Prison Time and Guilty Pleas for Members of Heroin Trafficking Group Highlight Recent Successes for the Department of Justice

Three people arrested as part of “Operation Son Sun,” one of the largest heroin trafficking organizations in the state’s history, have entered pleas for their involvement in the group.
Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney, Caterina Gatto, John Taylor, and Julie Finocchiaro secured a plea from Brian Palmer, 27, of Newark, for criminal racketeering and 5 counts of drug dealing heroin for a habitual offender.  After entering the plea, Palmer was sentenced to 16 years in jail.
Additionally, Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney and Caterina Gatto secured pleas from two other people arrested as part of “Operation Son Sun.” Lakenya Howard, 24, of Wilmington, pled to conspiracy to commit criminal racketeering, and conspiracy to commit drug dealing heroin. Mack Andino, 39, of Newark, pled to conspiracy to commit criminal racketeering, drug dealing cocaine, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. Both were arrested in November 2014.

Other sentencings that have recently been overseen by Department of Justice prosecutors include:

Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney, Jamie McCloskey and Allison Abessinio secured a 30 year prison sentence for 36-year-old William Barksdale of Wilmington, as a habitual offender, after pleading guilty to Tier 4 drug dealing and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.  Barksdale was the leader of the Silver Springs drug trafficking organization, targeted by New Castle County Police with the help of the FBI in March 2014. The break-up of the organization netted police more than 13,500 bags of heroin.

Deputy Attorneys General Mark Denney and Caterina Gatto secured a plea from Cleon Stewart, 45, of Wilmington, for drug dealing heroin, and second degree conspiracy. While conducting a drug investigation in October 2014 into a racketeering enterprise, officers watched as Stewart sold heroin in the 2500 block of Jessup Street in Wilmington. After his plea was accepted, Stewart was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Deputy Attorney General Casey Ewart secured a prison sentence for Timothy Jones, 49, of Seaford. Jones had pled guilty to one count of drug dealing and one count of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. In February 2015, Jones traded heroin to a drug user for a stolen firearm.  Jones then agreed to return the firearm and provide some additional heroin in exchange for cash. He was sentenced 5 years in prison, followed by 18 months of Level 3 probation.

Attorney General John Taylor secured a 23-year prison sentence for 28-year-old Alex Ryle of Wilmington.  In April 2014, Wilmington Police stopped Ryle in the 200 block of East 35th street for a probation violation. When taking him into custody, police found a loaded .25 caliber handgun and crack cocaine in Ryle’s pockets. Ryle was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. He was sentenced as a habitual offender.

Deputy Attorney General Tim Maguire secured a guilty plea from Ronald Grine, 40, of Wilmington, for second degree burglary. In November 2013, Grine broke into a home in the 200 block of Country Club Drive in Newark, and stole jewelry. Grine was sentenced to three years in prison.

Deputy Attorney General Karin Volker secured a prison sentence for 25-year-old Aurelio Sanchez of Mexico for second degree rape. Sanchez pled guilty to raping a 10-year-old girl while visiting her family in Delaware. Sanchez was sentenced to 25 years in prison, suspended after 18 years.

Deputy Attorney General Abigail Layton secured a plea and prison sentence for Samuel Diamond, 30, of Wilmington. An undercover investigation into child pornography led officers to execute a search warrant at Diamond’s home, where they discovered images of child pornography as defined by Delaware law. Diamond pled guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to seven months in prison followed by probation, and he must register as a Tier II sex offender.

Deputy Attorney General Jenna Milecki secured sentences for co-defendants Scott McFarland, 38, and Devin Holt, 20, both of Wilmington, on two counts of first degree robbery, one count of second degree robbery, second degree burglary, and related charges. In October 2014, McFarland and Holt committed the armed robbery of Party Pizza restaurant on Boxwood Road in Wilmington. McFarland received a total of 8 years at Level V, and Holt was sentenced to 7 years, 6 months at Level V, with both serving probation after their prison terms.

