Secretary of State Announces Nursing License Suspension

Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock has ordered the temporary suspension of the Delaware nursing license of Aja M. Terry of Newark, Delaware, following her arrest and subsequent extradition to Maryland where she has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse.

In making his determination, Secretary Bullock considered the written complaint filed with the Board of Nursing for temporary suspension of the professional license of Ms. Terry. The Delaware Code Titles 23 and 24 were amended on April 15, 2014, to enable a temporary suspension pending a hearing to be issued upon the written order of the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Board chair if the activity of the licensee presents a clear and immediate danger to the public health, safety or welfare.

As a result of the actions taken today, the suspension of Ms. Terry’s license will remain in effect for a period of 60 days during which time a disciplinary hearing will be held to determine the final disposition for the nurse.

A copy of the signed public order suspending the license of Aja M. Terry can also be viewed here.


Governor’s Weekly Message: Increasing Opportunities in the New Year

Wilmington, DE – In his weekly message, Governor Markell highlights efforts to provide better opportunities for the workforce in Delaware.

“In the coming year, our state’s leaders must continue to give our people and our institutions the chance to set and reach higher expectations. And we should never be satisfied with the status quo,” said Governor Markell. “I wish all Delawareans a very happy New Year and I look forward to working together in 2016 to keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

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Delaware.Gov: http://governor.delaware.gov/podcast_video.shtml
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Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Increasing Opportunities in the New Year


Governor’s Weekly Message Transcript: Increasing Opportunities in the New Year

Time and again Delawareans make the most of the opportunities given to them. No stories highlight this fact more clearly than those of the first class of graduates from Zip Code Wilmington. The program was formed earlier this year to address one of the most important challenges facing our society: giving people access to the education and training required to thrive in an economy transformed by new technology – an economy that requires more skills than ever.

Through a partnership of the public, private, and non-profit sectors, Zip Code provides a 12-week, intense coding course for little to no cost. When the first class concluded a few weeks ago, the program had successfully resulted in IT jobs for every graduate – people like Joel Guevara, a Marine who had trouble finding full time work when he returned home from duty. When he saw the opportunity at Zip Code, he didn’t hesitate to apply and rise to the challenge. Today he’s a coder at Diamond Technologies, with salary double what he made before. Zip Code graduates entered the program averaging a salary of under $25,000, and left averaging nearly $55,000 per year. Stories like Joel’s remind us of the tremendous potential of our people to overcome challenges and thrive when given the chance – whether it’s workers gaining new skills, students attaining higher levels of educations, businesses increasing productivity, or state employees making government services more efficient.

In the coming year, our state’s leaders must continue to give our people and our institutions the chance to set and reach higher expectations. And we should never be satisfied with the status quo. I wish all Delawareans a very happy New Year and I look forward to working together in 2016 to keep Delaware moving forward.


AG Denn, Community Leaders, Issue Renewed Call For Use Of Bank Settlement Funds To Address Issues In Delaware’s Hardest Hit Neighborhoods

Proposal for Joint Finance Committee to consider when it meets in January. 

Attorney General Matt Denn outlines a revised proposal using the remaining $29-million from financial settlements with Bank of America and Citigroup, designed to address housing, crime, recidivism, substance abuse and education in some of Delaware’s most economically distressed and crime-stricken communities.
Attorney General Matt Denn outlines a revised proposal using the remaining $29-million from financial settlements with Bank of America and Citigroup, designed to address housing, crime, recidivism, substance abuse and education in some of Delaware’s most economically distressed and crime-stricken communities.

Backed by community leaders and advocates for economically hard hit communities, Attorney General Matt Denn has renewed and revised his proposal to utilize funds from financial crisis settlement to be used for crime prevention, housing, substance abuse treatment, after school and summer school programs, prisoner reentry and education in those areas.

The proposal is a renewal of the Attorney General’s “Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities” program, announced in January 2015,  for using settlement funds that Delaware had received from Bank of America and Citigroup to resolve allegations of market misconduct by financial institutions that contributed to the national financial crash.

