News Release, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal criminal information was filed today charging Maryland State Delegate Tawanna P. Gaines, age 67, of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, with a federal wire fraud charge. An initial appearance and arraignment is expected to be scheduled later this week in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.
According to the criminal information, Gaines was a Maryland State Delegate from December 2001 through the present, representing District 22, which covered portions of Prince George’s County. Over her years in the House of Delegates, Gaines held many committee assignments, including vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee and Assistant Majority Leader.
The “Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines” (FTPG) candidate committee was the name of the financial entity for the Gaines campaign for Maryland State Delegate from June 2002 to the present. FTPG was a regulated state election campaign committee with a designated bank account. Separately, Gaines held exclusive control over a PayPal account used to accept electronic donations to FTPG which was not disclosed in State campaign finance filings.
The criminal information alleges that from at least January 2015 through April 2018, Gaines defrauded the campaign and its contributors of more than $22,000. Specifically, the information alleges that Gaines solicited campaign contributions representing that the funds would be used to facilitate her reelection and maintain her leadership positions within the Maryland General Assembly.
Gaines allegedly accepted donations from campaign contributors into the FTPG PayPal account, then without authorization and in violation of Maryland campaign finance laws, utilized campaign funds from the FTPG account for her personal use. According to the criminal information, Gaines received campaign contributions and converted them to her own use without causing the contributions to be identified on reports made to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
If convicted, Gaines faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud.
Criminal information is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal information is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI for its work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Windom, who is prosecuting the case.