Baltimore Lawmaker Indicted For Accepting Payments To Help Businesses

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Longtime Baltimore state lawmaker, Nathaniel T. Oaks, has been indicted for accepting cash payments in exchange for using his previous position in the House of Delegates to help him with business.

Oaks was indicted on charges of wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, and violations of the Travel Act.

According to the criminal complaint, the investigators had been tracking the senator since 2015, and they used recording devices to gather evidence against him.

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.

“The legal term is predication,” said acting U.S. Attorney Steve Schenning. “Certainly the United States Attorney’s Office doesn’t pick somebody out of a hat. There are facts that suggest that this person is a person who’s conduct ought to be examined.”

Oaks served 30 years in the House of Delegates representing District 41, and in February was appointed to take the seat of former Sen. Lisa Gladden, who stepped down for health.

He served two terms in the House of Delegates, when in 1989, he was convicted of stealing more than $10,000 from his re-election fund, as well as perjury and misconduct in office. He was given a five-year suspended sentence and was ordered to perform 500 hours of community service.

Oaks returned to the legislature in 1994 and has served ever since.

According to the indictment, in September 2015 Oaks met with an FBI confidential source and agreed to assist the source with business development in Maryland.

Between April and July of 2016 the indictment states Oaks issued false and fraudulent letters on his house of delegates letterhead to obtain federal funds for the FBI source, who paid Oaks more than $10,000 for his help.

Then in September of last year the indictment states Oaks filed a request for $250,000 in state funds for the source’s project. He received $5,000 in cash.

According to the FBI, all contacts between Oaks and their confidential source were recorded.

“Really a textbook example of pay to play. Go to this delegate and if you wanted his assistance then you have to pay him cash and he’ll help you. And that’s just sort of against every notion of what elected officials are supposed to be doing,” Schenning said.

The indictment is not a finding of guilt and an individual is presumed innocent. WJZ contacted Oak’s lawyer, who had no comment.

This year the General Assembly tightened state ethics regulations.

Oaks faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, 20 years in prison for honest services wire fraud, and five years in prison for each count of the Travel Act.

The senator’s court appearance has not been scheduled yet.

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