Dover Man Sentenced To A Total 125 Years In Prison For Sexual Abuse And Rape Of Minor

Potential victims encouraged to contact (302) 577-5293 or ReportAbuse@delaware.gov  

Tyrone Clark, 64, has been sentenced to a total of 125 years for the rape and abuse of a 12-year-old child in his care. 

“No crime is more offensive, more heinous, and more dangerous than the sexual abuse of a child,” said Attorney General Jennings. “I’m grateful to the Court for its judgment in this case and I urge anyone who may have been abused by Tyrone Clark, or anyone else, to contact the Department of Justice immediately.”

Clark was found guilty of ten total felonies:

  • Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person in a Position of Trust, Authority, or Supervision First Degree (two counts)
  • Attempted Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person in a Position of Trust, Authority, or Supervision First Degree (one count)
  • Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person in a Position of Trust, Authority, or Supervision Second Degree (one count)
  • Rape Second Degree (one count)
  • Attempted Rape Second Degree (one count)
  • Dangerous Crimes Against a Child (two counts)
  • Rape Fourth Degree (one count) 
  • Unlawful Sexual Contact First Degree (one count)

In 2020, Clark was found guilty of ten felonies after molesting a twelve-year-old girl in his care. Clark watched pornography on his phone, making no effort to hide it from the victim or her six-year-old sister, and later engaged in multiple acts of sexual assault against the victim in the middle of the night. The victim was able to contact her mother by text from Clark’s phone and then fled from the house on foot. 

The Delaware Department of Justice encourages potential victims to contact the DOJ’s confidential sexual abuse hotline at (302) 577-5293 or email ReportAbuse@delaware.gov to provide information to prosecutors and investigators. 

Deputy Attorney General Kevin B. Smith secured the sentence with assistance from DOJ Social Worker Lorraine Freese, Paralegal Sue Balik, and Administrative Assistant Penny Mannering. Delaware State Police Detectives Weinstein and Nash led the investigation. 


AG Jennings Shuts Down Massive Charity Fraud Telefunding Operation

Defendants placed more than 1.3 billion deceptive fundraising calls claiming to support veterans, children, firefighters

The Delaware Department of Justice, along with the Federal Trade Commission and 46 agencies from 38 states and the District of Columbia, has stopped a massive telefunding operation that bombarded 67 million consumers with 1.3 billion deceptive charitable fundraising calls, mostly illegal robocalls. The defendants collected more than $110 million using their deceptive solicitations

“Delawareans are honest people who expect honesty in return,” said Attorney General Jennings. “I’m proud to live in a state of neighbors where we live by values of empathy and charity. ACS and other defendants shamelessly preyed on good people’s kindness and generosity and deceived millions of consumers into donating to sham causes. We’re holding them accountable with this settlement and will never tolerate this kind of conduct in our state.”

Associated Community Services (ACS) and related defendants have agreed to settle charges by the FTC and state agencies that they duped generous Americans into donating to charities that failed to provide the services they promised. The complaint names ACS and its sister companies Central Processing Services and Community Services Appeal; their owners, Dick Cole, Bill Burland, Barbara Cole, and Amy Burland; and ACS senior managers Nikole Gilstorf, Tony Lia, John Lucidi, and Scot Stepek. In addition, the complaint names two fundraising companies allegedly operated by Gilstorf and Lia as spin-offs of ACS, Directele, and The Dale Corporation.

“Deceptive charitable fundraising can be big business for scammers, especially when they use illegal robocalls,” said Daniel Kaufman, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “The FTC and our state partners are prepared to hold fraudsters accountable when they target generous consumers with lies.”

According to the complaint, the defendants knew that the organizations for which they were fundraising spent little or no money on the charitable causes they claimed to support—in some cases as little as one-tenth of one percent. The defendants kept as much 90 cents of every dollar they solicited from generous donors on behalf of the charities.  During the course of the Defendants’ conduct, 181,055 calls were made to Delawareans by Directele and its affiliates from January 2019 through August 2020.  In violation of Delaware law, these entities were not registered to conduct telemarketing activities in Delaware.

The complaint alleges that the defendants made their deceptive pitches since at least 2008 on behalf of numerous organizations that claimed to support homeless veterans, victims of house fires, breast cancer patients, children with autism, and other causes that well-meaning Americans were enticed to support through the defendants’ high-pressure tactics. ACS was also the major fundraiser for the sham Cancer Fund charities that were shut down by the FTC and states in 2015.