Deputy Attorney General Sonia Augusthy secured a prison sentence for 31-year-old Kenneth Fowler of Newark for drug dealing. In December 2012, Newark Police, when taking Fowler into custody on outstanding warrants, police found marijuana, cocaine, and several cell phones in the car he was driving. Fowler was sentenced to five years in prison.

Deputy Attorney General Michael DegliObizzi secured a sentence for Raymond Phipps, 50, of Wilmington, for two counts of third degree burglary, and one count of possession of burglar’s tools. During the spring of 2015, Phipps broke into three Wilmington businesses: Compton Liquors on East 9th Street, Ms. Black and White Front Door Café on North King Street, and Young’s Market on North Walnut Street. Phipps was declared a habitual offender on one burglary count, and sentenced to 18 months at Level V, to be served at the Greentree Long Program for substance abuse treatment. All other Level V time will be suspended for probation with a substance abuse component.

Deputy Attorney General John Kirk secured a sentence for Walter Cotier, 35, of Milford for four counts of third degree burglary. In 2014, Cotier was involved in string of burglaries to buildings in the Milford area. Cotier was sentenced 18 months in prison, and successful completion of the Key program, followed by Level 4 CREST program, and then Level 3 CREST aftercare.

Deputy Attorney general Stephen McDonald secured a prison sentence for Joseph Young, 41, of Newport. Earlier this year, Young pled guilty to two charges of home improvement fraud, and two charges of theft with the victim being over the age of 62. In June 2013, and December 2014, Young took money from elderly women in exchange for home repairs, but Young never performed the work. Young was sentenced to six years in prison, and though incarcerated since March, Judge Paul Wallace sentenced Young pursuant to 11 Del. C. Sec. 4204(k) (known colloquially as “K time”) whereby a defendant gets no credit for good time.

Convictions and guilty pleas were obtained by Department of Justice prosecutors in the following cases:

Deputy Attorneys General Sonia Augusthy and Christina Kontis secured a conviction against Ramon Joyner, 34, of Arlington, Virginia. In February 2015, Joyner raped and strangled and tied up a woman in a room at the Quality Inn Motel on Geoffrey Drive in Newark. A jury found Joyner guilty of first degree kidnapping, first degree unlawful sexual contact, strangulation, and malicious interference with emergency communications.

Deputy Attorney General John Taylor secured a conviction against 22-year-old Jawaun Shockley, of Wilmington, for drug dealing, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm with obliterated serial number, and possession of heroin. Shockley, who was wanted for violating his bail conditions, ran from police when they saw him in the 200 block of West 6th Street in Wilmington while on routine patrol in October 2014, and threw a loaded semi-automatic handgun as he tried to escape.

Deputy Attorney General Renee Leverette secured a conviction in a non-jury trial against William Hoyle, 46, of Wilmington for driving under the influence. He was sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for a year of Level I probation, and ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Deputy Attorney General Erika Flaschner secured a conviction in a non-jury trial against Jenna Morris, 25, of Kennedyville, Maryland, for shoplifting. In April 2015, a loss prevention officer at Walmart in Middletown, noticed Morris put items in a tote bag while shopping at the store. Morris left without paying for the items, and was stopped by security after she exited the store.

Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Song secured a conviction for driving under the influence, against 47-year-old Antonio Camacho of Middletown. Camacho was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for one year probation. He must also pay fines and court costs totaling $1,082.

Deputy Attorney General Patrick Smith secured a conviction against Jose Santos, 25, of Astoria, New York for failure to obey a traffic device, and failure to have insurance. In October 2014, officers noticed a car go straight through the intersection of Fairway Road and Dunbar Road in Newark, despite signs clearly stating all traffic must turn right. Officers approached the driver, later identified as Santos, who was unable to produce proof of insurance.

Deputy Attorney General Erika Flaschner secured a conviction against 25-year-old Vaquan Williams of Newark for shoplifting. In March of this year, Williams took a nail gun from the Home Depot Store off Route 13 in New Castle without paying for it.

