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


DCRPT Secures Convictions Against Former Land Bank Director

The Delaware Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust (DCRPT) has secured two convictions against William Freeborn, the former Executive Director of the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank (WNCLB).

“If you abuse the public’s trust we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Jennings. “The defendant used a position of public confidence to unethically and illegally secure thousands of dollars for his personal benefit. His acceptance of responsibility will bring closure and compensation to his victims, bans him from managing the public’s money, and requires him to volunteer for the people of Wilmington as part of his probation. Nobody should be beneath justice, and nobody should be above the law.”

Freeborn, 67, pleaded guilty Tuesday to Official Misconduct and Theft after confessing to knowingly accepting at least $28,000 in unauthorized cash deposits for properties that, despite his misrepresentations, did not yet belong to the Land Bank. Under the plea, Freeborn:

  • made restitution of the misappropriated $28,000, and stipulated to a mechanism for forthcoming claims;
  • agreed never again to hold a position of control over the finances of any nonprofit or government agency/program;
  • may have no contact with the WNCLB, the Wilmington Housing Authority, or the membership/employees of either enterprise;
  • must complete 50 hours of community service to the City of Wilmington; and
  • will serve one year of probation, in addition to a suspended one-year prison sentence

For a period of 90 days, additional claimants may submit documentation, under penalty of perjury, to DCRPT for restitution at publictrust@delaware.gov or (302) 577-5400.

DCRPT became aware of Freeborn’s conduct after WNCLB staff and Board Members recognized financial irregularities and contacted the DOJ. DCRPT Director Mark Denney secured Freeborn’s plea.


DOJ Seeks Public’s Assistance in Sussex County Sexual Abuse Case

Prosecutors seek additional victims of Ellendale pastor

The Delaware Department of Justice is seeking the public’s assistance in the prosecution of a Sussex County pastor indicted for Unlawful Sexual Contact, and is requesting that any additional victims contact law enforcement. Major Foster, a Lincoln man who at the time was employed as pastor of Ellendale’s Philadelphia Pentecostal Holiness Church, faces pending charges after inappropriately touching multiple women.

“I am grateful to the women who have come forward to the Delaware State Police and our prosecutors,” said Attorney General Jennings. “We have reason to believe that Foster’s alleged years long pattern of abuse includes as yet unreported, additional instances. We ask that any additional victims or witnesses with information come forward. We will be there to support you.”

Foster was indicted in November by a Sussex County grand jury on three counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact 3rd Degree, following an investigation into multiple reports that, from 2013 to 2020, he attempted to use scripture to coerce female parishioners into sexual relationships, made inappropriate comments, and instigated prolonged hugs during which he made inappropriate sexual contact with his victims. Foster was also charged with Offensive Touching for pushing a victim’s husband when confronted.

The State was aware of three victims at the time of Foster’s original indictment; prosecutors now have reason to believe that additional victims may be unidentified. The State implores anyone whom Foster has harmed or who has additional information about the case to contact Delaware State Police. Anyone with additional information should contact Det. L. Coleman, Delaware State Police – Troop 4, at (302) 752-3813.


DOJ releases February violent crime prosecution recap

Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Friday that the Department of Justice charged 130 gun offenders and secured more than 245 total years in prison sentences on 18 gun convictions in the month of February.  Since 2019, the DOJ has an 83% conviction rate in Superior Court gun cases.

“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 rising 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 February include:

 

