MARYLAND POLITICS CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Prince George’s County Democrat Delegate Tawanna Gaines Pleads Guilty to Federal Wire Fraud; Resigns Seat in Maryland House of Delegates
Democrat Delegate Used Campaign Funds for Beauty Work, Nails, Fix Teeth, Amazon Prime and Swimming Pool Cover
Posted bond for drug-dealer son
Greenbelt, Maryland – Maryland State Delegate Tawanna P. Gaines, 67, of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, pleaded guilty Oct. 17, 2019, to a federal wire fraud charge, admitting that she converted more than $22,000 in campaign funds to her personal use.
The guilty plea 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.
“Our elected officials are entrusted to make decisions in the best interests of the people they represent, not to use their positions of authority to line their own pockets,” said United States Attorney Robert K. Hur. “We will pursue and prosecute those who betray the public trust and break the law and bring them to justice.”
“Those who serve in public office positions must uphold the public’s trust. Sadly, Tawanna Gaines abused her position for personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone of the FBI’s Baltimore Division. “Today’s plea announcement sends a signal that the FBI will investigate any public official who attempts to abuse their position of trust to enrich themselves.”
According to her plea agreement, 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 finance 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.
Gaines admitted that from at least January 2015 through April 2018, she defrauded the campaign and its contributors of more than $22,000. Specifically, Gaines solicited campaign contributions, falsely representing to contributors that the funds would be used to facilitate her reelection and maintain her leadership positions within the Maryland General Assembly. Gaines 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. Gaines admitted that she 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.
stolen campaign funds went for fast food, hair styling, dental work, a cover for the pool at her personal residence, an Amazon Fire TV stick, Amazon Prime membership, and payments to Amazon.com.
As detailed in her plea agreement, Gaines used the campaign funds from the FTPG PayPal account to pay for personal expenses, such as fast food, hair styling, dental work, a cover for the pool at her personal residence, an Amazon Fire TV stick, Amazon Prime membership, and payments to Amazon.com. In addition, during the course of the conspiracy Gaines withdrew a total of approximately $1,952.75 in cash from ATM machines and electronically transferred at least $2,061.55 from the FTPG PayPal account directly to her personal checking account. The total loss as a result of Gaines’ fraud was at least $22,565.03. As part of her plea agreement, Gaines is required to forfeit and pay restitution in that amount.
Gaines faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for January 3, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. She is released on her own recognizance under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
If convicted, Gaines faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud. Gaines makes a Base salary of $47,769 a year as a Maryland Delegate and is paid a per diem of $103 a day for lodging during the annual ninety-day session of the General Assembly. She also is given $45 each day for meals.
While Del. Gaines was fleecing her campaign contributors to pay for her Amazon account, she sat on the House of Delegates Spending Affordability Committee – appointed by the late Speaker Busch
One of Del. Gaines’ committee assignments has been the Spending Affordability Committee. Court records show that she and Roger Gaines were defendants in a Foreclosure action in Prince Georges County Circuit Court.
Del. Gaines posted bond for drug-dealer son
Delegate Tawanna P. Gaines, of 5615 Berwyn Road, Berwyn Heights, Md., while a member of the House of Delegates, posted bond for Roger L. Gaines III (DOB 07/29/1983) on Dec. 30, 2004. Roger Gaines, who was 21 at the time, was charged in Prince Georges County Circuit Court with:
- four criminal counts of possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, possession of marijuana;
- selling drugs on school property,
- and possession of a deadly weapon on school property.
As a result of Del. Gaines posting the bond, Roger Gaines was released from the Prince Georges County Jail on Dec. 30, 2004, pending trial in Circuit Court.
Another Maryland Delegate, then the House Judiciary Chairman, Joseph F. Vallario Jr., was listed as the attorney for Roger Gaines III. When the case was on the docket for trial, a plea bargain was struck between Vallario and then States Attorney Glenn Ivey. Ivey was elected Prince George’s County state’s attorney in 2002 and again in 2006.
Roger Gaines III, withdrew his not guilty plea and entered a guilty plea to count two, that of possession of marijuana – which was a major concession on the part of the prosecution as the deal called for States Attorney Ivey to drop the drug distribution charges.
THE DEAL: On April 29, 2005, in front of Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Lamasney, the defendant, Roger Gaines III, withdrew his not guilty plea and entered a guilty plea to count two, that of possession of marijuana – which was a major concession on the part of the prosecution as the deal called for States Attorney Ivey to drop the drug distribution charges.
The fly in the ointment was a requirement that Roger Gaines III also plead guilty to transporting a handgun – which goes against all the political agenda of the ultra-liberal Democratic Party politics of PG County and espoused by Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly.
Salisbury University reported the following about
Del. Gaines when she was honored in 2017:
During a festive ceremony attended by Salisbury University faculty, staff, students and alumni; state legislators; and others, Maryland Delegate Tawanna P. Gaines was named the campus’ 2017 John R. Hargreaves Distinguished Legislative Fellow. In recognition of outstanding public service, the award was presented by SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach in Annapolis. Gaines has served in the House of Delegates since 2001, representing Prince George’s County.
SALISBURY, MD—Maryland Delegate Tawanna P. Gaines is Salisbury University’s 2017 John R. Hargreaves Distinguished Legislative Fellow.
In recognition of outstanding public service, the award was presented by SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach during a ceremony at the Miller West Conference Center in Annapolis.
“Delegate Gaines brings over 15 years of experience to her roles in the legislature,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “She actively demonstrates the skills and values that we strive to instill in our students, including community engagement and volunteerism. She is known for her straightforward communication and her willingness to take on new challenges and break barriers for others. She is a strong advocate for all Marylanders on important issues and a worthy recipient of the Hargreaves Award.”
Serving in the House of Delegates since 2001, Gaines represents Prince George’s County. Currently, she is vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee and chairs its subcommittee for transportation and the environment. She is a past president of Women Legislators of Maryland and also belongs to the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and Maryland Veterans Caucus. She is on the joint committee on children, youth and families, as well as the National Capital Regional Transportation Planning Board and the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
The Washington Post has called her “one of the most refreshingly forthright lawmakers in Annapolis.”
Prior to joining the legislature, Gaines made history in the Town of Berwyn Heights by being elected as the first African American council member and later the first female mayor. A leader in her community, she has been involved with such organizations as the Prince George’s County Municipal Association, Dimensions Healthcare System and Berwyn Heights Boys and Girls Club. Applauded for her volunteer work and public service, Gaines has been honored by the Maryland State Park Advisory Commission, Maryland Association of Counties, Maryland Clean Energy Center and Maryland Municipal League, among others. A native of Washington, D.C., she is a graduate of the District of Columbia Teachers College. She has two children.
“The Hargreaves Fellowship allows SU students to learn firsthand from outstanding state legislators about their work on behalf of the citizens of Maryland,” said Dr. Maarten Pereboom, dean of SU’s Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “We look forward to Delegate Gaines’ visit to campus later this year.”
Gaines is the 16th recipient of the Hargreaves Fellowship. Past honorees include Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Brian Frosh, Rob Garagiola, Thomas “Mac” Middleton, George Edwards and Ed Kasemeyer for their service as senators; as well as House Speaker Michael Busch and John Bohanan, Talmadge Branch, Addie Eckhardt, Sheila Hixson, Adrienne Jones, Norman Conway and the late Howard “Pete” Rawlings for their service as delegates.