In many instances, the complaint alleges, ACS and later Directele knowingly violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by using soundboard technology in telemarketing calls. With that technology, an operator plays pre-recorded messages to consumers instead of speaking with them naturally. Use of such pre-recorded messages in calls to first time donors violates the TSR. Use of the technology in calls to prior donors also violates the TSR unless call recipients are affirmatively told about their ability to opt out of all future calls and provided a mechanism to do so; the defendants did not make that disclosure. Most of Directele’s soundboard calls originated from call centers in the Philippines and India.

The complaint also charges ACS with making harassing calls, noting that ACS called more than 1.3 million phone numbers more than ten times in a single week and 7.8 million numbers more than twice in an hour. More than 500 phone numbers were even called 5,000 times or more.

The ACS defendants were the subject of 20 prior law enforcement actions for their fundraising practices. The ACS defendants stopped operating in September 2019. Gilstorf purchased Directele and Dale Corp in October 2019 and, with Lia, the Directele defendants allegedly continued the deceptive fundraising and illegal telemarketing practices. The complaint alleges the defendants violated the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Delaware Charitable/Fraternal Solicitation Act, the FTC Act, the TSR, and numerous other state laws.

The terms of the settlements with the defendants, which are now pending court approval, are as follows:

 

Associated Community Services Defendants

Each of these defendants will be permanently prohibited from conducting or consulting on any fundraising activities and from conducting telemarketing of any kind to sell goods or services. In addition, they will be prohibited from using any existing donor lists and from further violations of state charitable giving laws, as well as from making any misrepresentation about a product or service. The defendants will be also be subject to the following monetary judgments:

 

Directele Defendants and ACS Senior Managers Scot Stepek and John Lucidi

Each of these defendants will be permanently prohibited from any fundraising work or consulting on behalf of any charitable organization or any nonprofit organization that claims to work on behalf of causes similar to those outlined in the complaint. They will also be prohibited from using robocalls for any form of telemarketing, using abusive calling practices, or making any misrepresentation about a product or service. In addition, the defendants will be required to clearly and conspicuously disclose when a donation they are requesting is not tax deductible.

In addition, the two corporate defendants—Directele Inc. and The Dale Corporation—will be required to cease operations and dissolve.

The defendants will also be subject to the following monetary judgments:

The funds being surrendered by the defendants will be paid to an escrow fund held by the State of Florida and, following a motion by the participating states and approval by the court, be contributed to one or more legitimate charities that support causes similar to those for which the defendants solicited.

The FTC has more information for consumers about charitable giving, including tips on how to spot sham charities at https://ftc.gov/charity. In addition, consumers are encouraged to let the FTC know about charity fraud, robocalls, and other consumer issues at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov. This matter is being handled by the DOJ’s Fraud and Consumer Protection Division.  Deputy Attorney General Oliver Cleary represented Delaware in this matter. Delawareans can find information from the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Unit, including how to report fraud or deceptive business practices, at de.gov/consumer.


AG Jennings releases legislative priorities for 2021

Attorney General Kathy Jennings released Tuesday a legislative agenda outlining ten policy priorities that she will advocate to the 151st General Assembly in 2021.

“I know what we’re capable of in 2021, because I know what we accomplished together in the last two years,” said Attorney General Jennings. “We’ve made real progress, from historic criminal justice reforms, to reducing Delaware’s prison population, to major victories in the courts. But our work isn’t over. All of these priorities are common sense policies that everyone should be able to get behind. Together, we can get it done – so let’s get to work.”

In a video message, the Attorney General outlines some of the DOJ’s major accomplishments since December 2018 – including unprecedented progress on criminal justice reform, a 25% reduction in Delaware’s sentenced inmate population, and more than $100 million secured for Delawareans in 2020 alone – and lists ten key priorities for 2021:

  1. Requiring a permit to purchase firearms, a policy that has led in red and blue states alike to significant reductions in gun homicides and gun suicides
  2. Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, policies the Attorney General has supported for years
  3. Regulating homemade gun kits, which are playing an increasing role in Delaware’s shootings
  4. Funding body cameras for every police officer in Delaware, which was one of 15 police reform proposals AG Jennings proposed in 2020, and for which Gov. Carney included significant funding in his recommended budget for 2021
  5. Creating a consistent, objective use of force standard to replace Delaware law’s current subjective, vague, and confusing standard
  6. Ending cash bail to ensure that violent offenders can’t go free because of their wealth and that people are not detained simply because of their poverty
  7. Ending excessive court fines and fees which contribute to recidivism and have created a modern-day debtor’s prison for those who are clearly unable to pay
  8. Outlawing unfair business practices, aligning Delaware law with current policy in 46 states and the District of Columbia
  9. Securing the right to vote, including expanding the right to vote early and making permanent the right to vote by mail
  10. Banning guns in polling places, an anti-voter intimidation measure that closes a gap in Delaware law

The list is non-exhaustive. All ten priorities, along with the Attorney General’s video message and accompanying graphics, are available at de.gov/agenda2021.


