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On the Record

The Daily Record's law news blog

Oaks to seek severance of obstruction charge in federal case

State Sen. Nat Oaks. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

State Sen. Nat Oaks. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks is preparing to ask a federal judge to try him separately for fraud-related charges and obstruction of justice after a superseding indictment was filed earlier this month.

The obstruction charge alleges Oaks agreed to cooperate with the FBI in January by recording his conversations with the target of a new investigation but then tipping off the target. In an order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett memorialized a phone call between himself and the parties about the new charge including concerns about proper joinder with the prior charges.

Bennett ordered Oaks to file a motion for severance of the obstruction charge by Dec. 15 with responses due soon after and scheduled a hearing for Jan. 5. The case is scheduled for a two-week jury trial in April.

A defendant can be charged with two or more offenses if they are of the same or similar character, based on the same act or transaction, or connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan. A judge can sever offenses in an indictment if they appear to prejudice the defendant.

Oaks was first charged in April with wire fraud and accepting illegal payments then indicted on additional charges in May including accepting bribes in exchange for using his position to influence business matters for another individual.

The charges stem from an alleged phony west Baltimore development scheme to develop a property on Druid Lake Drive. Oaks is accused accepting more than $15,000 in exchange for sponsoring legislation to secure state funding for the project.


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