Deputy Attorney General Caterina Gatto secured a conviction against 26-year-old Anthony Washington of Middletown, for drug dealing in heroin, aggravated possession of heroin, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, conspiracy second degree, and possession of drug paraphernalia. In December 2014, a State Trooper noticed a gun and what turned out to be heroin in a running, but unoccupied vehicle in the parking lot of the Fairview Inn on South Market Street in Wilmington. Video surveillance led police to a room at the motel, where they later found Washington, along with additional drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Deputy Attorney General Matthew Frawley secured a guilty plea to charges of first and second degree assault, second degree conspiracy, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited from 27-year-old Keith Campbell of Wilmington. In November 2014, Campbell walked up to a car parked in the unit block of South Street in New Castle, fired several shots at the two people in the car, striking them both. Campbell faces a minimum of 12 years at sentencing.

Deputy Attorney General Tim Maguire secured guilty pleas from 48-year old Colleen Lobo of New Castle, for aggravated menacing, endangering the welfare of a child, and resisting arrest. In February 2015, Lobo, intoxicated and armed with a knife, threatened another woman and her family who were living at the Milan Motel on Philadelphia Pike in Claymont.

Deputy Attorneys General Tim Maguire and Julie Finocchiaro secured a plea in their case against 21-year-old Joshua Campos of New Castle.  In October 2014, Campos robbed a man at gunpoint at the Hampton Walk Apartments on Bacon Avenue in New Castle. Campos pled guilty to first degree robbery, second degree assault, and second degree conspiracy. He will be sentenced in January.

Deputy Attorney General Diana Dunn secured a guilty plea for sexual extortion from 24-year-old Tyair Brown of Wilmington.  During a fight with his girlfriend in May 2015, Brown punched the woman in the face, and forced her to perform a sex act on him. Sentencing is scheduled for January.

Deputy Attorney General Phillip Casale secured a plea from 45-year-old Dereck Weddington of Wilmington for drug dealing.  In April 2015, officers viewing Wilmington’s Downtown Visions cameras, watched Weddington conduct two drug transactions in the 900 block of North Pine Street in Wilmington.

Deputy Attorney General Jenna Milecki secured a plea from 48-year-old Mandel Walker of Middletown, to third degree burglary, and disregarding a police signal.  In December 2013, a Middletown Police Officer saw Walker’s car stopped in a no parking zone in the 500 block of New Street. As the officer approached the car, Walker fled at a high rate of speed, eventually crashing his vehicle into a utility pole in the 400 block of New Street. Walker ran from the car, and was arrested a short time later after someone called police to report a man on her back porch. Walker was also convicted of second degree robbery, in connection with a May 2014 incident in which he stole items from the Home Depot in Middletown. Walker will face a minimum mandatory five-year prison sentence for the robbery.

Deputy Attorney General Michael DegliObizzi secured a plea from Enrique Torruella to drug dealing heroin. In March 2014, police stopped Torruella on I-95 near Concord Pike after he was speeding and swerving along the highway. A police K9 officer made a positive indication that Torruella had drugs in the car. After getting a search warrant, officers found 4,350 bags of heroin hidden beneath a child’s car seat. Torruella was sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended after 15 months, for 18 months Level III probation.

Deputy Attorney General Michael DegliObizzi secured a plea from 22-year-old Bruce McDade of Wilmington, for carrying a concealed deadly weapon. In September 2015, Wilmington Police received a call about a man walking in the area of Prices Park at 26th and Thatcher Streets, and carrying a gun. When officers arrived, McDade ran, fleeing into a home in the 700 block of East 26th Street. The homeowner let police inside where they arrested McDade. McDade was sentenced to 8 years Level V, suspended after 6 months at Level IV, for 6 months Level III probation.

Deputy Attorney General Michael DegliObizzi secured a plea in State v. James Dyton to third degree burglary and theft under $1500.  In August 2015, Dyton entered a car parked in the 2900 block of Biddle Street in Wilmington, and stole a black leather wallet. A few weeks later, Dyton entered a pickup truck parked in the 200 block of Bancroft Parkway, and took a set of wireless headphones, and a pair of hair clippers. He was sentenced to 4 years Level V, suspended after 60 days for Level III probation.

