U.S. District Court Friday with accepting cash payments in exchange for using
his position to influence a development project.
pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon to one count of wire fraud. The allegations
stem from an FBI investigation conducted while he was in the House of
Delegates. Federal prosecutors wrote in court documents that Oaks used
his legislative letterhead to misrepresent the status of state funding for a
project in exchange for money.
prosecutors said. He appeared in court Friday in handcuffs, but was
eventually released on his own recognizance.
House of Delegates; his tenure was interrupted for five years starting in 1989
after he was convicted of stealing from his campaign fund.
But he has been a distinctive presence in his trademark kufi cap.
the subject of a different FBI investigation and cooperating with authorities
introduced Oaks to an FBI source, who portrayed himself as an out-of-town
businessman interested in obtaining contracts in Baltimore through a minority-
Chris Steakhouse in Pikesville
in September 2015, authorities
say. During the ensuing months,
they discussed a U.S.
Department of Housing and
Urban Development project,
with Oaks showing the source
potential sites in the city.
my power and my authority to
lead you right into the, to the place where you can do well," Oaks was recorded
saying, according to the complaint.
was enough, "shook his head from side to side and then made an upward
motion with his thumb," the complaint says.
funds from the state for the development project, and he received cash
payments from the FBI source, according to the federal complaint. He also
falsely stated he was sponsoring legislation that would secure state funding,
legislative district on a large vacant lot on Druid Park Lake Drive, and was
paid $5,000 by the source in a hotel room.
assistance on the project, with each payment supplied by the FBI and the
transactions recorded by investigators.
Former Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms was assigned to his
case as a court-appointed lawyer. Oaks said in court that he did not have
enough money to hire an attorney.
was convicted of stealing more than $10,000 from his re-election fund.
He was also convicted of perjury and misconduct in office. He was given a
five-year suspended sentence and ordered to perform 500 hours of
whose jobs are considered part-time, are paid $48,622 annually.
oath of office as a senator, he did so by swearing on a smart phone he
used to call up a biblical passage. His official biography shows that
despite his seniority, he has not chaired any General Assembly
committee or subcommittee.
friend of mine."
same rights as all Americans accused of a crime. "He's innocent until
proven otherwise," she said.
shocked to learn of the charges against Oaks. In a private meeting with
Oaks, Miller advised he turn himself in.
on the Senate, so he and his staff left" Annapolis, said Miller, a Calvert
the final day of the 90-day session on Monday. Miller said he wasn't
worried about the effect of Oaks' absence on legislation that still hangs
in the balance at the end of the session.
charges hanging over his head," Miller said.
senators read the charges, Miller offered an amendment to an ethics bill
increasing the fines for bribery up to $10,000.
he thought it was important to make a statement about holding public
officials to a high standard.
lawbreakers," Miller said. "If they are charged and they are convicted,
they should pay the highest penalty possible."
corruption will end the same way when it adjourns Monday. When the
legislature convened on Jan. 11, Del. Michael Vaughn abruptly resigned
for what he said were health reasons. He was indicted in March on federal
corruption charges involving the Prince George's County liquor board.
pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in the same corruption investigation
for actions he took while serving on the Prince George's County Council. Also
, Gary Brown, an aide to Pugh, lost his nomination to represent Baltimore
in the House after he was charged with campaign finance violations.
criticized their actions as being part of a culture of corruption in Annapolis.
under the supervision of the State Ethics Commission. The Assembly rejected
that approach on constitutional grounds, but a rewritten version of the
legislation is moving toward final passage. It would still represent the most
comprehensive revision of state ethics law in more than a decade.
that based on his reading of the criminal complaint, the case against Oaks
didn't look especially strong.
think in this case Oaks has a chance of maintaining his innocence through
a criminal trial," Anderson said.
which Oaks is a member, said Oaks had become a valued member of the panel.
legislation ensuring Baltimore students returning from after-school
activities could ride free on Maryland Transit Administration buses and
said. "He fought real hard for Baltimore city."
was not familiar with the details of the charges against her colleague.