Convictions

  • State v. John Cameron: Defendant pleaded guilty to Murder 1st Degree for the strangulation of his cellmate, Phillip Langell.
  • State v. Juan Sanchez: Defendant, a serial burglar, pleaded guilty to Burglary 2nd Degree (two counts).
  • State v. Cecilia Oriano-Sanchez:Defendant pleaded guilty to Vehicular Homicide Second Degree. She was speeding and fell asleep behind the wheel, causing her vehicle to veer off of the roadway and strike another vehicle waiting to exit a gas station, killing the driver of the other vehicle.
  • State v. Isaiah Baird: Defendant pleaded guilty to Manslaughter and Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony.
  • State v. Fernando Garcia: Defendant pleaded guilty to Rape 4th Degree and is scheduled for sentencing in April.
  • State v. Nyjir Lee: Defendant pleaded guilty to Rape 2nd Degree and is scheduled for sentencing in April.
  • State v. Taha El-Abaddi: Defendant was convicted of Murder by Neglect 1stDegree and faces 15 years to life in prison.
  • State v. Labeeb Perkins: Defendant was convicted of Unlawful Sexual Contact 2nd Degree.
  • State. v. Clarence Rivera: Defendant pleaded guilty to Manslaughter, Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony for the July 2017 killing of Cyree Watson and faces up to 13 years in prison.
  • State v. Christopher Owens/Imburgia: Defendant pleaded guilty to Aggravated Menacing, Unlawful Imprisonment 2nd Degree, Breach of Conditions of Bond During Commitment (two counts), Act of Intimidation (two counts), and Stalking.
  • State v. Michael Reynolds:Defendant pleaded guilty to Strangulation, Reckless Endangering 2nd Degree and Felony Non-Compliance with Conditions of Bond.
  • State v. Christopher Miller:Defendant pleaded guilty to Child Abuse 2nd Degree (two counts) in a case where the victim sustained a number of fractured bones.
  • State v. Michael Deblasio: Defendant was convicted at trial of Driving Under the Influence (4th offense), Vehicular Assault 2nd Degree, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and other traffic offenses.
  • State v. Anthony Wallace: Defendant pleaded guilty to Stalking, Assault 2ndDegree, Malicious Interference with Communications, and Criminal Contempt of a Protection from Abuse Order.
  • State v. Teodoro Diaz: Defendant was convicted at trial of Unlawful Imprisonment 2nd Degree and Offensive Touching.
  • State v. Marvell Watts: Defendant was convicted at trial of Criminal Contempt of a Protection from Abuse Order and Violation of a Protective Order.
  • State v. Dacrysha Flowers: Defendant pleaded guilty to Concealed Carry of a Deadly Weapon and Drug Dealing Tier 2.
  • State v. Joshua Dudley: Victim pleaded guilty to Providing a False Written Statement after acting as a straw purchaser on a gun purchase.

 

Sentences

  • State v. Samuel Palmer: Defendant pleaded guilty to Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Defendant was apprehended with an AR-15 after a police chase and was prohibited due to two prior violent felony convictions.
  • State v. Orrin Daniels: Defendant pleaded guilty to Reckless Endangering 1st Degree (two counts), Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony, and Felony Resisting Arrest after driving his vehicle toward two WPD officers responding to a domestic violence incident. The State requested 10 years in prison based on the facts, prior record, and the Defendant’s probationary status at the time of the offense; Defendant was ultimately sentenced to 4 years in prison followed by probation.
  • State v. Rashid Roane: Defendant pleaded guilty to Assault 1st Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
  • State v. Ronnie Williams: Defendant was convicted on charges of Rape 2ndDegree, Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, Sexual Solicitation of a Child, Sexual Abuse by a Person in a Position of Trust 2nd Degree, and Unlawful Sexual Contact 1st Degree and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
  • State v. Henry Rivera: Defendant entered a pre-indictment guilty plea to Robbery 1st Degree and was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
  • State v. Zun Kebei: Defendant pleaded guilty to Vehicular Assault 1stDegree and Driving Under the Influence (two counts) and was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
  • State v. Kalif Reeves: Defendant pleaded guilty to Murder 2nd Degree for the March 2018 murder of William Laws and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Reeves’ codefendants (Edwin Rivera, Shai Thodos and Noah Youngs) were sentenced in 2019.
  • State v. Maleke Brittingham: Defendant was sentenced to 5 years in prison for his role in the robbery and murder of Tony Berry and Behk Suk at the Printz Deli in June 2013. Mitigating factors included the Defendant’s testimony against co-defendant Anthony Dale and expiration of a relevant statute of limitations.
  • State v. Indi Islam: Defendant was sentenced to 3 years in prison for her role as an accomplice in the robbery and murder of Tony Berry and Behk Suk at the Printz Deli in June 2013. Mitigating factors included Defendant’s testimony against co-defendant Anthony Dale and expiration of a relevant statute of limitations.
  • State v. Devin Coleman: Defendant was designated a habitual offender and sentenced to 29 years in prison for Possession of Fentanyl and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited. This case stemmed from Operation Rise n Shyne.
  • State v. Michael Taylor: Defendant was sentenced to 5 years in prison for Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony and Drug Dealing. This case stemmed from Operation Rise n Shyne.
  • State v. Marquis Mack: Defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison for Felony Drug Dealing (five counts). This case stemmed from Operation Rise n Shyne.
  • State v. Michael Hastings: Defendant was sentenced to 4 years in prison for Reckless Endangerment 1st Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony after pointing a loaded gun at protesters at a political rally.
  • State v. Marquise Byrd: Defendant was sentenced to 3 years in prison followed by probation after pleading guilty to Reckless Endangering 1stDegree and of Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. During an argument with his girlfriend, and while intoxicated, Defendant accidently discharged a firearm through the floor, almost striking the victim who was sleeping in the apartment below.
  • State v. Ronald Cochran: Defendant was sentenced to a total of 65 years in prison, suspended after 15 years for Attempted Assault First Degree (two counts), Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony (two counts), and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited. Defendant had fired a weapon at multiple police officers but, luckily, did not strike any.
  • State v. Clarence Weatherspoon:Defendant pleaded guilty to Rape 4thDegree and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended to 4 years in prison followed by probation.
  • State v. Lemmon Pitts: Defendant pleaded guilty to Child Abuse for the rape of his granddaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, suspended after serving 20 years, followed by 10 years of probation. Defendant will register as a sex offender pursuant to statute and is to have no contact with the victim or anyone under 18.
  • State v. Nicholas Savage: Defendant pleaded guilty to a Hate Crime with an underlying offense of Aggravated Menacing and was sentenced to 8 years in prison suspended after serving 9 months for 2 years probation, plus orders to undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluations, complete anger management counseling, and have no contact with the victims, among other conditions.

