Statement from AG Jennings on Dobbs ruling

Attorney General Kathy Jennings released the following statement today regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:

“Just one day after dramatically curtailing states’ rights to regulate guns, the Supreme Court has upended a half-century of legal precedent by permitting states to regulate women’s most basic freedom — control over our own bodies. It is a sad statement about this Court’s priorities, which are so far out of step with the American people and explain the public’s cratering confidence in its highest court. While Delaware has robust statutory protections in place for abortion — and I am more grateful by the day that our legislators and advocates had the foresight to install those safeguards — the truth is that this ruling is a terrifying prospect for millions of people in other states.

Make no mistake; the stakes now are not simple matters of opinion. It is a matter of fact that the draconian abortion policies this right-wing ruling has enabled will be harmful, even deadly, to women who either cannot receive lifesaving care or seek an abortion outside of a medical environment. It is a matter of fact that some of these laws enable criminal prosecution of doctors who provide life-saving medical care. And it is a matter of fact that these laws will disproportionately harm the working poor and people who already have children and may face economic destitution as a result of this ruling.

Those of us who’ve spent our lives fighting to preserve this central right have not been alarmist. And we can be sure that other rights that we’ve taken for granted, including contraception and marriage equality may be next.

Our priority now must be ensuring that people who need abortions have the resources to get them; ensuring public officials in our state continue to protect choice; and continuing to fight against efforts in Delaware and nationwide to curtail reproductive rights.”


DOJ, Wilmington PD Indict Gun Offenders on 75 Charges

Indictment includes multiple Attempted Murder, Vehicle Theft charges

Four Wilmington men have been indicted following an investigation into a series of connected events in which the defendants are alleged to have stolen motor vehicles and used them in shootings. The defendants – Kyair Keys, Walike Parham, Markel Richards, and Jahmir Morris-Whit – collectively face 75 charges, including 63 felonies, for crimes alleged to have occurred between January 14 and January 22, 2022.

“This is fantastic work by Wilmington Police Department and our prosecutors, and a testament to the kind of partnerships that are helping us tackle gun crime in Wilmington,” said Attorney General Jennings. “This was a disturbing, reckless, and senseless pattern of violence, and we are extremely fortunate that nobody suffered greater harm. We will work to ensure swift and full justice on behalf of the victims and of the people of our state.”

“This indictment includes charges for a number of serious offenses committed over the course of a 9-day period, including a shooting incident, several shots fired incidents, multiple vehicle thefts and a carjacking, with incidents taking place in and around the City of Wilmington,” said Wilmington Police Chief Robert J. Tracy. “I am proud of the work of our investigators, and appreciative of the collaborations with our partner agencies and the Attorney General’s Office, as we work collectively to hold dangerous offenders accountable for threatening public safety.”

On January 14, at approximately 3:37 p.m., shots were fired on the 300 block of West 23rd Street in Wilmington. Multiple shell casings were discovered at the scene of the incident, where a daycare — occupied by a teacher and three children — was struck multiple times.  The teacher and children were thankfully unharmed.

On January 20, at approximately 8:46 p.m., Wilmington Police patrol officers on proactive patrol heard gunfire in the area of the 1000 block of Lombard Street in Wilmington.  Upon arrival, they observed four armed subjects enter a vehicle.  A vehicle pursuit then ensued. Eventually, the subjects abandoned the vehicle and fled.  At this time, Jahmir Morris-Whitt was taken into custody and a firearm was recovered.  The vehicle used in the incident was found to be stolen out of Newark Police Department’s jurisdiction.

On January 22, at approximately 2:34 a.m., Wilmington Police patrol officers responded to a shots-fired incident at a BP gas station at 201 South Heald Street in Wilmington. It was determined that a victim was shot at multiple times by several suspects.  The victim was uninjured and able to flee.  The vehicles used by the suspects were found to be stolen out of Delaware State Police and Elkton Police Department’s jurisdictions.

The same day, at approximately 4:06 p.m., Wilmington Police patrol officers responded to a shots-fired incident in the 300 block of West 7th Street and determined that several armed subjects fired at a group of bystanders. No one was harmed in this incident.  The investigation revealed that the armed subjects fired from a white Dodge Charger that had been stolen out of Philadelphia, PA earlier that day.