The amount of funds now available is approximately $29 million, rather than the original $36 million available a year ago. $5 million was used by the General Assembly in June 2015 to balance the state budget, and another $2 million was set aside in December by agreement between the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and the Department of Justice to expand policing in high-crime areas of Dover and Wilmington. JFC is expected to deliberate over additional uses of the funds in January.

“Our proposal in January, and our proposal today, is that these funds be used to help lift up our state’s hardest hit communities.  That is what is called for by the settlement agreement, and speaking for a moment as an elected official whose top priority is fighting violent crime, investing in these communities is also what we should be doing if we really want to bring down the rate of violent crime,” Attorney General Denn said. “

The renewed Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities is similar to that unveiled in January, with some dollar amounts reduced to reflect the smaller amount of funds available, and with two changes to reflect valuable input that was received from the community and legislators after the initial proposal was made.

The proposal was backed at Wednesday’s event by representatives of atTAcK Addiction, Stop The Violence Prayer Chain, the Wilmington HOPE Commission, New Castle County Police, Red Clay Education Association, Safe United Neighborhoods, the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, and New Castle County Councilman Jea Street.

“This funding would mean the world to students,” said Monique Taylor-Gibbs, a teacher in Wilmington’s Warner Elementary School. “These funds would mean after school programs, it would mean more adequate bodies in the classroom, it would allow us to have smaller class sizes, it would allow the students to be able to stay in school until 6:00 p.m. and then just go home and do homework and go to bed.”

The Lifting Up Delaware’s Communities proposal now consists of :

Investing in People and Neighborhoods ($10.7 Million)

  • Substance Abuse Treatment.  $3 million over three years should be spent on providing drug treatment opportunities for inmates with substance abuse disorder who are either nearing release from prison or have just been released from prison.
  • Prison Re-Entry Programs.  $3 million over three years should be spent on competitive grants to non-profit organizations that assist inmates being released from correctional facilities to avoid new criminal offenses.
  • Community Policing and Community Support.  $4.7 million should be allocated to the state’s Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, which can make grants for a broad array of government and non-profit efforts to support economically impacted neighborhoods.

Providing Affordable Housing and Development in Economically Impacted Areas ($10.5 million)

  • Foreclosure Prevention.  $1.5 million should be directed to the Delaware Mortgage Assistance Program to help Delaware homeowners prevent foreclosures on their primary properties.
  • Home Purchase Opportunities for Foreclosure Victims.  $4 million should go to the Downtown Development Districts program, to be used for the purpose of providing down payment assistance to homeowners willing to purchase homes in Downtown Development Districts.  Down payment grants should be means-tested, and first priority would be given to persons and families who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and the present.
  • Affordable Housing.  $5 million should go to the Delaware State Housing Authority’s Strong Neighborhoods Revolving Housing Fund, which is dedicated to the creation of affordable housing in economically impacted areas.

Providing Help to Low-Income Children ($7.8 million)

  • Support for High Poverty Elementary Schools. We are proposing to dedicate $4.8 million to providing $100,000 per year for three years to each of the state’s 16 highest-poverty elementary schools, to allow them to hire additional teachers or paraprofessionals to work with the students from low-income areas who attend school there every day.
  • After School and Summer Programs.  $3 million over three years should be spent on after-school and summer programs targeted at students who live in low-income areas of the state.

“When it comes to sentencing those who have broken the law, we have to ask, do we wish to punish, or do we wish to rehabilitate,” said David Hume of atTAcK Addiction. “It is estimated, the costs of $36,000 to incarcerate, while the cost of treatment is $6,000. To rehabilitate and prevent recidivism, we need the $3-million that the Attorney General has earmarked for drug treatment opportunities for those currently incarcerated, as well as programs to insure those about to be released have a plan to move forward in their lives.”

Colonel Elmer Setting, Chief of the New Castle County Police Department, echoed the sentiments of atTAcK Addiction, and said arresting users isn’t the answer, suggesting if we educate and rehabilitate, we will be a better country, a better state, and a better city.

The Citi and BOA settlement funds are held by the Attorney General’s Office and can be spent by agreement of the Attorney General and the Joint Finance Committee if the JFC indicates it does not intend to take the funds from the settlement account and allocate them as part of the budget process. Attorney General Denn continues to believe the settlement funds should not be used by the legislature to plug budget holes.


