Amid Dewey Beach Investigation, Shredded Documents Found - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Amid Dewey Beach Investigation, Shredded Documents Found

Posted: 08/25/2017 17:14:00 -04:00 Updated:

DEWEY BEACH, Del. - Shredded paper is raising concerns in the town of Dewey Beach.

Attorney Rick Cross represents the 18 complainants accusing Town Manager Marc Appelbaum of inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment and discrimination.  The town of Dewey Beach is currently conducting an independent investigation into the claims, and a Chancery Court lawsuit has been dropped for now as the investigation continues. The Delaware Public Integrity Commission is set to review the claims as well. 

Cross says that this week, he discovered a number of shredded Town Hall documents, something he claims violated a request by the Public Integrity Commission.

"From the beginning, we raised concerns with the town that evidence would be destroyed if Marc Appelbaum was allowed to remain in his office during the investigation. We received indications during the investigation that Mr. Applebaum was seen taking a large quantity of documents out of town hall at times," he says. "Now they violated the commission's document preservation letter. All of this goes to show that the commissioners made several lapses in judgment that up now led to tainting the investigation."

But Dewey Beach Mayor Dale Cooke and Town Solicitor Fred Townsend said no such violation took place.

Cooke says the destroyed documents were old materials cleared by the state for disposal, such as old bills and past agendas. He says the shredding happened when a town employee brought her ten-year-old son to work, and town employees allowed the child to shred the approved material to entertain him. Cooke says since then he's instructed his staff to stop disposing any paper.

"This is not the time that we should be destroying anything," he says. Cooke and Townsend say the town is committed to a full and fair investigation, and Cooke says Appelbaum wasn't involved in the shredding whatsoever. However Cross says the person who was--Assistant Town Manager Jim Dedes--is the point of contact between employees who filed the complaint and Appelbaum, so it doesn't sit well with him.  

"Jim Dedes admitted that he was aware of and approved of the shredding and destruction of evidence.  We now know that it included documents that were directly responsive to the investigations," he says. "This shows again that our concerns are not addressed. Mr. Dedes doesn’t seem to have any interest in the rights of the complaining employees."

Cooke and Townsend say there is no evidence that anything related to the investigations was in the shredded material, but Townsend says he welcomes Cross' claim.

"If Mr. Cross wants to put something in front of us, we would be happy to look at it," he says. "But until he does, I have no reason to believe [we violated the order]." 

Cooke says he would be incredibly disappointed if Cross' claim is true.

"If it was thrown away, shame on the person who threw it away," he says. "Because anything that could be related to the lawsuit should be kept."

Cross says the document he found is "directly related to the pending investigations and concerned Mr. Appelbaum improperly pressuring one of the police officers in the course of his job." 

The town has said they expect their investigation to conclude by the end of this month. 

 

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