At approximately 9:35 p.m. that night, Wilmington Police patrol officers saw the aforementioned Dodge Charger. A pursuit, at times in excess of 100 miles per hour, ensued through the City of Wilmington and North Wilmington, finally ending on I-95. Kyair Keys, Markel Richards, and Walike Parham were taken into custody along with two firearms.

Charges in the indictment are as follows:

Kyair Keys, 18

 

  • Attempted Murder 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Attempted Assault 1st Degree
  • Five counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
  • Five counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited
  • Conspiracy 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Conspiracy 2nd Degree
  • Two counts of Reckless Endangering 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Criminal Mischief
  • Resisting Arrest
  • Disregarding a Police Officer’s Signal
  • Driving a Vehicle Without a Valid License
  • Unreasonable Speed

 

Jahmir Morris-Whitt, 21

 

  • Two counts of Attempted Murder 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Attempted Assault 1st Degree
  • Three counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
  • Two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited
  • Conspiracy 1st Degree
  • Conspiracy 2nd Degree
  • Reckless Endangering 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Criminal Mischief
  • Resisting Arrest

Markel Richards, 20

 

  • Three counts of Attempted Murder 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
  • Four counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited
  • Two counts of Conspiracy 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Conspiracy 2nd Degree
  • Two counts of Criminal Mischief
  • Two counts of Theft of a Motor Vehicle
  • Resisting Arrest

Walike Parham, 23

 

  • Three counts of Attempted Murder 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony
  • Four counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited
  • Two counts of Conspiracy 1st Degree
  • Two counts of Conspiracy 2nd Degree
  • Two counts of Criminal Mischief
  • Two counts of Theft of a Motor Vehicle
  • Resisting Arrest

 

The indictment was secured by Deputy Attorney General Jill Schroeder following an investigation led by Det. Brendan Wham of the Wilmington Police Department, who was able to link these investigations and investigations in other jurisdictions.


Attorney General Jennings Announces $141 Million TurboTax Settlement

All 50 states reach agreement with Intuit for deceiving low-income Americans into paying for free tax services

Attorney General Kathy Jennings today secured over $400,000 for low-income Delawareans from the owner of TurboTax, Intuit Inc. (Intuit), for deceiving Delaware consumers into paying for tax services that should have been free. As a result of a multistate agreement, Intuit will pay $141 million in restitution to millions of consumers across the nation who were unfairly charged. In addition, Intuit must suspend TurboTax’s “free, free, free” ad campaign that lured customers with promises of free tax preparation services, only to deceive them into paying for services. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed onto the agreement.

”Intuit benefited from a special agreement with the U.S. government to provide free tax services to low-income consumers nationwide, all while preventing Delawarean consumers from taking advantage of those free services,” Attorney General Jennings said. “Intuit engaged in deceptive and unfair tactics to hide access to free services and to instead promote its own profit-generating tax filing products instead. Delawareans who struggle to put food on the table shouldn’t be tricked into paying for tax preparation services they don’t need. My office will continue to protect consumers statewide and be on the lookout for businesses who seek to take advantage of them.”

An investigation into Intuit began after ProPublica reported that the company was using deceptive digital tactics to steer low-income consumers toward its commercial products and away from federally-supported free tax services.

Intuit has offered two free versions of TurboTax. One was through its participation in the IRS Free File Program, a public-private partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which allows taxpayers earning roughly $34,000 and members of the military to file their taxes for free. In exchange for participating in the program, the IRS agreed not to compete with Intuit and other tax-prep companies by providing its own electronic tax preparation and filing services to American taxpayers.

In addition, Intuit offers a commercial product called “TurboTax Free Edition,” which is only free for taxpayers with “simple returns” as defined by Intuit. In recent years, TurboTax has marketed this “freemium” product aggressively, including through ad campaigns where “free” is the most prominent or sometimes the only selling point. In some ads, the company repeated the word “free” dozens of times in as short as 30 seconds. However, the TurboTax “freemium” product is only free for approximately one-third of US taxpayers. In contrast, the IRS Free File product was free for 70 percent of taxpayers.

