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.


DOJ Releases March Violent Crime Prosecution Recap 

Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Friday that the Department of Justice charged 102 gun offenders and secured 279.5 total years in prison sentences on 67 gun convictions in the month of March.

“My first priority is combatting violent crime—particularly gun crimes,” said AG Jennings.  “Gun violence is a both a national crisis and a local one. In Delaware, guns are overwhelmingly the driving force behind violent crimes, and the strongest predictor that violent crime will turn deadly. This office has consistently prosecuted and convicted gun offenders at an extremely high rate, and we will continue to find and prosecute gun criminals and gun traffickers in every corner of this state.”

Other violent case highlights from March include:

Convictions

  • State v. Aaron Garnett: Defendant was found guilty of Murder 1st Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child (three counts), and Offensive Touching.  Garnett brutally beat and murdered his girlfriend, Naquita Hill, after a domestic dispute.  He then left Ms. Hill on the floor of her home and departed the residence on foot, accompanied by her young child and two of her nieces/nephews.  Someone saw Garnett offensively touch the older child at a local Wawa and called police.  Officers eventually found Ms. Hill’s body in her residence when they went to look for the children’s caregiver. Garnett will be sentenced at a later date.
  • State v. David Fletcher: Defendant pleaded guilty to Murder 2ndDegree and Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony after fatally stabbing his estranged wife after an argument. Defendant faces a minimum mandatory 17 years in prison; the State will argue for a 25-year prison sentence.
  • State v. Alazhia Wilson: Defendant pleaded guilty to Manslaughter for the October 2020 killing of Tierra Herring in Wilmington. Sentencing will be held at a later date.
  • State v. Pierre Carter Bailey: Defendant pleaded guilty to Gang Participation, Assault 1st Degree, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and faces up to 10 years in prison.
  • State v. Richard Haines: Defendant was found guilty of 77 charges connected to the sexual abuse of two young victims, including Attempted Rape 1stDegree, Attempted Sexual Abuse of a Child by Person of Trust 1st Degree, Rape 2nd Degree (31 counts), Rape 4th Degree (10 counts), Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person of Trust 1st Degree (5 counts), Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person of Trust 2nd Degree (8 counts), Unlawful Sexual Contact 1st Degree (4 counts), Unlawful Sexual Contact 2nd Degree (13 counts), Continuous Sexual Abuse (2 counts) and Endangering the Welfare of a Child (2 counts). Haines is pending sentencing and effectively faces multiple life sentences.
  • State v. Diandre Willis: Defendant was found guilty of Stalking, Harassment, Rape 1st Degree (two counts), Home Invasion Burglary 1st Degree (two counts), Kidnapping 1st Degree, Strangulation, Terroristic Threatening, Malicious Interference with Emergency Communications, Breach of Release (two counts), Act of Intimidation (two counts), Breach of Conditions During Confinement (two counts), and Bribing a Witness.  Willis faces a minimum of 34 years in prison as a result of the convictions.
  • State v. Lavance Wilmore: Defendant pleaded guilty to Sexual Abuse of a Child by a Person in a Position of Trust 1stDegree and Rape 3rd
  • State v. Korey Lackford: Defendant pleaded guilty to Strangulation and felony Breach of Release and faces open sentencing.
  • State v. Jose Dominguez Medina: Defendant pleaded guilty to Strangulation and faces open sentencing.
  • State v. RaeSheed DeShields: Defendant pleaded guilty to Assault 1st Degree in a case where he accidentally shot his friend from the backseat of a car after handling the gun while impaired by drugs and alcohol.  Sentencing is deferred for the victim to provide a victim impact statement.  DeShields’ bail was revoked and he will face a minimum mandatory 2 year prison sentence.
  • State v. Daniel Mopkins: Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and one count of Reckless Endangering, and faces a minimum mandatory 3 year prison sentence, with a cap of 5 years.
  • State v. Lamar Massas: Defendant pleaded guilty to Conspiracy 2ndDegree, Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited and Possession of a Weapon with a Removed or Obliterated Serial Number.
  • State v. Daniel Gutridge: Defendant pleaded guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited and is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
  • State v. Alvin Hines: Defendant was found guilty at trial of Resisting Arrest with Force, Offensive Touching of Law Enforcement, and Disorderly Conduct. Hines will be sentenced in May. Hines will also be sentenced for earlier convictions for obliterating a firearm serial number and being intoxicated with a firearm.
  • State v. Patrick Foster: Defendant pleaded guilty to Aggravated Menacing after threatening a FedEx driver with a knife for blocking the roadway, then punching the driver in the face multiple times.
  • State v. Lazaro Corrales: Defendant pleaded guilty to Drug Dealing Cocaine (Class C) and Conspiracy 2nd Degree and faces open sentencing.

