during the commission’s “double-blind” review process.

During the process, authorities said Lucas assured Glenn they would not be caught, saying, “I’m from Baltimore for real, for real Baltimore … This is the least illegal thing I’ve ever done. This is like patty-cake compared to the shit in Baltimore City.”

Lucas’ attorney declined comment on Monday until the case was complete.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 10, and Lucas faces up to 25 years, though the U.S. Attorney’s office notes that actual sentences are “typically less than the maximum penalties.”

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