In newly revealed court documents, federal prosecutors say indicted democratic Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks admitted to taking cash payments and trips to Vegas in exchange for official business.
The Baltimore Sun reported on Friday that the new revelations emerged in a recently filed court document in the ongoing criminal case against Sen. Oaks. A trial for Sen. Oaks is set for mid-April, where he faces charges of bribery and obstruction of justice. So far, Sen. Oaks has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Sen. Oaks, a Baltimore Democrat, has a long history of corruption in Maryland politics. He was a member of the House of Delegates from 1983 to 1989 when he forfeited his seat after being convicted of stealing from his campaign. In 1994, Sen. Oaks was reelected, as fraud and politicians in Baltimore are one of the same. Recently, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan appointed Sen. Oaks to the State Senate when Lisa Gladden fell ill.
Recent court documents show Sen. Oaks was accused of taking $15,300 in cash from a “wealthy Texas businessman,” who actually was working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After agreeing to cooperate with investigators, Sen. Oaks recorded his interactions with an unidentified person in a pay-to-play scheme.
After agreeing to cooperate with investigators, Oaks recorded himself accepting a $2,600 cash payment from an FBI target under a table at an Annapolis restaurant in March 2017 and told the target he would talk to legislators about a bill favorable to the bail-bond industry, federal prosecutors wrote.
The person who gave the $2,600 to Oaks, identified in court papers only as “Person #1,” was confronted by the FBI, and prosecutors say he admitted paying Oaks and another undisclosed elected official thousands of dollars over the years. The person paid for parties hosted by Oaks, as well as round-trip flights and hotel rooms in Las Vegas, according to documents.
According to the court filings, “Person #1” told the FBI, he was paying Sen. Oaks for his political power to support pro-bail bonds legislation. Maryland ranks number three in the United States for bail bonds companies contributing to political campaigns. It was revealed this “Person #1” paid for lavish parties and Vegas trips for the Senator.
The person targeted by the FBI using Oaks told authorities that he needed the senator to support legislation favorable to the bail-bond industry, according to court documents. The documents say the person had ownership interests in a bail bond business as well as a company that provided home health care services.
The role of cash bail in pretrial release was one of the most heavily debated and aggressively lobbied issues of the 2017 session.
After a Court of Appeals ruling that limited the role of cash bail in pretrial release decisions, members of the bail-bond industry mounted a lobbying campaign to persuade the General Assembly to block or at least weaken the decision, which they believed threatened their business.
Glancing at the bail bonds industry in Baltimore. One finds it is a highly lucrative industry profiting from the war-torn streets. Data below (2011-2015):
Court filings also showed Sen. Oaks spoke with Del. Curt Anderson, chairman of the Baltimore House delegation, at Person #1’s request. There was no mention of what Sen. Oaks and Anderson might have discussed.
Anderson said it is likely that both of them spoke at some point, but said he did not recall Sen. Oaks “trying to persuade” him on favorable bail bonds legislation.
Federal prosecutors have been carefully watching the senator since 2014, “based on historical reporting that Oaks was associated with individuals who were involved in illegal activities, and that Oaks had inappropriately accepted money and other things of value from businesspersons and lobbyists in his capacity as a state delegate.”
The Baltimore Sun concludes,
Oaks was indicted in April 2017 on wire fraud charges, and was charged in the fall with obstruction of justice for tipping off the FBI target. The federal prosecutors’ new details about the case were revealed in a motion opposing Oaks’ attorneys request that the bribery and obstruction charges be tried separately.
Has the swamp draining started in Baltimore? If so, it’s badly needed…