 

Sentences

  • State v. Michael Scaggs: Defendant was sentenced to life plus 20 years for Rape 1st Degree, Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, and Sexual Solicitation of a Child.
  • State v. Qymere Maddrey: Defendant was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the August 2018 murder of Phillip Chapman.
  • State v. Marquis Crews-Foster: Defendant was sentenced to 15 years in prison for Manslaughter and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony in connection with the February 2020 murder of Wade Hammond
  • State v. Vincente Valencia: Defendant pleaded guilty to Drug Dealing (Tier 2) and was sentenced to 15 years. Valencia’s sentence will be suspended after 9 months to facilitate a transfer to federal custody, where he faces his third illegal re-entry charge. Valencia also faces homicide charges in Panama.
  • State v. Aaron Tucker: Defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus probation after pleading guilty to Unlawful Sexual Contact 1stDegree (three counts) and Breach of Bond During Commitment.
  • State v.  Kevin Miller: Defendant was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to Assault 1st
  • State v. Aristeed Brooks: Defendant pleaded guilty to Drug Dealing (two counts) and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
  • State v. George Robinson: Defendant pleaded guilty to Drug Dealing and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
  • State v. Derek Hopkins: Defendant was sentenced to eight years in prison, suspended to six years in prison plus probation, for felony Drug Dealing, felony Failure to Stop at Command, and numerous misdemeanor and Title 21 convictions.
  • State v. Desidel Juarez-Diaz: Defendant pleaded guilty to Assault 1stDegree, Reckless Endangering 1st Degree, and Carrying a Concealed Deadly Weapon and was sentenced to five years in prison plus probation for shooting and injuring the father of his girlfriend’s child during a custody exchange.
  • State v. Eric Brooks: Defendant pleaded guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited and was sentenced to five years in prison plus probation.
  • State v. Amir Brundge: Defendant was sentenced to a total of four years in prison after pleading guilty to Reckless Endangering 1st Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony in connection with an incident in which multiple rounds were fired at a house; thankfully, nobody was hit.
  • State v. Akim Gordon: Defendant pleaded guilty to Drug Dealing (Tier 3) and Conspiracy 2nd Degree and was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison plus probation.
  • State v. Deandre Christopher: Defendant was sentenced to 15 months in prison for Stalking and four misdemeanor offenses.
  • State v. Oumar Keita: Defendant pleaded guilty to Aggravated Menacing after pulling a knife on bus driver and threatening to kill her. Keita, who is potentially subject to deportation, had served 11 months pre-trial and will be transferred to New York.
  • Sate v. Nhyjee Evans: Defendant pleaded guilty to Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited and was sentenced to nine months in prison plus probation.

New charges

  • State v. Estella Maldonado-Quinones and Lindsey Maldonado: Defendants were indicted on charges including Child Abuse 1st Degree and related offenses for the torture and abuse of their child.
  • State v. Brittallia Semaan: Defendant was arrested and charged after a carjacking and fatal multi-vehicle incident outside of New Castle. On March 13, Semaan carjacked a Chevrolet Trax; Semaan struggled with the vehicle’s occupants, biting and ultimately hitting one of them non-fatally with the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Semaan struck and killed Joseph Stanavich, who was walking on the shoulder of the road, then pulled into the parking lot of the SPCA on Route 9 and struck an additional victim, causing them back and neck injuries. Semaan then continued on Route 9, colliding with a Maserati at the intersection of Route 141 and Route 273 and disabling the Chevrolet. Semaan then took a Ford Explorer from a passerby who stopped to help, driving off with another occupant still in the vehicle. The Defendant later collided with another vehicle at Route 9 and Hamburg Road before being taken into custody.

 

ICYMI