PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Md. Lawmaker Charged with Federal Wire Fraud

A longtime Maryland lawmaker is charged with federal wire fraud for spending thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for personal reasons, according to a court document filed Monday.

Tawanna P. Gaines, 67, a Democrat who represented District 22 in the northern part of Prince George’s County before her abrupt resignation Friday, solicited and accepted $22,565 in electronic donations over a three-year period through a PayPal account titled The Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines, authorities said.

According to a criminal information document in U.S. District Court, Gaines didn’t disclose the funds in state campaign finance filings. The document states she received contributions between January 2015 to April 2018.

Gaines, who resides in Berwyn Heights and served as a state lawmaker since 2001, no longer appears on the Maryland General Assembly website as of Monday afternoon.

She made one of her final public appearances while still in office on Sept. 5, when she sat alongside Govs. Ralph Northam of Virginia and Larry Hogan of Maryland at Oxon Hill Manor for the annual Chesapeake Executive Council meeting.

She received a variety of awards during her time in office, including the Casper R. Taylor Jr. award in 2015 for public service and integrity.

Gaines, who couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, is scheduled to appear for an arraignment Oct. 17 before U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in District Court in Greenbelt.

“As elected officials, we have an obligation to uphold the public trust, both in office and in our campaigns,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) said in a statement. “We cannot sacrifice that trust for personal gain for ourselves or our family members. I wish Delegate Gaines the best during this challenging time.”

Gaines is the third state delegate from Prince George’s in the past two years to be charged with financial improprieties.

In May 2018, a federal judge sentenced former Del. Will Campos, 44, to more than four years in prison for conspiracy and bribery charges stemming from his time as a county councilman from 2004 to 2014.

Campos, who was elected in 2014 to represent District 47B and resigned within a year, was also ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution.

In September 2018, a federal judge sentenced former Del. Michael E. Vaughn, 61, to four years in prison after he received nearly $20,000 between 2015 and 2016 after he approved Sunday liquor sales and permits.

Vaughn, who had represented District 24 since 2003 before resigning on the first day of the legislative session in 2017, helped pass liquor legislation as a member of the House Economic Matters Committee.

On the day of his sentencing, the U.S. District Attorney’s office said Vaughn stole more than $100,000 in campaign funds between 2005 and 2016.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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