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High court overrules decision to bar former police chief from seat on Newport Town Council

Delaware Public Media

A former police chief convicted of misconduct will take office on Newport’s Town Council—after the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision. 

Former Newport Police Chief Michael Capriglione won a seat on Town Council this spring, but was barred from office when a Superior Court judge decided he was ineligible. 

That court determined a previous official misconduct conviction that ended Capriglione’s decades-old law enforcement career counts as an “infamous crime” and therefore prevents him from holding public office. 

Capriglione appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the ban in a one-page order last week. A more formal opinion, fully explaining the court’s views, will be issued later.

“If I’d have lost my case, from this point on any misdemeanor could have been construed an infamous crime and people could’ve been stopped from running for office for things they did maybe 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago,” said Capriglione. “This would’ve been a major nightmare.”

The state DOJ fought to keep Capriglione from taking office. 

In a statement, Attorney General Kathy Jennings said “Abusing public office ought to be at the top of the list of disqualifications from holding future office.” She said she was “disappointed” with the Supreme Court’s decision, and vowed to work with the state legislature to try to make official misconduct a felony charge.  

Capriglione pled guilty to charges of careless or inattentive driving and official misconduct in 2019. 

While Newport Chief of Police, he backed into another vehicle in the police department’s parking lot—then ordered the deletion of the surveillance video that showed it.

Capriglione touts the rest of his record as police chief which includes multiple awards. 

“I made one mistake, and if you’re going to hold somebody to one mistake it’s so unfair,” he said.            

The Supreme Court mandate says the record, briefs, and oral arguments of the case were considered on an expedited basis. It goes into effect immediately and allows Capriglione to take his oath of office. 

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