Deputy Attorney General Tiphanie Miller secured a guilty plea from 32-year-old Michelle Leal of Wilmington, to one count of obtaining a prescription drug by forgery.  Leal was arrested for participating in a prescription drug conspiracy, in which she was one of several people recruited to use stolen and forged prescription slips to have prescriptions for Alprazolam, a drug used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety, filled. Leal turned herself in earlier this year, and agreed to pay restitution to Delaware Medicaid and Medical Assistance in the amount of $76.99, the total paid by DMMA for the fraudulent prescription. Following her plea, Leal was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for one year at Level III probation.

Deputy Attorney General Tiphanie Miller secured a guilty plea to one count of abusing a patient or resident of a facility from James Croner, 46, of Wilmington, a former mental health associate at Meadowwood Behavioral Health Systems. In March 2015, Croner physically abused the resident for whom he provided one-to-one care for. Croner was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for one year at level II probation, suspended after six months.

Deputy Attorney General Renee Hrivnak secured a plea from Raymond Davis, 40, of Newark, to second degree assault. In August 2015, Davis entered a home in the 2600 block of North Heald Street, and found the woman who lives there sleeping on the couch next to another man. Davis had previously lived in the home with the woman. After telling the other man to leave, Davis began pushing and punching the woman.
Deputy Attorney General Renee Hrivnak secured a global plea from 25-year-old John McCormick of Bear, resolving three cases. McCormick pled guilty to aggravated menacing relating to an incident from October 2014 during which he aimed a handgun at his father and himself. He also pled guilty to two counts of second degree burglary. McCormick broke into a home in the 300 block of Taft Avenue in Wilmington through a basement window, and stole medication. In September 2015, McCormick entered a home in the 100 block of Kristins Way in Newark, and while gathering items to steal, woke up one of the residents, who along with his roommates, held McCormick until police arrived.
Deputy Attorney General Cari Chapman secured guilty pleas from David Wood, 60, of Wilmington, to aggravated menacing, terroristic threatening and second degree reckless endangering. During an argument in December 2014, Wood threw a space heater at his wife, and then pointed a gun at her and her dog which she was holding. He was sentenced to Level III probation with a focus on mental health treatment, and is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

Deputy Attorney General Zoe Plerhoples secured a sentence for Damon Rutherford, 32, of Wilmington, for second degree assault, and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony. In November 2013, Rutherford confronted his ex-girlfriend on the street outside of her friend’s home in the 1300 block of Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington. The two had a verbal argument that turned physical, and then Rutherford pulled out a BB air-pistol and shot the victim at close range in both legs. Rutherford assaulted the victim again at her own home in December 2013. Rutherford was sentenced to three years in prison for the second degree assault, suspended after one year at Level IV, suspended after six months for two years at Level III probation. For the gun charge, he was sentenced to three years in prison.


Teenager Adjudicated As An Adult on Shooting Charge Gets Six Years in Prison

Sentencing continues Delaware DOJ commitment to reducing gun violence by juveniles

A teenager from Townsend will spend the next six years in prison after pleading guilty in April to charges arising from his non-fatal shooting of two other teenagers. Deputy Attorneys General Jamie McCloskey and Caterina Gatto secured a sentence of 6 years in prison, followed by probation for Brandon Pendergast, 17, for second degree assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. In September 2014, Pendergast shot two teenagers who were walking along East Lake Street in Middletown.

Other sentencings that have recently been overseen by Department of Justice prosecutors include:

Deputy Attorney General Martin O’Connor secured a prison sentence for Jayvon Lemons, 24, of Wilmington, after Lemons pled guilty to first degree robbery, drug dealing, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and violation of probation. In December 2014, Lemons was identified as a man seen on a security camera video attempting to rob a man in the 100 block of North Clayton Street in Wilmington. When officers searched Lemons’s home, they found a loaded gun, ammunition, and 65 bags of heroin. Lemons was sentenced to 29 years in prison, suspended after 9 years 7 months, followed by probation.