Overdose Review Commission Releases Annual Report

Recommendations include housing, trauma training, expanding recovery resources in the criminal justice system

The Delaware Drug Overdose Fatality Review Commission (DOFRC) has released its second annual report to Governor John Carney and the General Assembly.

The 18-page report, released Tuesday, details five policy recommendations based on its review of a sample of 130 overdose fatalities that occurred in 2019.

“The addiction epidemic hasn’t gone away,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Delaware’s public health officials are fighting two wars: one against COVID-19 and another against substance use disorder. Thousands of Delawareans in public health agencies, law enforcement, hospitals, nonprofits, and our neighborhoods have stepped up to fight the epidemic. This report’s findings show that they’re doing great work, but that they still need our help.”

Notable findings from the report include:

  • 38% of decedents in the sample were unhoused or had unstable housing. Decedents without stable housing were significantly likelier to have been previously incarcerated
  • 4% of decedents in the sample had experienced one or more traumatic events—including 15% who witnessed an overdose—but only 8.5% of decedents had received counseling
  • 40% of decedents had at least one prior non-fatal overdose; some had as many as nine

“Substance use disorder affects everyone: not only its victims, but their families and their entire communities,” said DOFRC Chair Erin Booker. “We need to bring everyone together – from health care providers and public officials to law enforcement and advocates – to confront this issue and reduce the harm that the epidemic has caused throughout our state. That’s exactly why DOFRC exists. Our findings provide new, empirically-based opportunities for action in the fight against the opioid epidemic. I’m grateful to, and proud of, all of my colleagues on the Commission for their work addressing this difficult but critical issue.”

The report makes five key recommendations:

  1. Provide safe and secure housing through the empirically-backed Housing First model for unhoused or unstably housed individuals.
  2. Expand Continuing Education availability for Licensed Clinicians to increase knowledge of Trauma Intervention Services
  3. Intervene for those whose contact with law enforcement does not result in arrest or incarceration; and initiate substance abuse treatment services immediately following incarceration for inmates awaiting sentencing
  4. Establish a notification system within the Prescription Monitoring Program to ensure prescribers are aware of patient non-fatal overdose(s)
  5. Improve outreach and follow-up with individuals who engaged in substance abuse related treatment

The full report is available here.

The DOFRC was established to examine the facts and circumstances of deaths resulting from prescription opioid, fentanyl, and heroin overdoses and make evidence-based recommendations on to how to prevent future overdose deaths. The Commission is staffed by the Department of Justice and is required to report its findings on at least an annual basis.


AG Jennings’ Consumer Protection Unit files Action Against Unlicensed Debt-Management Services Company

Attorney General Kathy Jennings’ Consumer Protection Unit announced Monday that it filed an administrative lawsuit against Centerdon Group, Inc. n/k/a Hilvanim Group, Inc., a California corporation, for violating the Delaware Uniform Debt-Management Services Act, the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act and the Delaware Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Delawareans who are struggling with debt deserve our help, not exploitation,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Centerdon targeted elderly and low-income victims in our State who were looking for assistance with getting out of debt. Centerdon strung them along and charged them high fees through illegal debt-management contracts, all without providing meaningful assistance. We will hold Centerdon accountable for their illegal and misleading debt management services along with any other providers of illegal debt management services.”

The suit alleges that Centerdon used misleading advertising directed to Delaware residents and then arranged for a Delaware notary to travel to the victims’ homes and present its debt settlement contracts as a “representative” of Centerdon. The agreements repeatedly referred to Centerdon as a “Law Firm” and were styled as “Legal Services Agreement” despite the fact that Centerdon employed no attorneys admitted to practice law in Delaware. Centerdon’s agreements also contained hidden, duplicative, and misleading fees designed to enrich Centerdon at the expense of Delaware consumers.

This matter is being handled by Deputy Attorney General Katherine Devanney, Special Investigator Joe Rago and Paralegal Tiffany Williams, with oversight by Consumer Protection Director Marion Quirk.