Md. State Senator Nathaniel Oaks indicted on federal corruption charges
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) -- Maryland State Senator Nathaniel Oaks has been indicted for accepting illegal payments in exchange for using his position to broker business deals.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore announced the federal wire charge Friday which results from a two year investigation when Oaks was a member of the House of Delegates.
An affidavit alleges Oaks was paid more than $10,000 for his help with development and business opportunities.
One deal was a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development project and a confidential FBI source expressed interest in.
Federal authorities say Oaks was also paid another $5,000 for filing a bond bill in the legislature.
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.
Oaks was first elected to the House in the 1980's and was appointed to the state senate earlier this year to replace Senator Lisa Gladden, who resigned due to health problems.
Senate President Mike Miller said Oaks approached him Friday morning to notify him about the indictment.
Miller said Oaks asked him "what should I do? And I said I think you should turn yourself in and he didn't want to be a distraction and he didn't want to bring disrepute upon the Senate."
Miller adds "Obviously we're very disappointed, shocked."
When asked about Senator Oaks' indictment, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said "It's very concerning obviously, and it's ironic but today they're (senators) actually voting on our ethics bill. But I don't have any details, and I would just left the investigation take its course."
The state senate gave final approval Friday to the Governor's ethics bill.
Senate President Mike Miller offered his own amendment which increases the penalties for public officials convicted of corruption.
"This is just to say we have zero tolerance for bribery in the State of Maryland," said Miller.
But Delegate Curt Anderson, a Democrat who represents Baltimore City, is coming to Senator Oaks' defense.
Anderson says "Nathaniel Oaks is a friend of mine, I like him and I've read the complaint. It seems like he did everything he was supposed to, he filed income tax for all the money that he got, he listed to the ethics people, so everybody deserves their day in court and he'll have his."
Senator Oaks' made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore Friday afternoon.