Theopalis Gregory, former president of the Wilmington City Council, was convicted Monday of official misconduct.
Gregory had been indicted in September 2019 after getting $20,000 from a city grant application for a defunct organization he had founded.
Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a press released Monday that Deputy Attorney General David Skoranski of the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust had led the case that convicted Gregory.
The former politician, who served on the city council for three decades, will be sentenced by a Superior Court judge.
Official misconduct is a Class A misdemeanor. It carries a statutory sentence range of 0 to 1 years in prison and a presumptive sentence of up to 12 months Level I probation for first offenses.
“This conviction affirms that our state will not tolerate abusing public office and enriching oneself at the taxpayers’ expense,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Delawareans deserve integrity and, at the bare minimum, lawful behavior from their public officials … We put this case before the people, and the people spoke.”
Gregory was indicted in September 2019 after an investigation by the then-Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust found that he had used his position on City Council to secure a city grant that would enrich both himself and a non-profit that he founded.
In October 2016, Gregory revived Students Disabilities Advocates, Inc. (SDA), a private entity he controlled, which had been dormant for 18 years, according to the press release.
Shortly after the 2016 election, Gregory is alleged to have told successor Hanifa Shabazz, that $40,000 in City grant funds were earmarked for SDA. He repeatedly pressured Shabazz, while still in office, to grant the request after she was sworn in.
Because SDA lacked non-profit status at the time, Gregory is further alleged to have used the Police Athletic League of Wilmington (PAL-W) as a pass-through for the funds, the press release said.
After Gregory left office, PAL-W submitted a grant application, which was approved and signed by Shabazz in January 2017, requesting $40,000 for SDA as a pilot program.
The grant included in its budget a $20,000 payment to Gregory, who has said he received at least $15,000 personally.
Gregory also admitted to the Wilmington Ethics Commission in April 2019 that his actions violated the Wilmington City Code.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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