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Ex-employees call for Tyner’s removal after state confirms more allegations against him

A group of women suing Atlantic County’s prosecutor are seeking his removal after several allegations against his practices were sustained by an Attorney General’s Office investigation.
About a third of the 17 allegations made against Tyner and his office were found to have merit, including misdirecting forfeiture funds and potential retaliation against an employee who reported a concern to the attorney general.
Tyner also violated the county’s nepotism policy, the investigation found, despite the county spokeswoman previously telling BreakingAC that Tyner’s office was one of four that did not have to follow certain hiring practices.
The attorney general has removed other county prosecutors “for far less transgressions,” said former employees Diane Ruberton, Heather McManus and Donna Fetzer, who have a still-pending civil suit against their ex-boss.
Tyner was exonerated of witness tampering along with allegations of violations in the handling of the investigation and prosecution of defendants in the April Kauffman murder case.
The investigation had insufficient evidence as to whether Tyner gave 20/20 the suicide note written purportedly written by Kauffman’s widower and the man who allegedly planned her killing, Dr. James Kauffman.
The news comes just after the same Office of Public Integrity and Accountability’s Special Investigations Unit found that Tyner did not properly recuse himself in a case involving a victim that Tyner also represented at one point.
That case came up again in this determination, citing a “conflict involving a prominent minister’s relative.”
Anthony Hargrove, who has since been charged with failing to disclose his HIV status before having unprotected sex with two different men, is the son of a police chaplain who is bishop of Cathedral Grace Family Church in Atlantic City.
The bishop is a Tyner friend and political supporter. At least one of the men was infected.
Hargrove’s father is bishop of Cathedral Grace Family Church and a police chaplain.
“Information found during this investigation showed that Prosecutor Tyner had previous knowledge of (the victim) and used that knowledge in a manner that could be perceived to influence the assistant prosecutor,” the investigation found.
But it was another case in which Tyner failed to recuse himself that had the investigators forward information to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.
Tyner remained involved in an investigation into Dr. Kris Radcliff, who appeared before then-Judge Tyner in a domestic violence case in which his former wife was the victim.
Tyner then failed to recuse himself while his office investigated Radcliff for allegedly wire-tapping his ex-wife’s work laptop.
The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability investigation was sparked by the former employees who made the allegations in 2019, months after filing a civil lawsuit claiming Tyner created a culture of sexism and fear since taking over as Atlantic County’s prosecutor.
However, this investigation did not find sufficient evidence to prove or disprove gender discrimination. It also found that sexual harassment complaints were forwarded to the proper authority.
“It is disheartening that the Attorney General’s Office did not probe deeper into the other charges,” the women said in a statement. “However, the lawsuit … will bring to light all of the evidence regarding these other charges.”
The investigation also found that Tyner overseeing his brother, retired Atlantic City Police Detective Michael Graham, violated Atlantic County’s nepotism policy.
Tyner fired two investigators who each made $33,000 a year in order to hire Graham at a salary of $51,000, BreakingAC previously reported.
At that time, county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore said that the prosecutor is one of four constitutional offices — which includes the surrogate, county clerk and sheriff — that “act as independent agents in terms of hiring and firing.”
The findings also confirmed a BreakingAC investigative report that found Tyner apparently lied when he told a group of residents that he saw files NIM written on files containing homicide investigations involving mostly black residents in Atlantic City and Pleasantville.
He said he was then told NIM meant “Non-Important Murders.”
The investigation found that Tyner had made the comment that he had seen the files, “but had no firsthand knowledge that such files existed.”
The three former employees suing the prosecutor said in a written statement to BreakingAC that they “are concerned about these serious findings in that they reveal that Tyner has abused his authority and engaged in conduct impacting his credibility and veracity as noted by the Attorney General’s Office.”
“Most significantly, Tyner’s conduct has recklessly placed his personal gain over that of the safety and reputations of the Atlantic County law enforcement community and shamelessly caused victim survivors to believe their loved one’s death did not matter when he falsely reported to the public that the previous County Prosecutor’s administration labeled murders of victims who were African American as ‘Non-Important Murders,’” the women wrote.
The investigation also found that Tyner allowed First Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill to use a vehicle purchased with funds meant for victim counselors staff.
When the acting supervisor of the Victim Witness Unit asked the grant manager at the Attorney General’s Office to look into it, the officer directed Shill to return the vehicle to be used for purposes associated with victims.
Action was then taken against the employee, which “could be seen as retaliatory,” the investigation found.
She was not given the open position, which went to an outside candidate who became the unit’s first male member.
Tyner’s office did not return requests seeking comment.

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