Two former elected officials indicted in Delaware on corruption charges

Bill Freeborn (third from left) observes as Mayor Mike Purzycki talks about a Land Project in Wilmington in 2019. (City of Wilmington)

Bill Freeborn (third from left) observes as Mayor Mike Purzycki talks about a Land Project in Wilmington in 2019. (City of Wilmington)

Two former elected officials in Delaware — ex-Wilmington Councilman Bill Freeborn and ex-state Rep. Rebecca Walker — face public corruption charges after being indicted Tuesday.

Freeborn was executive director of the public-private Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank for more than a year until leaving the agency in August. He is accused of accepting at least $28,000 in unauthorized cash deposits from potential buyers for properties the Land Bank did not own.

Mat Marshall of the Attorney General’s Office said prosecutors could not be specific about what Freeborn did with the unauthorized money. Marshall said the Land Bank does not accept cash from potential buyers and noted that the investigation is ongoing.

Freeborn faces two felony counts — theft by false promise, and misapplication of property — as well as a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

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Freeborn is a prominent Republican insider who was on City Council from 1993 to 1996 and later was assistant secretary of state and director of the Delaware Division of Corporations. He once held a fundraiser at his Greenville home for then-president George H.W. Bush.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Freeborn said he could not comment “at this time.”

Officials at the city of Wilmington, which provides staff support and other resources to the Land Bank, did not respond to a request for comment about the charges against Freeborn.

The Attorney General Office’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust (DCRPT), which is prosecuting the case, is urging “anyone who knows of illegal transactions solicited by Freeborn, or anyone else misrepresenting the Land Bank,” to contact them at (302) 577-5400 or publictrust@delaware.gov.

In the other case, Walker is charged with misdemeanor official misconduct, falsifying business records, and offering a false instrument in her former role as deputy director of the state Division of Forensic Sciences.

The indictment alleges that Walker falsified records of several employees under her supervision, claiming they passed alcohol tests they never received between May 2015 and February 2020. She faces up two years in prison if convicted.

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Walker is now employed as director of nursing for the state Department of Health and Social Services. She was suspended with pay on Tuesday, agency communications director Jill Fredel told WHYY News.

Walker, a Democrat, served two two-year terms as state representative before taking her job at the Division of Forensic Sciences.

Attempts to reach Walker were unsuccessful.

Prosecutors said the Land Bank and the Division of Forensic Sciences alerted them independently after discovering the alleged improprieties.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a statement that her office “cannot and will not tolerate violations of the public trust.”

She added that “nobody should be beneath justice, and nobody – no matter their title – should be above the law.”

Jennings said complaints and tips about public corruption can be submitted online at https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/publictrust/complaint-form/.

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