Deputy Attorneys General Steve Wood and Zoe Plerhoples secured a prison sentence for 51-year-old Ivan Caraballo of Wilmington, for second degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 22 years at Level 5 suspended after 17 for probation. In May 2014, Caraballo stabbed his girlfriend, Michele Zakrzewski, to death in their home in the 900 block of Vandever Avenue.

Deputy Attorney General Abigail Layton secured a prison sentence for Purvest Allen, 40, of Wilmington for dealing in child pornography and possession of child pornography.  Allen received 3 ½ years in prison followed by probation, and must register as a Tier 2 Sex Offender. In November 2014, Allen was arrested for using a file sharing program to download and share child pornography.

Deputy Attorney General Phillip Casale secured a prison sentence for Aaron Mathis, 27, of Newark for second degree attempted robbery.  In September 2014, Mathis went into the TD Bank branch in the 200 block of East Delaware Avenue in Newark, and gave a teller a threatening note demanding money. Mathis was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended after six months, followed by six months at Level IV, then 18 months Level III probation.

Deputy Attorney General John Taylor secured a prison sentence for Tory Jenkins, 21, of Wilmington for carrying a concealed deadly weapon. During a traffic stop at the intersection of 4th and Jackson Streets in Wilmington in February of this year, police found Jenkins with an automatic handgun tucked in the waistband of his pants. Jenkins was sentenced to eight years at Level V, suspended for six months at Level IV.

Deputy Attorney General Cari Chapman secured a sentence for 40-year-old Raynardos Shockley, of New Castle. Shockley pled guilty to two counts of reckless endangering, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with abuse of his son in September 2014. Shockley was sentenced to 11 years in prison, suspended after 18 months. He will serve six months in Level IV work release, then one year on Level III probation.

Convictions and guilty pleas were obtained by Department of Justice prosecutors in the following cases:

Deputy Attorneys General Allison Abessinio and Caterina Gatto secured a conviction against Djavon Holland, 28, of Fort Washington, Maryland. In April 2014, Holland kicked in the door of a unit at the Hampton Walk Apartments in New Castle, and shot two of the people inside. Holland was convicted on one count of home invasion, two counts of first degree attempted robbery, one count of second degree assault, four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of criminal mischief. Holland faces a 24-year minimum mandatory sentence.

Deputy Attorney General Tim Maguire won a guilty verdict against Sabri Caulk, 30, of Wilmington, for drug dealing and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. During an administrative search of Caulk’s home in January 2015, officers from Wilmington Police and the State Probation and Parole Office found a gun, various rounds of ammunition, heroin that was packaged for sale, a bulletproof vest, and drug money. Caulk had been on Level III probation. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on the gun charge, and 8 years in prison, suspended for 6 months at Level IV, followed by 18 months at Level III probation.

Deputy Attorney General Michael DegliObizzi secured a plea from Alphonso Lancaster, 51, of Wilmington, for first degree robbery. In January, Lancaster robbed the M&T Bank branch in the 1000 block of North Market Street in Wilmington. He told a teller that he had a bomb, and demanded money.

Deputy Attorney General Dan McBride secured guilty pleas for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and felony assault from 26-year-old Ernest Clark of Wilmington. In November 2014, Clark ran from police answering a call about a man with a gun in the area of 6th and Madison Streets in Wilmington. While running from police, Clark tried to throw a gun onto the roof of a building, but the gun fell and hit a Wilmington Police Officer on the head.

Deputy Attorneys General Jim Kriner and Julie Finocchiaro secured guilty plea from 25-year-old Fernando Flores of Bear, for second degree murder. In October 2014, Flores assaulted his girlfriend, Paola Delgado Polanco, who was 24-weeks pregnant, resulting in her death. Flores faces 15 years to life in prison when sentenced.

