A federal judge Thursday signed an order appointing a public defender for Maryland state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks, who had been represented by private counsel since his he was charged with wire fraud in April.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett found Oaks indigent and entitled to appointment of counsel. Two public defenders entered their appearances in the case Friday and renewed requests to have Oaks’ fraud and bribery charges tried separately from obstruction of justice charges added to the case in a superceding indictment last month.
Oaks was initially charged with wire fraud and accepting illegal cash payments allegedly made to him in 2016 when he was in the Maryland House of Delegates. He was indicted on additional charges in May, including accepting bribes in exchange for using his position to influence business matters for another individual.
The new indictment accused Oaks of agreeing to cooperate with the FBI in January by recording his conversations with the target of a new investigation but then tipping off the target, “thus thwarting the FBI investigation and obstructing justice,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Oaks’ attorneys announced an intention to ask for the charges to be severed in late November. The public defenders filed that motion Friday.
Oaks retained Stuart Oswald Simms and Joshua R. Treem of Brown Goldstein Levy LLP in Baltimore, who entered their appearances in May and June, respectively. Both were removed from the case Dec. 14.