Charges Dropped Against Officers Accused of Stealing from Sussex - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Charges Dropped Against Officers Accused of Stealing from Sussex American Legion

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Samuel Mauger and James Gallagher Samuel Mauger and James Gallagher
Edward Mazewski, Michael Rooney and Charles Nimmerichter Edward Mazewski, Michael Rooney and Charles Nimmerichter

OAK ORCHARD, Del. - Weeks after five leaders of Post 28 of the American Legion in Oak Orchard were arrested, their embezzlement charges have been dropped by authorities. The Division of Gaming Enforcement said that the charges are not necessarily gone for good, as new charges are possible in the future.

"Due to information discovered after the time of arrest that requires additional investigation," said Carl Kanefsky from the Department of Justice. "Charges have been dismissed against four individuals... and are expected to be dismissed against the fifth."

The officers who have had their charges dropped already are Ed Mazewski, Samuel Mauger, James Gallagher and Michael Rooney. Meanwhile, Charles Nimmerichter is still facing charges, although they are expected to be dropped next week, according to Kanefsky. 

The officers were arrested on April 7th, following a three months-long investigation. At the time of their arrest, the DGE said that the officers were cashing checks from the legion, and then keeping the money.  At the time, they were accused of stealing more than $641,000 from the post. One other former officer was also accused of stealing over $218,000 in funds, although this officer had already passed away. 

The state has not released what the "new information" was, which lead to the dropping of the charges. However Wendy Hudson for DGE said that this is not an "exoneration." She said that the case simply needed more investigation to decide on the new charges. 

"New information appeared after the fact..." she said. "Basically it turned out to be more complicated than they thought." 

The charges were dropped "without prejudice," according to Kanefsky. This means that the suspects can be retried with the same charges in the future, if the state wishes to do so.

Accused Speaking Out

WBOC spoke with both Michael Rooney and James Gallagher about the accusation. They Both vehemently denied any wrong-doing, and said that all of the cash that was presumed stolen was actually brought to the post to fill up the ATM machine. This ATM, which is owned by the post, is filled up by staff members. 

"This is the most heartbreaking and demoralizing thing that's ever happened to me," said Gallagher, who was also the acting commander of the state American Legion."

Gallagher said that all cash he collected from the bank was delivered the finance office. He said that "the office" actually filled up the ATM. 

"Believe me when I say I got the money in good faith," he said. "To fill the ATM. I would never take that money." 

Meanwhile Rooney said that some of the accused have lost their jobs, due to the arrests.

"The investigation was done pretty poorly..." he said. "They should have done their due diligence." 

Initial Accusations:

  • James Gallagher, 65, of Millsboro, charged with two counts of felony theft over $1,500; $13,000 total
  • Edward Mazewski, 69, of Millsboro, charged with two counts of felony theft over $1,500; $20,000 total
  • Michael Rooney, 66, of Georgetown, Del., charged with two counts of felony theft over $1,500; $13,000 total
  • Charles Nimmericher, 53, of Millsboro, charged with misdemeanor theft under 1,500; $400 total
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