Six Individuals Indicted In Five Homicides

Grand jury hands up indictments in 2010 Wilmington cold case, 2014 Village of Windhover shooting, 2015 Vandever Avenue shooting, 2015 Rodney Square stabbing, 2015 Hockessin murder victim found in car.

Six defendants were indicted by a New Castle County grand jury on Monday, December 21 in five homicide cases, including three murders from 2015, one from 2014, and what had been a cold case from 2010. Department of Justice prosecutors do not recall ever having indictments in five homicide cases in a single day.

“Justice is being pursued in all five of these cases – some from this year and some older — because of the unending efforts of our prosecutors and of the police agencies that serve these communities,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “Their tireless efforts go a long way to help make our neighborhoods, cities, and state safer.”

One case dates back to 2010, and was solved through the combined efforts of the Wilmington Police Department’s Cold Case Unit and the Department of Justice Homicide Unit. During an argument in the 600 block of South Franklin Street in May 2010, Erik McNeely, 35, of Newark, fired three shots, killing Abel Flores. McNeely faces one count of first degree murder, and two counts of attempted murder.

“Sometimes people think a cold case must be solved with new technology or tests, but this case was able to be solved after five years because of the help and cooperation of witnesses. Through the relentless efforts of Wilmington Police Sergeant Matt Hall, Cold Case Investigator Partlow and Special Agent Ronnie Hnat, we were finally able to give answers to the Flores family,” said DOJ homicide unit head and deputy attorney general Ipek Medford. “We need our community to help us piece together cases. This case is an example that we need witnesses to tell what happened and bring justice, and not just forensic evidence like TV shows might have the public believe. ”

“I appreciate the hard work of everyone in our Cold Case Unit, and all of the agencies we work alongside, for keeping this case alive for five years,” said Wilmington Police Chief Bobby Cummings. “We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to bring cases like this to closure for the families of homicide victims.”

Two men, Isaac LeCompte, 22, of New Castle, and 20-year-old Jyaire Smith of Georgetown, Maryland were indicted in a second case, in connection with the death of Ira Hopkins in July 2014. Hopkins and friends were celebrating his birthday outside of his home in the Village of Windhover Apartments on Sandburg Place in Newark, when LeCompte and Smith approached with guns and ordered them to the ground. The two fired several shots, killing Hopkins and injuring one of his friends. LeCompte and Smith each face two counts of first degree murder (felony murder and intentional murder), one count of attempted murder, seven counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy, and one count of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

“New Castle County Detectives have worked tirelessly on this case since this tragic incident occurred. From the initial response, the collection of evidence, conducting interviews and the process of preparing the case for the arrest and trial, every effort was made to ensure those responsible were brought to justice,” said Colonel Elmer Setting, Chief of the New Castle County Police Department. “Each of these cases is critically important and we are grateful for the on-going collaboration between the New Castle County Police Department and Delaware Attorney General’s office. If you commit murder in New Castle County, regardless of the length of time that has passed, our detectives and Cold Case investigators will remain relentless until they arrest those responsible for these heinous acts and hold them accountable for their actions,” Setting said.

In a third case, the man charged with stabbing Thomas Cottingham to death on Rodney Square in September 2015 was indicted on several charges. Calvin Hooker, 25, of Wilmington killed Cottingham, as Cottingham stepped in to protect a woman Hooker confronted along Market Street. Hooker was indicted for first degree murder, two counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of resisting arrest, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and aggravated menacing.

In a fourth case, Hakiem Anderson, 31, of Wilmington was indicted on charges of first degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited in the fourth case. Anderson shot and killed Markevis Clark in the 800 block of Vandever Avenue in Wilmington in August 2015, after a brief argument.

The fifth homicide case indicted on December 21st, is that of Benjamin Rauf, 26, of Westerlo, New York. Rauf was arrested in connection with the Auguest killing of Shazim Uppal, who was found dead after being shot multiple times while sitting in his parked car in Hockessin. Rauf was indicted on two counts of first degree murder (felony murder and intentional murder), possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and first degree robbery.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.