Delaware Rep. Brady resignation announcement followed shoplifting accusations

State Rep. Gerald Brady smiles for a portrait

State Rep. Gerald Brady (D-Wilmington). (Delaware State Democrats)

When beleaguered state Rep. Gerald Brady abruptly announced Friday that he was resigning his House seat, he cited a diagnosis of PTSD from his tours in the Middle East with the Delaware National Guard.

The resignation had followed months of criticism and a House ethics investigation over racist, sexist comments Brady had made about Asians in an email over the summer.

What the 65-year-old Wilmington Democrat failed to mention was that he had been accused of stealing firewood and other items from an Acme supermarket in Newark’s Suburban Plaza on Jan. 12. Rumors about the incident surfaced almost simultaneously with Brady’s announcement but police said then and Monday that they had no warrants on file and could not confirm that Brady was under investigation.

That changed Tuesday when police announced Brady had been charged with two counts of misdemeanor shoplifting — for the Jan. 12 incident and another on Dec. 29.

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Police said Brady was observed on video taken Dec. 29 as he entered the store and left with merchandise valued at under $200 that he did not pay for. The incident was not reported to police, however.

When Brady arrived on Jan. 12, the Acme loss prevention manager recognized him from the previous incident and recorded the license plate of Brady’s vehicle, police said.

The manager then watched Brady “push a shopping cart full of merchandise past the registers and towards the exit of the store,’’ police said. The manager confronted Brady, who would not pay for the items, then left the store and entered the same vehicle. Again, the value was under $200, police said.

Police issued the warrant Tuesday and Brady turned himself in to police, where he was released on his own recognizance to appear at Newark’s Alderman’s Court at an undisclosed date.

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Brady’s arrest affidavit, obtained Tuesday from Alderman’s Court through a public records request, said Brady had firewood and other unspecified items that cost a total of $160.80 in the shopping cart when he was stopped when leaving the store on Jan. 12. He was offered the option to pay but declined and left the items with the manager, who watched him return to his gray Chevrolet Malibu with the House of Representatives license plate with his initials, GLB.  Brady was wearing a black coat, tie, mask and dark sunglasses and she recognized him from the previous incident.

The manager reviewed video from the December incident and saw that the same man had  walked inside with reusable bags, put items in them and took them to the same gray Malibu without paying. He then returned to the outside of the store and took an estimated nine bundles of firewood, which he did not pay for. The price for all those items was $174.26, the affidavit said.

Brady’s resignation announcement last week also did not mention the controversy over his email in his written resignation announcement. Instead he told the public for the first time about his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and added: “Personal and professional challenges or other traumatic events can exacerbate PTSD. Recognizing the severity of this situation, I am taking steps to address these issues directly.”

Brady, first elected in 2006, had previously said he was sorry for the slurs and would not seek re-election in November.

House of Representatives spokesman Drew Voltura would not comment on the lawmaker’s arrest Tuesday, instead referring questions to Brady’s attorney, Victoria Battaglia Jr.

“It’s a little premature for comment,” Battaglia said. “We just ask the public not to rush to judgment.” Asked if the shoplifting accusations were the reason Brady resigned, the lawyer said his client’s resignation “is a political decision, not a legal one.”

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