Federal Charges Filed Against Maryland State Senator for Accepting Payments in Exchange for Official Actions
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal criminal complaint was filed today charging Maryland State Senator Nathaniel Thomas Oaks, age 70, of Baltimore, Maryland, with honest services wire fraud for allegedly accepting illegal payments in exchange for using his official position or influence to benefit an individual on business-related matters. Oaks’ initial appearance is scheduled today at 4:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark J. Coulson in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Maryland.
The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Oaks was a Maryland State Delegate representing District 41 (Baltimore City) from 1994 until being appointed to the Maryland Senate in February 2017, representing the same District.
The affidavit alleges that on September 21, 2015, a cooperating individual (the Cooperator) introduced Oaks to an FBI confidential human source (the CHS) who portrayed himself as an out-of-town businessperson interested in obtaining contracts in the City of Baltimore through a minority-owned business (the Company). The Company is a real business that is operated by a different cooperating defendant who is assisting the FBI with the investigation. The meeting took place at a restaurant in Pikesville, Maryland, and was consensually recorded by the Cooperator and the CHS. During the meeting, Oaks offered to assist the CHS with business development in Maryland.
During the months following the September 21, 2015 meeting between the CHS and Oaks, the CHS consensually recorded numerous telephone and in-person conversations with Oaks during which they discussed possible development and business-related opportunities that may be available to the CHS in Maryland. One such opportunity was a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project (the Project) that the CHS told Oaks that he was interested in developing in the City. Oaks told the CHS that he wanted to help with the HUD project.
According to the affidavit, on March 16, 2016, the CHS discussed paying Oaks for his assistance. The affidavit alleges that, in the Spring and Summer of 2016, Oaks knowingly sent two letters on his official Maryland House of Delegates letterhead supporting the Project. The letters allegedly contained false statements about Oaks’ relationship to the CHS and Oaks’ involvement and knowledge of the Project. The CHS paid Oaks $10,300 for his assistance.
Further, the affidavit alleges that September 22, 2016, the CHS made another $5,000 cash payment to Oaks in exchange for Oaks filing a bond bill with the Maryland Department of Legislative Services (DLS) requesting $250,000 for the Project, which Oaks filed later that same day. On November 21, 2016, the CHS received a forwarded email from Oaks that had been sent to Oaks by a DLS employee, attaching a draft of the bill to establish a $250,000 bond to be used for the Project.
All the money paid to Oaks by the CHS was supplied by the FBI and the meetings were recorded using audio/video recording equipment.
If convicted, Oaks faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for honest services wire fraud.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen O. Gavin and Leo J. Wise, who are prosecuting the case.