BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An influential state senator is facing federal charges.
A criminal complaint alleges that 70-year-old Senator Nathaniel Oaks used his position to help a businessman. But, that person was actually a government informant.
This investigation into Senator Oaks took months. According to the criminal complaint, the investigators had been tracking the senator since 2015, and they used recording devices to gather evidence against him.
Senator Oaks walked into a federal courthouse Friday. He’s accused of using his position to help a businessman in return for cash. But that developer was actually working with the FBI, recording conversations.
A 21-page criminal complaint alleges the informant told the senator he wanted to buy Baltimore properties for a quote.
“Pennies on the dollar,” implying he needed the senator’s influence in the city.
According to the complaint, in December 2015, the informant recorded a phone conversation with the senator.
Informant: “When I come in town, I’m looking to make some money now. I think I know the landscape a little bit.
Senator Oaks: “Okay. Plus, there’s something else. Once you get in town, I don’t wanna necessarily talk a whole lot of stuff on the phone, but when you get in town, there’s another kind of thing I wanna, wanna kind of talk to you about. See if you interested in it.”
The complaint says the senator went on to say:
“A guy I know who helped me out on some things, he got some property and he want to develop it in the area you talking about. I wanna take you by there and see if I can hook you all up.”
Federal prosecutors accuse the senator of taking more than $15,000 in cash from the informant. In return, the senator is alleged to have written two letters supporting the businessman and pushing through a $250,000 dollar bond bill to benefit the developer.
On Friday, the senator had no comment after the judge notified him of the allegations, but, his attorneys denied all the charges.
Former state delegate Jill Carter was there to support.
“I sat next to delegate, now Senator Oaks for 14 years and this was something that I just wanted to be present for and show some kind of support.”
The senator was allowed to leave court on Friday, until his next appearance. But he has some limitations, for example, he has to turn over his passport, as he’s not allowed to leave the country.
The senator was just appointed to his seat this year but prior to that, he was a delegate for more than 20 years. He was appointed to be a Maryland senator to replace Lisa Gladden.
The complaint said the senator even got a pre-paid phone because he suspected the FBI was listening.
He was notified of the charges against him, but his attorneys deny them. Senator Oaks was released on certain conditions. One of them being, he is not allowed to travel outside of the country.