Grand Jury Indicts Dewey Beach Police Officer

The Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights & Public Trust announced Tuesday that a grand jury has indicted Dewey Beach police officer Gregory Lynch, Jr. in connection to an August 10 incident near Bellevue Road.

The DOJ alleges that police and EMTs were dispatched on August 10 to assist a victim who had lost consciousness and sustained an injury to the back of his head. The victim was able to sit on a stretcher but kept one foot on the ground and stated that he did not want to go to the hospital. As first responders and witnesses tried to convince the victim to lie down, Lynch grabbed the victim’s leg and put it on the stretcher. When the victim sat up on the stretcher, Lynch allegedly pushed him back down, climbed onto the stretcher, and repeatedly punched him in the face, causing the stretcher to rise off the ground and requiring others to hold the stretcher down to prevent it from flipping over. Officer Lynch then handcuffed the victim to the stretcher and pulled him into an ambulance by his neck. The victim was later treated at Beebe Hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, a broken nose, multiple hematomas, and lacerations to his face.

Lynch later claimed in a sworn affidavit that the victim had committed Strangulation and 2 counts of Offensive Touching of a Law Enforcement Officer, but those claims were contradicted by witness statements. Witnesses at the scene attested that the victim had put his hands up in an attempt to protect his face, but that he had not put his hands around Officer Lynch’s throat as Lynch had claimed in a sworn affidavit. Lynch is charged with Assault Second Degree, Perjury Second Degree, and Official Misconduct. Lynch turned himself in Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance.

The DOJ reminds the public that an indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a jury trial at which the State bears the burden of proving each charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Former Police Chief Sentenced

Michael Capriglione, former Chief of Police for the Town of Newport, was ordered to surrender his certification and sentenced to probation by a Kent County Superior Court judge today. Capriglione pleaded guilty in February to Official Misconduct (Class A Misdemeanor) and Careless Driving. In May 2018, Capriglione struck another car in the parking lot of Newport police headquarters, while driving a departmental vehicle. He later ordered the deletion of surveillance video that showed the collision. The Court sentenced Capriglione to 1 year of probation with a second year of probation that will be discharged upon completion of $8639.07 restitution to the Town of Newport and a $75.00 fine. He also must surrender his Delaware Council on Police Training Certification. Deputy Attorney General Sonia Augusthy, director of the DOJ Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust, prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Delaware State Police and Chief Investigator Frank Robinson, on behalf of the DOJ.

Augusthy Named New Director of Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust

             Deputy Attorney General Sonia Augusthy

Attorney General Matt Denn announced the appointment of Deputy Attorney General Sonia Augusthy as the new head of the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust.

Since November 2016, Augusthy served as the head of the Department of Justice’s Felony Screening Unit. Augusthy has been with the department since 2009, previously serving in the Sex Crimes Unit, and as the assistant head of the Felony Trial Unit. Before joining DOJ, Sonia was a litigation associate with the firm of Casarino, Christman, Shalk, Ransom & Doss. Augusthy is a graduate of Temple University and the Widener University School of Law.

Augusthy replaces Deputy Attorney General Allison Reardon who was recently named State Solicitor.

Attorney General Denn created the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust on his second day in office in 2015. The office is responsible for protecting individual rights and liberties of Delawareans, enforcement of laws designed to ensure citizen trust in government, and conducting investigations where other responsibilities of the department might present the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“I am grateful to have Sonia assume the duties of leader of the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust,” Attorney General Denn said. “Her experience and sound judgement will allow the office to continue to function with the same effectiveness it has since its inception.”

Former Employees of Fire Company, Charter School Plead Guilty In Separate Cases

Other Recent Cases Include Murder 2nd, Attempted Murder, Robbery, Weapons, Drugs

In two cases investigated and prosecuted by DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust:

Pace Campbell, 42, of Wilmington pled guilty to one count of felony theft and one count of Second Degree Forgery involving funds from the Wilmington Manor Fire Company, where she was an employee. During her employment, she forged three checks and stole funds. Campbell was sentenced by a Superior Court judge to 2 years of supervised probation. Campbell must also pay restitution in the amount of $9,817.40, have no adverse contact with Fire Company and its employees and board members, and participate in substance abuse evaluation and treatment. Deputy Attorneys General Dennis Kelleher and Brionna Denby, with the work of Special Investigator Jean Rothenburger, secured the guilty plea.

Tennell Brewington, a former Head of School at the Family Foundations Academy charter school in New Castle, pled guilty to Unlawful Use of a Credit Card, which is a felony, and Official Misconduct for misusing a state-issued purchasing credit card used during her employment with Family Foundations Academy. Brewington, 47, of New Castle, was sentenced by a Superior Court judge to 3 years in prison suspended for 1 year of supervised probation and one year of unsupervised probation. Brewington must pay restitution in an amount that will be determined by the court, and have no contact with Family Foundations Academy. Deputy Attorney General Dennis Kelleher and the work of Special Investigator Brittney Ketler secured the guilty plea.

