Prince George’s Delegate Faces Federal Wire Fraud Charges

A former Maryland state delegate who was a member of the influential House Appropriations Committee has been charged with federal wire fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Tawanna P. Gaines, 67, of Berwyn, resigned Monday. She joined the House in 2001 when she was appointed to fill a vacancy. She represented District 22 in Prince George’s County.

She is expected to be arraigned 11 a.m. Thursday before U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang, in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

According to the criminal information, Gaines held exclusive control over a Paypal account used to accept electronic donations into her campaign account, “Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines” (FTPG). The PayPal account was not disclosed in state campaign finance filings.

The FBI 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, used campaign funds from the FTPG account for her personal use. The contributions were never identified on Maryland State Board of Elections reports, the FBI claims.

If convicted, Gaines faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud.

Here is the criminal information filed in the case:

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