The multistate investigation found that Intuit engaged in several deceptive and unfair trade practices that limited consumers’ participation in the IRS Free File Program. The company used confusingly similar names for both its IRS Free File product and its commercial “freemium” product. Intuit bid on paid search advertisements to direct consumers who were looking for the IRS Free File product to the TurboTax “freemium” product instead. Intuit also purposefully blocked its IRS Free File landing page from search engine results during the 2019 tax filing season, effectively shutting out eligible taxpayers from filing their taxes for free. Moreover, TurboTax’s website included a “Products and Pricing” page that stated it would “recommend the right tax solution,” but never displayed or recommended the IRS Free File program, even when consumers were ineligible for the “freemium” product.

Under the agreement, Intuit will provide restitution to millions of consumers who started using TurboTax’s Free Edition for tax years 2016 through 2018 and were told that they had to pay to file even though they were eligible to file for free using the version of TurboTax offered as part of the IRS Free File program. Consumers are expected to receive a direct payment of approximately $30 for each year that they were deceived into paying for filing services. Impacted consumers will automatically receive notices and a check by mail.

Intuit has also agreed to reform its business practices, including:

  • Refraining from making misrepresentations in connection with promoting or offering any online tax preparation products;
  • Enhancing disclosures in its advertising and marketing of free products;
  • Designing its products to better inform users whether they will be eligible to file their taxes for free; and
  • Refraining from requiring consumers to start their tax filing over if they exit one of Intuit’s paid products to use a free product instead.

Intuit withdrew from the IRS Free File program in July 2021.

This matter was handled for the Delaware Department of Justice by its Consumer Protection Unit.

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DCRPT Secures Prison Sentence in Sussex County Hate Crime

A Sussex County man has been sentenced to two years in prison for a hate crime involving a neighbor.

James Raab, of Laurel, was sentenced on April 22 after pleading guilty to felony Hate Crime, Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, Aggravated Menacing, and Resisting Arrest. Raab, 38, was arrested following investigation into an incident in which he threatened a neighbor with a knife while yelling racial slurs.

“These crimes have the potential to shake entire communities and rob them of their sense of peace and security,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “We cannot allow racial, religious, or other hate-motivated crime to fester. I am grateful to the prosecutors in the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust and Delaware State Police for working to ensure that hate has no safe quarter in this state.”

Raab has remained incarcerated since his arrest on May, 25, 2021. This sentence was secured by Deputy Attorney General David Skoranski with the assistance of DOJ Paralegal Trisha McGinnis following an investigation led by the Delaware State Police, Troop 5.

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DOJ, Community Partners, Amazon to Host Expungement and Employment fair April 28 

In honor of Second Chance Month, the Delaware DOJ’s Community Engagement Unit is partnering with the Delaware Center for Justice and several community groups to host a joint job fair and expungement clinic at the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center in New Castle on Thursday, April 28 from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. The fair, supported by charitable funding from Amazon, will also be available online via Zoom, though the job fair component will be in-person only.

“I’m grateful to our team in the Community Engagement Unit, the Delaware Center for Justice, Amazon, and all of our partners who have worked so hard to put this event together,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “These kinds of opportunities help reduce recidivism and enrich our neighborhoods by helping people who have paid their debts to society get a second chance to build a healthy, lawful life.”

Guests will be able to connect with employers, meet with attorneys to review their eligibility for expungements or pardons, receive financial assistance with the record clearance process, create a resume, and access other services. Food and drinks will be provided.

In addition to participating as a hiring employer, Amazon is supporting this event with funding to two participating partners, the Delaware Center for Justice and Parents With Incarcerated Children.

“Amazon is proud to be a partner in this great event with Attorney General Jennings, the Delaware Center for Justice, and more,” said John Schwartz, General Manager of the Amazon Facility in New Castle. “We look forward to talking with participants about everything Amazon has to offer which includes a starting wage in line with our national average of $18 per hour, our Career Choice program, which provides fully funded educational opportunities and job training, and our comprehensive benefits package.”

Other community partners and service providers participating in the event include the Office of Defense Services, the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System, Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, Clean Slate Delaware, the ACLU of Delaware, and APEX.

While walk-ins are welcome, members of the public are strongly encouraged to pre-register to attend in-person or virtually at bit.ly/2ndchancesfair.