(July 12, 2019) Former Pocomoke City Police Chief Kelvin Sewell was sentenced to three years of probation on Tuesday after being convicted, for the second time, of criminal misconduct while in office following a trial in Worcester County Circuit Court in May.
Judge W. Newton Jackson III sentenced Sewell to a term of three years’ incarceration, which he suspended in favor of three years of supervised probation.
In a statement following the sentencing, State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt applauded the decision.
“The verdict in this case upholds one of the most basic principles of American justice – that our laws be enforced without partiality or prejudice,” he said.
In May, Sewell was summoned back before a Worcester County jury to face charges of misconduct in office stemming from a vehicular collision in November 2014.
In December 2016, a jury convicted Sewell of misconduct in office, but cleared him of conspiracy charges, with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals granting the defense a second trial after an appeal to call expert witnesses.
This was the second trial for Sewell who appealed his 2016 conviction to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and was granted a re-trial for the opportunity to call an expert to testify in his defense.
On May 14, the jury, again, found Sewell guilty of a single count of misconduct in office.
In 2016, Sewell was also sentenced to three years in jail, which was suspended for probation prior to the eventual appeal.
Sewell served as Pocomoke Police Chief from 2011 until being relived of duties in June 2015 and was indicted in July 2016.
The charges stemmed from allegations that Sewell and former Pocomoke Police Lt. Lynell Green, who was also indicted on misconduct charges, intervened to curtail a hit-and-run investigation in November 2014 involving an acquaintance, Doug Matthews, who was a fellow member of the Masonic Lodge in Pocomoke.
Matthews, who was employed as a state correctional officer, reportedly fell asleep while returning home from the Pocomoke Union Lodge and struck two unoccupied parked cars.
According to Matthews, after the collision, he continued a short distance to his residence, despite losing a wheel in the crash, and opted to contact Green, who responded to the home and was later joined by Sewell.
During the 2016 trial, former Pocomoke Police Officer Tonya Barnes, who was the investigating officer, claimed Sewell interfered when she attempted to interview Matthews.
Barnes said Sewell instructed her to record the incident as an accident, not a hit-and-run, as the damaged vehicles were unoccupied, and no one was injured.
Prior to the misconduct trial, Sewell had filed a federal complaint of racial discrimination in March 2015 against the police department. In June, the complaint was amended to include the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
After the Pocomoke City Council fired Sewell as police chief on June 29, 2015, the EEOC complaint was amended to include wrongful termination.
In April 2016, the EEOC determined reasonable cause existed to accept that Sewell was “subjected to harassment in retaliation for protected activity[,]” and “discharged in retaliation for protected activity.”
Prior to Sewell’s misconduct trial in December 2016, he joined Green and another former Pocomoke City Police Officer Franklin Savage, in a lawsuit against the town, state and county for Title VII violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to which the U.S. Department of Justice also signed on.
In March, Pocomoke reached an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs.