Former Delaware state trooper sentenced in theft scheme
DOVER, Del. (AP) — A former Delaware state trooper who pleaded guilty in connection with a series of thefts from a package reshipping company has been sentenced to six months in federal prison.
Jamal J. Merrell was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty in September to a misdemeanor count of deprivation of rights under color of law. The offense involves Merrell using his position as a law enforcement officer to deprive someone else of a right or privilege.
Merrell, 32,, was also ordered to pay restitution to Totaltranslogistics LLC.
Merrell faced a maximum sentence of one year in prison, which prosecutors sought, and a fine of up to $100,000.
“He stole and violated others’ civil rights in broad daylight. He sold stolen items from the trunk of his patrol vehicle,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum. “The defendant believed that his status as a police officer put him above the law. ”
Defense attorney Eugene Maurer Jr. asked for a sentence of six months of home confinement, noting Merrell’s background, community service and lack of a criminal record.
Merrell’s guilty plea came more than a year after investigators with the FBI and Delaware State Police interviewed him at his home in July 2021 and seized an iPhone, fearing that Merrell would delete evidence from it after he refused to give his consent for authorities to search it.
The investigation began after an official with Totaltranslogistics and his attorney went to the FBI office in Wilmington to report suspicious incidents over several months. TTL is an international reshipping company in New Castle that specializes in shipping packages to the country of Georgia. According to an FBI affidavit, the businessman lives in Georgia but traveled to the U.S. after learning of the incidents.
Employees reported that Merrell had visited the company at least 10 times beginning in February 2021, when he told employees that he was conducting an investigation and would need to inspect packages at the warehouse. He also insisted that he be left alone when conducting the inspections, according to the affidavit.
Employees reported that Merrell could be seen on surveillance footage removing items from large containers, putting them in a cart, then moving the cart to an area outside video surveillance coverage and near an exterior door.
A company official reported that he had received more than $20,000 in claims from customers for items missing from shipments or never delivered.
After learning that he might be the subject of an investigation, Merrell delivered several items to a state police facility in Newark, leaving them at the sally port instead of in the evidence locker. He also left an inventory of items he had seized, including laptop computers, cellphones and other items in their original packaging, according to investigators.
Asked by investigators whether he had sold any items he took, Merrell said he had been told by a company employee that a certain section of the warehouse had been designated for “trash.” Merrell told investigators he had taken about 100 iPhones from that area and sold them through Facebook.