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Atlantic County prosecutor failed to properly recuse himself in case, investigation finds

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The Atlantic County prosecutor failed to immediately recuse himself from a case in which there was a clear conflict, an investigation by the Attorney General's Office found.

Anthony Hargrove was arrested in May 2019, accused of knowingly infecting a man with HIV. The victim in that case alleged a conflict for Prosecutor Damon Tyner due to prior interaction, including the victim as a defendant in a case where he was later cleared.

That December, all cases involving the victim were transferred to Cape May County to avoid any conflict, an Attorney General's Office spokesman told BreakingAC.

But at the time, the Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman told BreakingAC that it was the prosecutor who asked the attorney general to step in to avoid any conflict.

The victim said that wasn't true.

On Monday, the victim's allegation was sustained.

An investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability's Special Investigations Unit "found that Prosecutor Tyner, who had previous association with (the victim), in some form, failed to immediately recuse himself from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office handling of (his) cases. Therefore this allegation is sustained," according to a letter written to the victim by office's director.

The office did not find sufficient evidence to suggest that Prosecutor Tyner acted on any real or perceived conflict involving members of the community in relation to those cases, however, the letter stated in not sustaining a second allegation.

There are still several pending allegations involving the victim, including that Tyner's office released his name when commenting that it would not be dealing with any cases involving him.

Normally, victims' names are not released in cases of a sexual nature.

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BreakingAC is not naming him due to that, along with HIPAA concerns.

The victim said Tyner continued to harass him after he filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in September 2019, and that Tyner even had a municipal police department issue a criminal charge against him on May 2, 2020, in retaliation. Those allegations are still pending.

Emails and audio recordings previously provided to this news site offer a timeline in the case and indicate the victim had numerous conversations with staff from the Attorney General's Office and Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office about his concerns.

In August, he sent a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office claiming that Tyner and Victim Witness Coordinator Raymond Royster should not be involved in the case due to a personal relationship with Hargrove’s family.

In it, he claimed that Hargrove “and his family continue to threaten to have their personal friend, Prosecutor Damon Tyner ‘get back at the victim and handle him.’”

The victim also notes that the Fellowship of Churches held a rally in January to support Tyner after three women who worked for him made allegations, including claims of mortgage fraud and sex discrimination.
The announcement of the “rally to support Prosecutor Tyner” was approved by the fellowship’s president, Anthony Hargrove's father, according to an email the fellowship’s secretary sent to its members.

It was not immediately clear where Anthony Hargrove's case now stands. Charges had included a second victim and four other defendants.




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