Judge Rules That Sen. Oaks Can Have Separate Trials

A federal judge ruled in favor of Maryland State Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks (D) on Friday, granting a defense motion for two separate trials on fraud and obstruction of justice charges against him.

Judge Richard D. Bennett found that “there is a risk of prejudice to the defendant,” were Oaks to be tried on all the charges at one trial. The 10 charges arise from a separate — though related — series of incidents.

Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks

The single obstruction count against Oaks stems from allegations that that while the West Baltimore Democrat was supposed to be cooperating with federal investigators, he tipped off a target from the bail-bonds industry, known only as “Person #1” in court papers, to the existence of a corruption probe.

The nine other fraud charges against Oaks are related to allegations that he took more than $15,300 in a bribery scheme involving an FBI confidential source posing as a Texas businessman wanting to do business in Baltimore.

“The only real connection between Counts One through Nine and Count Ten is the alleged inherent corruption of Senator Oaks,” Bennett wrote.

Oaks has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. His trial on the nine fraud charges is scheduled to begin April 16, a week after the General Assembly adjourns.

William F. Zorzi
Bill Zorzi was a Baltimore Sun reporter and editor for nearly 20 years, focusing on government and politics. An Annapolis bureau veteran, he wrote a weekly column, “The Political Game” for the paper.Zorzi and another former Sun reporter, David Simon, are longtime collaborators on acclaimed television projects, including the HBO series, “The Wire,” and the HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” which dealt with an explosive housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY.


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