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Former delegate sentenced to 6 months in prison for theft of campaign funds

Posted at 11:45 AM, Jan 03, 2020

A former Maryland delegate is sentenced to 6 months in prison for theft of campaign funds.

A judge sentenced Tawanna Gaines today on wire fraud charges.

Her prison time is followed by two months of home detention with electronic monitoring as part of three years of supervised release. She is also ordered to pay restitution and to forfeit, $22,565.03, which is the loss resulting from her fraud.

“Tawanna Gaines betrayed the public trust by using her position in the Maryland House of Delegates to enrich herself, at the expense of her constituents,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.

“Our elected officials are entrusted to make decisions in the best interests of the people they represent. We will pursue and prosecute those who break that trust and bring them to justice.”

Gaines was a Maryland State Delegate from December 2001 through October 17, 2019, representing District 22, which covered portions of Prince George’s County.

RELATED: High ranking State Delegate resigns amid federal wire fraud charge

She pleaded guilty in October of last year to one count of wire fraud.

Gaines, who was the Vice Chair of the State House Appropriations Committee admitted to defrauding donors out of more than $22,000.00 by using a PayPal account that she claimed was tied to her officially regulated campaign account called "Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines".

From at least January 2015 to April 2018, Gaines solicited and accepted electronic donations through the PayPal account, and used the money for personal use without ever reporting the funds to the State Board of Elections.

In her plea agreement, Gaines said she used the campaign funds from the PayPal account to pay for personal expenses, such as fast food, hair styling, dental work, a cover for a pool at her home, and an Amazon Fire TV stick, Prime membership, and other Amazon payments.

Gaines also withdrew around $1,952.75 in cash from ATM machines and electronically transferred at least $2,061.55 from the PayPal account directly to her personal checking account.