The daughter and campaign treasurer of former state Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George’s) pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge related to her misuse of contributions intended for the lawmaker, prosecutors said on Friday – just a few weeks after her mother pleaded guilty to a similar charge.
Anitra G. Edmond has served as Gaines’ campaign treasurer since 2005.
In her plea agreement with the government, Edmond acknowledged that – over a six-year period that began in 2012 – she diverted more than $35,000 in contributions for her own use, in violation of Maryland campaign law. In some cases, she deposited checks made out to “Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines” into her personal account, a brazen misappropriation of campaign funds even by the freewheeling standards of some Prince George’s County politicians.
“Individuals who donate to a political campaign trust that their money will be used to support their candidate,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur in a statement. “Edmond abused that trust to enrich herself. Such a betrayal undermines everyone’s faith in government.”
Hur’s team, which prosecuted Gaines and Edmond in partnership with the FBI’s Baltimore field office, said the treasurer used the funds on fast food, hair styling, personal phone bills, and rent for a separate business. In addition, she used an ATM card that was connected to the candidate’s account to withdraw funds in cash.
Edmond faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison on her conviction on wire fraud charge. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for Feb. 24. He is the same judge handling the Gaines case.
As part of her plea agreement, Edmond is required to forfeit and pay restitution to cover the $35,188.63 she misappropriated.
Gaines pleaded guilty in October to a single federal wire fraud charge related to more than $22,000 in campaign funds that she converted to personal use in violation of state law.
A federal prosecutor told the judge that Gaines used the funds to purchase fast food, dental work, hair appointments, a cover for her swimming pool, an Amazon Prime membership and more. She too transferred campaign funds to her personal bank account and withdrew cash from the campaign account, also in violation of the law.
A former vice-chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and an Assistant Majority Leader, Gaines will be sentenced on January 3. She faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Gaines, who represented District 22, is a former recipient of the Casper R. Taylor Jr. Founder’s Award, an honor given each year to sitting members of the House Delegates in recognition of their integrity and dedication to public service.