In other recent cases:

Brian Goodwin, 34, of Newark pled guilty to Murder Second Degree for the April 2016 shooting death of Lauren Steed and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. The investigation by Detective Hector Garcia of the New Castle County Police revealed that Goodwin had shot Steed at his home in New Castle, then reported the incident the following day. Deputy Attorneys General Sonia Augusthy and A.J. Roop prosecuted the case. Goodwin’s sentencing by a Superior Court judge will take place in September.

A 29-year-old Wilmington man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of Attempted Murder by a Superior Court jury. Deputy Attorney General Dan McBride secured the sentence for Thomas Rivers for the attempted murder of Shurki Brown in Wilmington. In April of 2015, Brown and his acquaintance were getting into a vehicle on the 300 block of W. 7th Street when Rivers approached Brown and shot him multiple times. Five days later, Rivers was taken into custody with assistance from members of Operation Safe Streets and Probation and Parole.

Deputy Attorneys General Kelly Sheridan and Jamie McCloskey secured prison sentences for two New Castle men who committed a string of Bear robberies. In August 2016, Jaak Norman, 19, and Brandon Anderson, 18, committed armed robberies at a Dollar Tree in the Bear area multiple times over the course of 2 ½ weeks. Norman pled guilty to Robbery First Degree, Robbery Second Degree, Attempted Robbery Second Degree, Possession of a Deadly Weapon During the Commission of a Felony and Conspiracy Second and was sentenced to a total of 5 years in prison by a Superior Court judge. Anderson pled guilty to Robbery First Degree, Robbery Second Degree, Attempted Robbery Second Degree and Conspiracy Second Degree and was sentenced to a total of 3 years in prison by a Superior Court judge.

A Superior Court jury convicted Jordan Harris, 21, of Lincoln on weapons charges and multiple traffic offenses. Prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Lindsay Taylor, Harris was found guilty of Possession of a Firearm By a Person Prohibited, Possession of a Firearm Ammunition By a Person Prohibited, Resisting Arrest, and Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and minor traffic offenses. In July 2016, Delaware State Police responded to the 400 block of North Street in Milford regarding a separate case when they witnessed a car occupied by Harris and a passenger driving erratically, which triggered a low-speed pursuit. Harris faces a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence on the Possession of a Firearm By a Person Prohibited charge when sentenced in September.

Deputy Attorney General Haley King secured a drug-related conviction after a seven-day trial in Superior Court for a 45-year-old Selbyville man. In August 2016, Roderick Mumford, who has had multiple prior drug trafficking convictions, was found in possession of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana after officers executed a search warrant at Mumford’s home in the Houston Acres neighborhood in Millsboro. The cocaine that was found during the execution of the search warrant was a Tier 5 amount of the drug. Mumford was convicted of Money Laundering, Tier 5 Possession (Cocaine), Tier 4 Drug Dealing (Cocaine) and Drug Dealing (Heroin) and he will be sentenced by a Superior Court judge in September.

Enforcement of Voter Intimidation Laws During 2016 Elections

With Delaware’s primary elections coming up in less than a month and the general election shortly thereafter, the Attorney General wishes to notify the public that the Delaware Department of Justice will be strictly enforcing the voter intimidation provisions of the Delaware Constitution. Those provisions make it a crime in Delaware for a person to “by force, threat, menace or intimidation, prevent or hinder, or attempt to prevent or hinder, any person…qualified to vote from voting according to said person’s choice at any such general, special or municipal election.”

The DOJ Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust has provided written guidance to the state Department of Elections that will be provided to poll workers that requests that any observed cases of voter intimidation be reported to the Office for investigation. The guidance states that “among the activities that have been identified by a federal court as potential election-day voter intimidation are the following: persons other than duly-appointed election officers questioning voters about their credentials; persons impeding or delaying voters by asking for identification, videotaping, photographing, or otherwise making visual records of voters or their vehicles; or persons distributing literature at the polls outlining the fact that voter fraud is a crime and/or detailing the legal penalties for impermissibly casting ballots.”

DOJ notes that the Delaware Code has detailed provisions, which are administered by elections officials, allowing each political party to ensure the absence of election day fraud by challenging the eligibility of persons to vote within polling places in a proper fashion. In the upcoming primary and general elections, no citizens should take it upon themselves to interfere with people attempting to vote, but should report any concerns to state or county election officials. The Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust will be prepared to respond on the primary and general election days to reports of possible voter intimidation.