 

New charges

  • State v. Israel Lecompte: Defendant was indicted for 12 charges including Murder 1st Degree (two counts), and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony (four counts). The Defendant, who is also charged with multiple violent offenses in the NorthPak gang case, is accused of murdering Nathan Smith in the Knollwood community of Claymont in July 2021
  • State v. Edward Martin: Defendant was charged with Murder 1st Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Concealed Carry of a Deadly Weapon for the February 20, 2022 fatal shooting of Arrick Richards.
  • State v. Kahlim Hopkins: Defendant was charged with Murder 1st Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited for the February 20, 2022 fatal shooting of Nicholas Davis.
  • State v. Samuel Waters: Defendant, a former Wilmington Police Department officer, was charged with Tampering with Public Records 1st Degree, Perjury 2nd Degree, Assault 3rd Degree (three counts), Official Misconduct (two counts) and Falsifying a Business Record in connection with two excessive force incidents in September 2021.
  • State v. Keyon Ealy: Defendant was charged with Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another (36 counts) and False Statement (29 counts) in connection with the straw purchases.
  • State v. Karen Morris and Shane Willey: Defendant was charged with Engaging in a Firearms Transaction Behalf of Another (nine counts) and False Statement (five counts); Willey was charged with Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another (three  counts) and Conspiracy 2nd Degree. Both defendants were charged in connection with straw purchases.
  • State v. Malik Jarvis: Defendant was charged with False Statement (four counts) in connection with straw purchases.
  • State v. Paige Morris: Defendant is charged with Engaging in a Firearms Transaction on Behalf of Another (two counts), Providing a Firearm to a Person Prohibited, and False Statement.
  • State v. Kecia Rosado: Defendant, a suspended WPD officer, was charged with Burglary 1st Degree, Assault 2ndDegree, Unlawful Imprisonment 2ndDegree, and Offensive Touching following an investigation into an attack against her intimate partner.
  • State v. George Johnson, Stephen Garrison, Terrance Jones, Tara Weston, Lamont Johnson, Quasean Deputy, Harrell Richards, Lentia Brown, Alvin Dixon, Brandon Garrison, Christopher Sturgis, Deshawn Hines, Glen Jacobs, Jermaze White, Joquon Nocks, Joronta Dixon, Linwood Nocks, Montez Purnell, Paul Parker, Someeka Dixon, Tynessa Garrison, Wayne Majors, Dajion Garrison, Ashley Marshall, Allen White, Andre Washington, Antonio Bailey, Suzanna Baker, Damarius Turnage, James Brown, Jaun’ye Paul, Kevin Ricketts, Lemuel Hurst, Semeion Reed, Sherita Gunby, Stephon McDonald, Yonta Turnage, and Roy Nichols: Defendants are charged with 280 crimes, including Racketeering, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Conspiracy, and a multitude of high-tier drug dealing charges, following a joint operation by the Delaware State Police, Delaware Department of Justice, and Maryland/Pennsylvania law enforcement authorities, which eliminated Sussex County’s largest heroin trafficking organization in Sussex County.

