By William F. Zorzi
A federal judge rejected a motion by defense lawyers for Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks to subpoena four witnesses – including two FBI undercover sources – to testify at a March 16 motions hearing in the lawmaker’s public corruption case.
At the same time, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett denied a motion by prosecutors to unseal memoranda supporting those subpoenas that had been filed by Oaks’ federal public defenders.
The motions supporting issue of the subpoenas – ex parte motions placed under seal and not seen by prosecutors – already had been granted by Bennett, but that fact was only discovered Monday by the government lawyers.
Bennett’s “letter order,” signed Wednesday and filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, confirmed decisions about the subpoenas and memos that he made Wednesday in a “telephonic hearing” with lawyers for both sides.
Oaks’ federal public defenders had subpoenaed an FBI undercover informant, publically known only as “Mike Henley” until they identified him last week in a court filing as William Myles, and an FBI “Cooperating Witness” (the “CW”), identified Saturday by Maryland Matters as Robert J. Barrett, a former aide to two Baltimore County executives who retired last week from the county school system.
The defense also had subpoenaed two staffers of the Maryland Department of Legislative Services to the motions hearing next week, as well. Those employees drafted legislation at Oaks’ request — though it was never introduced — which prosecutors allege was part of a bribery scheme involving the lawmaker.
Oaks, a West Baltimore Democrat, is charged with nine counts related to allegations that he took $15,300 in bribes from “Mike Henley,” a government informant posing as a Texas businessman wanting to build apartments in Baltimore. The legislator is also charged with one count of obstruction of justice.
Oaks has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
Defense motions pending before the court, and to be heard next Friday, are a request to dismiss six of the 10 charges against Oaks and for Bennett to agree, before trial, to explain entrapment to the jury.
Oaks’ trial on the nine charges related to the bribery scheme is scheduled to begin April 16, a week after the Maryland General Assembly adjourns its 90-day legislative session. His trial on the obstruction of justice charge is slated for Aug. 20.