Deputy Attorney General Diana Dunn secured guilty pleas to first degree robbery, and endangering the welfare of a child, from Amanda Paoletti, 30, of Wilmington. In January of this year, Paoletti demanded money from, and threatened to shoot the clerk, at the Wawa in the 700 block of Philadelphia Pike in Wilmington. Paoletti left the store and got into a taxi where her young daughter was waiting.  She is facing a three year minimum mandatory sentence. At the time of sentencing, the state has agreed to not ask for more than 12 years, with defense agreeing to not ask for less than 8 years.

Deputy Abigail Layton secured a guilty plea from Michael Motto, 22, of Sewell, New Jersey, for sexual solicitation of a child, and possession of child pornography.  In November 2014, Motto traveled to Delaware while in possession of child pornography, believing he was meting a 14-year-old boy for sex. Motto had been communicating with an undercover officer.

Deputy Attorney General Jan van Amerongen secured a plea from James Lawhorn, 51, of Dover, for sex offender unlawful sexual conduct against a child, and first degree unlawful sexual contact. In August 2014, Lawhorn, a registered sex offender, raped a nine-year-old in the parking lot of Delaware Park, after driving the girl’s mother to the casino. Lawhorn faces a minimum 25 years up to life, plus 8 years, when sentenced in December.


Refusal to Name Second Person Involved in Killing Leads to Maximum Prison Sentence for Newark Man

WILMINGTON, DE – Deputy Attorneys General within the Delaware Department of Justice had several significant recent successes.

Sentencing success:

Despite 18 months passing from time of incident until an arrest, and numerous complicating matters in the case, Deputy Attorneys General Jamie McCloskey and Colleen Norris secured a prison sentence for Myron Parker, 33, of Newark. Parker pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide in January, for the October 2012 stabbing of Michael Leger in the Glasgow Court Trailer Park, after Leger confronted Parker about driving through the neighborhood without using headlights where children were playing. After Parker refused to name a second person involved in the stabbing, Superior Court Judge Fred Silverman imposed the maximum sentence of eight years in prison, followed by probation. Silverman told Parker his refusal to provide the information was cruel to the victim’s family, and made his apology ring untrue.

Deputy Attorney General Dan McBride secured a six-year prison sentence, followed by probation, against Quentin Muldrow, 23, of Wilmington for multiple home burglaries. In September 2013, Muldrow broke into units in the Allendale Apartment complex in Newark, and the Rockwood Apartments in Bear. Muldrow has prior burglary convictions in the New Castle County Superior Court.

Deputy Attorney General Mark Denney secured a sentence against Rakeem “Dink” Mills, 26, of Wilmington, for conspiracy to commit criminal racketeering. Mills, who conspired to distribute heroin, launder money, and threaten violence while operating a drug trafficking organization, will serve a concurrent 2 years of probation to his existing 20 year jail sentence on weapons charges.

Deputy Attorneys General Cynthia Faraone and Periann Doko secured a 15-year prison sentence for Kenneth Mayo, 34, of Wilmington for possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. In September 2014, police received a tip that Mayo had a gun. Officers found Mayo sitting on the steps of a home on East 24th Street in Wilmington, with a gun tucked in his waistband.

Deputy Attorneys General Barzilai Axelrod and John Downs secured a sentence against 30-year-old Joshua Stephenson of Wilmington. In January, Stephenson was convicted in connection with the fatal shooting of his sister’s boyfriend, while Stephenson’s six-year-old nephew was in the home, on Christmas Eve 2012. Stephenson was sentenced to life in prison for second degree murder, an additional 10 years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, 10 years for possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, and 1 additional year, suspended for 1 year probation for endangering the welfare of a child.

Deputy Attorney General Matthew Frawley secured a six-year prison sentence for Ron Matthews, 54, of Newport for drug dealing. Officers with the New Castle County Police Department conducted direct undercover buys from Matthews on two separate occasions in October 2013. Matthews pled guilty to two counts of delivering heroin, and was sentenced as a habitual offender.

