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Baltimore Sen. Nathaniel Oaks indicted on nine fraud and bribery counts

State Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks has been indicted on nine federal fraud and bribery counts in an action that supersedes the criminal charges brought against him in April.

Oaks, 70, is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to answer the charges within the next week or two, said Schneyder Metellus, a spokesman for the Maryland U.S. attorney's office. No date has been scheduled, he said.

The indictments handed up Wednesday by a federal grand jury follow a criminal complaint filed against Oaks in the final days of the General Assembly session that ended April 10.

That complaint alleged that Oaks committed wire fraud, depriving citizens of honest services. The indictments add three counts of wire fraud and five for violations of the Travel Act, which forbids the use of interstate facilities — in this case, cellphones — in criminal activity.

The veteran Baltimore lawmaker, who served 28 years in the House of Delegates before he was appointed to the Senate in January to fill out the term of Sen. Lisa A. Gladden — who resigned for health reasons — is charged with taking part in a scheme to defraud the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development in return for cash bribes.

Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning and Gordon B. Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field office, announced the indictments Thursday. Neither Oaks nor his attorney, Stuart O. Simms, could be reached for comment.

According to prosecutors, Oaks faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud; 20 years for the single count of honest services wire fraud; and five years for each count of violations of the Travel Act. Actual federal guidelines for punishments specify significantly shorter prison terms.

The indictments largely track the charges laid out in April's complaint. They allege that an FBI confidential source met with Oaks in September 2015 and portrayed himself as a business person who wanted to obtain contracts with HUD in Baltimore through a minority-owned company.

The indictments say Oaks agreed to help by providing documents on House of Delegates letterhead containing false information and received $10,300 in cash bribes in May and July 2016.

Oaks is charged with accepting another $5,000 in September 2016 in return for his agreement to file a $250,000 bond bill request with the Department of Legislative Services for a project the confidential source was seeking. According to the indictments, Oaks' dealings with the FBI source were captured in audio and video recordings.

The indictments also seek forfeiture of at least $15,300, the amount Oaks is accused of accepting in bribes.

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