Former and current employees ask for investigation of Atlantic County prosecutor

Days after the Atlantic County prosecutor celebrated one of the biggest wins of his career with a conviction in the April Kauffman murder, he is now under attack for allegedly violating ethics in that case.
Two former and one current employee of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office have asked for an investigation of Prosecutor Damon Tyner, alleging mortgage fraud that may have helped pay off debts from his failed political campaigns, unethical hiring of unqualified relatives and several ethics breaches in the Kauffman case, including not properly disclosing information to the defense.
But Tyner said the accusations are merely “personnel issues with disgruntled former employees and current employee.”
“As a result I have retained legal counsel to respond to these matters,” he said in a statement. “The great work of the women and men of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office will continue unimpaired under my leadership.”
The  21-page letter signed by one-time acting Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, retired Lt. Heather McManus and current Assistant Prosecutor Donna Fetzer was sent to the U.S. attorney and state attorney general on Thursday, two days after a jury convicted Ferdinand Augello of murder, racketeering and attempted murder after less than two hours of deliberations.
But Tyner allegedly got a conviction with major help from the FBI, and by refusing “to conduct internal affairs investigations into the activities of certain detectives so as not to cloud the Kauffman prosecution.”
The letter also calls into question Tyner’s appearance in a 20/20 special on the case.
The “unethical media contact” was “to further his other political career-oriented aspirations at the risk of damaging the ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution of criminal defendants in the Kauffman murder trial,” the complaint alleges.
“These are serious allegations, which go to the heart of a fair trial,” Augello’s defense attorney Mary Linehan told BreakingAC on Monday. “I will review the information available and undertake investigation (Tuesday).”
A motion for a new trial has already been filed, she said. That will be heard in December.
Augello himself has long made allegations against the prosecution in social media posts through an intermediary.
He was stopped from posting about the case before trial due to a gag order requested by the prosecution that was made after the 20/20 special aired.
“We understand that you have become acquainted with Prosecutor Tyner and perhaps developed a friendship,” the women wrote in the letter. “Nonetheless, we formally request an investigation into conduct and practices that we believe in good faith, to be violative of the laws.”
They also allege that Tyner committed mortgage fraud involving the sale of his home, and that it “was the subject of an FBI investigation and still may be ongoing.”
Foreclosure was filed on Tyner’s home the day before he was sworn into office on March 15, 2017.
The letter questions why “such serious financial difficulties” would have been overlooked, and suggests that the background check done on Tyner may have been relaxed since he was a sitting Superior Court judge at the time he was being vetted.
The alleged criminal investigation, however, relates to an accusation of mortgage fraud.
Tyner and his wife, Nicole Milan-Tyner, bought the home around late 2003 or early 2004 for $275,000. In March 2006, Tyner’s father-in-law — Herbert Milan — bought the home for $425,000, even though it never had a market value greater than $280,000, the letter alleges. Milan sold the house back to his daughter and son-in-law six months later for $1.
This move allegedly “allowed (Tyner) to pay off the first mortgage and secure a second mortgage at double the value of the home in order to, essentially secure a low interest loan to, it is believed, pay off a political campaign debt,” the letter says.
“Our office previously prosecuted a very similar case to that of Tyner’s case,” the women wrote, referring to Betsy Borges.
She was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in April.
“We tried to bring these issues to the attention to Tyner and give him an opportunity to help us and correct the situation,” the three state. “Unfortunately, Tyner chose to react with anger and revenge — he fired Diane Ruberton. Tyner has also threatened to fire McManus and Fetzer.”

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