Deputy Attorney General Timothy Maguire secured a sentence against Steven Garnett, 44, of Gainesville, Georgia. In May 2013, Garnett broke into an occupied Newark home at night, and stole property from inside. Garnett was sentenced as a habitual offender to eight years in prison. Garnett was also sentenced to misdemeanor theft as part of the plea and was sentenced to 1 year in prison, suspended for 12 months work release, suspended after 6 months for probation for the balance.


Trial success:

Deputy Attorney General Jamie McCloskey secured a conviction against Stephen Thomas, 24, of Wilmington, for aggravated menacing, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. During a traffic stop in August 2014, Thomas pointed a gun at an officer. He dropped the gun, which police determined had recently been fired. Thomas faces at least 3 years in prison, and up to 30 years, when sentenced later this year.

Deputy Attorneys General John Downs and Josette Manning secured a guilty verdict for three counts of manslaughter against 29-year-old Travis Jones of Newark. Jones’s girlfriend and two children died in a fire in their home in October 2010. Jones will face 2 to 25 years in prison on each count when he is sentenced in September.

Resolution success:

Deputy Attorney General Timothy Maguire secured a guilty plea to second degree burglary from 23-year-old Jason Hinkle of Newark. In November 2014, Hinkle broke into a home in the unit block of Boyds Valley Drive in Newark, and stole several items, including jewelry and an iPad. Hinkle is scheduled for sentencing in September.

Deputy Attorney General Phillip Casale secured guilty pleas to first degree robbery and second degree conspiracy from Nicholas Ray, 17, of Delaware City. Along with another person, Ray robbed the 7-11 store in the 100 block of Four Seasons Parkway in Newark in December 2014. Ray pointed what appeared to be a shotgun at the clerk, and the pair took $57 and merchandise from the store. Deputy Attorney General Diana Dunn secured a plea from 50-year-old Cayetano Hernandez-Dominguez of Wilmington for sexual solicitation of a child. Hernandez-Dominguez offered an 11-year old girl $30 to $40 for sex. Hernandez-Dominguez faces 2 to 25 years in prison when sentenced in September.


Prosecution of Juveniles with Guns as Adults Highlights Recent DOJ Developments

WILMINGTON, DE – The Department of Justice’s continuing efforts to target serious juvenile gun offenses has led to the decision to hear the gun-related cases of three local teenagers in Superior Court. The Attorney General recently began personally reviewing each new juvenile gun offense, and has directed that some offenses which would previously have been handled as delinquency cases in Family Court be treated instead as adult cases due to their severity and/or the defendant’s history with the criminal justice system.

After prevailing in a Family Court hearing, the illegal gun possession case of 17-year-old John Brisco was transferred to New Castle County Superior Court. Brisco, on probation for a previous person prohibited for felony ammunition charge, was arrested in February, after a picture on one of his social media sites allegedly showed him with a gun. A probation officer found a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun in the bedroom of his Wilmington home. Deputy Attorney General Mark Denney successfully argued in Family Court for the case to be transferred to Superior Court and tried as an adult case.

The cases of two other juveniles will also be heard in Superior Court. Based on the nature of their charges, a 16-year-old and 15-year-old will both be tried as adults. The two were allegedly involved in the armed robberies of a convenience store and a donut shop in New Castle in April of this year. The Department of Justice is not releasing the identities of the juveniles pending indictment until the Superior Court agrees to try them as adults.

Trial success:

Deputy Attorneys General Periann Doko and Julie Finocchiaro secured a conviction against Curtis Finney, 21, of New Castle, in a jury trial. During a traffic stop in August 2013, police found two loaded handguns, and 378 bags of heroin in a car driven by Finney. Finney was convicted of multiple counts of drug dealing, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. As a result, Finney will receive a minimum mandatory of 22 years in prison when sentenced later this year. Finney also received an 8-year prison sentence on his violation of probation in this case when prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Mark Denney.