 

ICYMI


AG Jennings Issues Consumer, Investor Advisories Related to the Conflict in Ukraine 

Attorney General Kathy Jennings, the DOJ’s Consumer Protection Unit, and the DOJ’s Investor Protection Unit are issuing cautionary advisories for consumers and investors related to the risk of scams, cyber attacks, and investment threats related to the conflict in Ukraine.

Attorney General Jennings and the Consumer Protection Unit advise Delawareans to be vigilant about scams and fraud in connection with charitable efforts to support the people of Ukraine.  Scammers will capitalize on the worst of human suffering to steal and fraudulently obtain money, and the DOJ recommends that all Delawareans exercise diligence against scams associated with, and fraudulent solicitations made on behalf of, charities claiming to aid the victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It speaks volumes of our neighbors that so many Delawareans have taken action to help the Ukrainian people,” said Attorney General Jennings.  “Unfortunately, scammers are shameless and see a crisis as an opportunity. To protect yourself, and to ensure that your donations reach people in need, everyone should take steps to ensure that their contributions go to legitimate causes.  My office will do its part in ensuring that those who seek to profit from the pain and suffering of the Ukrainian people are investigated and brought to justice.”

Delawareans are advised to consider all of the following before making a donation to a charitable organization purporting to be working to stave off the injuries currently being felt by the Ukrainian people:

  • Slow down. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to give immediately.  It’s better to make a slower but more effective donation than it is to make a quick donation that provides little effective support to the cause you’re trying to help.
  • Know who you’re giving to and what your money will do. Research charities online, including reviewing their websites and independent evaluators like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and the Better Business Bureau. Focus on the charity’s stated purpose and how much they spend on overhead, employee compensation, and fundraising.  If the charity is unfamiliar, contact the charity and ask for this information in writing.
  • Check for charity filings. Consumers should also search for the charity on the IRS website or look for the charity’s 990 tax filings. This will help you confirm that the charity is a legitimate 501(c)(3) charity.
  • Know who’s asking. If you receive a call from a telemarketer or other solicitation that you did not expect, ask the same questions you would research about their organization online.  Callers refusing give you those answers, or pressuring you into make an immediate donation, could be a red flag about red flags.
  • Be cautious about social fundraising requests. You shouldn’t assume that because a friend or family member has donated to an organization that they have done their research.  Ask!  This is doubly true for social media and network solicitations
  • Watch out for similar names and websites. Fraudulent charities might mimic or parrot the names of familiar charities, hoping that unsuspecting donors will mistake a fraudulent organization for a legitimate one. Always double-check website names and URLs to confirm that the organization is legitimate, and pay attention to follow-up solicitations about pledges you never made or websites you never visited.
  • Protect your identity. Never give someone your Social Security Number in connection with a charitable donation, and never give out any other personal information to a charity that you have not researched.
  • Report it. If you believe that you have been victimized or identified such a fraudulent practice, please report it to the DOJ’s Fraud Division at de.gov/consumercomplaint or (800) 220-5424.

Attorney General Jennings and the DOJ’s Investor Protection Unit are also cautioning investors and securities firms to be wary of increased threats from cyber attacks and potential investment scams due to the escalating conflict in Ukraine.

“Difficult times can bring out the best in people, but unfortunately there are also bad actors looking to exploit crises to scam investors,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Investors and firms alike should make sure they are taking the steps necessary to safeguard financial information and are on the lookout for potential investment scams and cybersecurity breaches.”

The Investor Protection Unit offers the following tips for investors:

  • Be skeptical of investment opportunities linked to the headlines. We are all aware of the rising costs of energy and fuel. Fraudsters may seek to take advantage of the rising gas prices to try and pitch extremely risky or bogus investments within the energy sector including possible oil and gas deals.
  • Do your homework. Given the recent volatility in the financial markets, investors are likely concerned about their retirement accounts. Unscrupulous promoters may look to prey on this concern and attempt to convince investors to leave the regulated markets in favor of “less volatile” or “stable” investment opportunities. Investors are cautioned to investigate the background of the person and firm offering the investment and the investment itself. Check with the Investor Protection Unit to determine if the person is registered to sell investments and if the investment has been registered. Consult with your financial professional before making decisions to sell any of your investments.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly and take steps to protect your financial data. Be sure to keep an eye on your brokerage, bank, and credit card statements to spot potential fraudulent or suspicious transactions. Contact your financial professional, bank, or credit card issuer immediately if you see any questionable transaction or charge. Take steps to protect your financial data such as updating passwords and using dual-factor authentication when it is available.

Investors with questions about the material above may contact the Investor Protection Unit at (302) 577-8424.