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Former Atlantic County Prosecutor Tyner to join Vineland as municipal prosecutor

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The Atlantic County prosecutor who abruptly resigned his position amid growing allegations of misconduct is set to become a municipal prosecutor in Vineland.

Damon Tyner was the subject of at least two investigations by the Attorney General's Office and three civil lawsuits during his four-year tenure.

He resigned in July 2021, days after the attorneys in one of those lawsuits wrote a letter alleging the Attorney General’s Office was pushing for him to resign, but he refused.

“Thus, it is unlikely that Tyner will be reappointed as Prosecutor in March 2022, and has been on a public relations campaign to rehabilitate himself in order to secure future employment,” attorneys Michelle Douglas and Philip Burnham II wrote in the letter sent to an organization that was set to honor Tyner as Prosecutor of the Year.

It was unclear if that honor from the New Jersey Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association ever came to fruition. It is not listed under the "Professional Honors and Recognition" portion of Tyner's resume that is attached to the resolution to confirm his mayoral appointment before Vineland City Council.

Tyner resigned his seat months before he was scheduled to receive the award.

The issues he left behind did not end there.

Tyner's issues outlasted tenure

Tyner's office was supposed to transfer over all files in a case against the son of a man Tyner was friends with after the Attorney General's Office found it was a conflict.

Anthony Hargrove was accused of failing to disclose his HIV status to at least two men before having unprotected sex with them, infecting at least one.

Hargrove’s father, a bishop of Cathedral Grace Family Church and a police chaplain, is a friend and public supporter of Tyner’s.

While Tyner’s office insisted he notified the Attorney General’s Office of a conflict, it was actually the victim who pushed for the case to be moved out of Atlantic County, an investigation found.

His then-spokeswoman, Donna Weaver, also named the victim in emails to both BreakingAC and NJ.com, even though policy is to withhold the names of victims in both sexual offenses and domestic violence cases.

Cape May County was supposed to take over the case, but it seems that did not fully happen. While two instances of Hargrove violating a domestic violence restraining order the victim had remain active, court records show no trace of the previous criminal cases.

The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The first victim in that case filed a lawsuit against Tyner, Weaver and Cary Shill, who was Tyner's second in command and took over as acting prosecutor after the resignation.

The attorney in that case said she could not comment on its status, but it appears there may have been a settlement.

If so, it would be the last of three cases filed against Tyner as county prosecutor that ended in a payout.

Three women who alleged Tyner fostered a culture of sexism and fear settled in October 2021 for $1.5 million.

Another former assistant prosecutor, Matthew Davidson, settled for $230,000, after claiming Tyner harassed and then fired him for allegations he made of unethical practices.

Support continues

Tyner's resume lists three references, including Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small and Pleasantville Mayor Judy Ward.

Small told BreakingAC he did not receive any calls about Tyner, who did some contracted work for the city.

"He’s a highly qualified attorney whose work as an attorney speaks for itself," he said. "I'm happy he’s getting an opportunity."

Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci

Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci shared his decision for Tyner's appointment in a Feb. 6 letter to City Council, noting that such positions are appointed yearly. He did not respond to several requests for comment from BreakingAC.

Tyner already has a work history with Vineland. Last July, he was brought on as a legal adviser for the city's Cannabis Advisory Committee, under a prior resolution that ended Jan. 31. He was paid $165 per hour.

His new contact would run from Feb. 1 through Jan. 31 of next year, at an annual salary of $53,500.

Tyner would work under a newly appointed chief municipal prosecutor, who also resigned his county prosecutor's position without warning, and amid litigation.

Working under another ex-county prosecutor

Charles Fiore was Gloucester County's prosecutor until he resigned March 2020, saying in an email that his “very difficult decision” was made for family reasons and so he could seek “other ventures in the private sector,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported at the time.

The paper reported that the he sent the email to his office manager late morning, and it was effect at noon that day.

Days later, he was named in a lawsuit filed by a female detective in his office who claimed she was harassed by staff members, denied promotions and retaliated against for complaining about the behavior, NJ.com reported at the time.

The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office quietly settled that suit for $165,000 that December, Transparency NJ previously reported.

author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, May 19, 2024
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