Deputy Attorney General John Taylor secured a conviction against 21-year-old Balisha White of New Castle in a jury trial, being found guilty of theft and resisting arrest. In August 2014, White broke into a home in the 2500 block of North Broom Street in Wilmington, stole items from the home, and then ran from police. White was immediately sentenced to a year in prison, suspended for a year’s probation on each count.

Deputy Attorney General Zachary Rosen secured a conviction against Howard Walsh, 50, of Wilmington. Walsh was found guilty on three counts of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, one count of possession of ammunition by a person prohibited, one count of carrying a concealed dangerous instrument, and one count of criminal impersonation. In October 2014, police responded to Miller’s Gun Center in New Castle after receiving reports of a person with a gun wearing body armor. A woman purchased a gun and then gave it to Walsh, who then falsely told police he was a detective.

Deputy Attorney General Caroline Brittingham secured a conviction against Leroy Mitchell, 29, of Wilmington, for drug dealing and disregarding a police officer’s signal, related to a chase with the Laurel Police Department. Mitchell drove away from police during a traffic stop, then after crashing through a fence, fled on foot. When fleeing, he threw multiple logs of heroin that had been in a bag in his car.

Deputy Attorney General Kevin Gardner secured a guilty verdict against 56-year-old Stephen Shaw of Brookhaven, PA, for his third DUI offense. In March 2014, police found Shaw slumped over the steering wheel of his car in a parking lot in the 1200 block of Savannah Road in Lewes. Police noticed the smell of alcohol, and Shaw was unable to maintain his balance once getting out of the car. A subsequent blood draw showed his blood alcohol level to be .24.

Sentencing success:

Deputy Attorney General Lindsay Taylor secured a 7-year prison sentence for 27-year-old Stephen Hoffrage of Dover, for third degree rape. Hoffrage met his 15-year-old victim on a social messaging app, and raped her at her home in Smyrna. As a result of his conviction, Hoffrage is now registered as a Tier III sex offender.

Deputy Attorney General John Taylor secured a plea form Barry White, 39, of Wilmington, for possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, and two violations of probation: one for drug dealing, the other for first degree assault. During a traffic stop in November 2014, officers noticed the smell of marijuana, and White admitted to having marijuana with him. Police also found White had a gun. The court sentenced White to 15 years suspended after 10 on the gun charge, 6 years suspended after 3 years on the assault, and re-imposed probation for the drug dealing.

Deputy Attorney General Jamie McCloskey secured a plea from 29-year-old Ralph Nock for home invasion and first degree robbery. In September 2014, Nock robbed two people at knife-point inside a home in the 100 block of Cross Avenue in New Castle. Nock was immediately sentenced to nine years in prison.

Deputy Attorney General Jamie McCloskey secured a plea from Scott Newcomer, 28, of New Castle, for second degree burglary and felony theft. In November 2014, Newcomer climbed through the window of a house in the unit block of Scottie Lane in New Castle, ransacked the house, and stole several items. Upon entering his plea, Newcomer was immediately to three years in prison.

Deputy Attorney General Timothy Maguire secured a plea from David Griffin, for a fourth DUI. Griffin was sentenced to 5 years in prison, suspended after nine months for one year supervised probation, as well as a $3,000 fine, the Statutory DUI Course/loss of license and Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring. In December 2014, Griffin was involved in a hit and run accident. He was also ordered to pay restitution.

Resolution success:

Deputy Attorney General Eric Zubrow secured guilty pleas for two counts of second degree conspiracy, and one count of criminal solicitation from Richard Ray, 27, of Wilmington. While in prison, Ray convinced his brother to commit a robbery in hopes of getting enough money for bail. He was also rearrested during his brother’s trial for witness intimidation, resulting in the second conspiracy charge.

Deputy Attorney General John Taylor secured a guilty pleas from Jamaal Dearry, 29, of Bear, for drug dealing, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. While executing a search warrant in November 2014, the Special Operations Response Team (S.O.R.T.) found drugs in an apartment on Brookside Boulevard in Newark, where Dearry was with three other people. He is facing fifteen years minimum mandatory prison time.