A federal judge will hear state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks’ request to sever his fraud-related charges from a later obstruction of justice charge just one day after the 2018 General Assembly session begins.
The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 11 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The session opens Jan. 10, and Oaks has previously stated he would remain in office and fight the charges.
Oaks was first charged in April with wire fraud and accepting illegal payments and then indicted on additional charges in May, including accepting bribes in exchange for using his position to influence business matters for another individual. A superceding indictment in November also alleged he obstructed justice by tipping off a new target after agreeing to cooperate with the FBI.
Oaks filed a motion last month to be tried separately on the new obstruction charge.
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 alleges in the motion to sever the superceding indictment improperly joined the obstruction count with fraud charges, which are distinct from each other.
“The timing, targets, and nature of the alleged criminal conduct of the two groups of counts are too just to dissimilar to hold that joinder is proper here. The only commonality between the two groups is Senator Oaks himself—but this reason is insufficient for joinder purposes,” the motion states.