Wednesday, October 5, 2022

In-depth investigation: Despite false testimony, sex offender walked free in child pornography plea deal

Justin Brochure (center) appears in a local news interview in Indiana with his girlfriend, Julie Dosher (right) after Hurricane Florence in September 2018. In November 2018, Brochure presented Dosher's testimony before Brunswick County District Court Judge Ashley Gore, in which Dosher claimed Brochure never had contact with her minor children. (Port City Daily screenshot/Courtesy Wane.com)
Justin Brochure (center) appears in a local news interview in Indiana with his girlfriend, Julie Dosher (right) after Hurricane Florence in September 2018. In November 2018, Brochure presented Dosher’s testimony before Brunswick County District Court Judge Ashley Gore, in which Dosher claimed Brochure never had contact with her minor children. Brochure had been bailed out of jail on child pornography charges and was under court order to not have contact with minor children.  (Port City Daily screenshot/Courtesy WANE 15 News)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Now-convicted sex offender and child pornography collector Justin Brochure demonstrated what a prosecutor called “complete disregard” for a court order and presented false testimony through his counsel in pretrial hearings. At his sentencing, Brochure accepted a state plea deal that allowed him to walk free within hours.

At an early bond hearing in the case, Brochure’s girlfriend, Julie Dosher, told Brunswick County District Court Judge Ashley Gore that he had not been in contact with her minor children. After hearing Dosher’s testimony, Judge Gore lowered his bond fortyfold.

But Brochure had been in contact with the children. In fact, Dosher and her two children appeared on a local news broadcast in another state just two months prior, with Justin Brochure playing the role as their guardian.

Neither Brochure nor Dosher has been charged with perjury. Neither has been charged with obstruction of justice. Despite the news segment, photographic evidence, and multiple witness statements contradicting Dosher’s sworn testimony, the state says it still doesn’t have enough evidence to attempt to hold either accountable for presenting false information to a judge.

Setting aside the potential criminal repercussions for these charges, and Dosher’s testimony, a further issue is that Brochure’s pretrial violations and presentation of false information via his counsel were not factored into his plea agreement. And to the state, these factors don’t always matter at sentencing.

A review of the criminal case investigated by the Oak Island Police Department into the son of the town’s mayor reveals a judicial process with wiggle room — cracks in the system.

These cracks leave open the potential to confuse or obscure basic facts without consequence — even when it concerns the well-being of children.

The case

In May 2017, federal agents walked out of a single-family Oak Island home on Womble Street with laptops, a phone, a desktop computer, and other electronic devices. A known image originating from a peer-to-peer child pornography sharing network was duplicated the month prior, pinging U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents to an IP address tied to a cable account at the house.

Trained forensic analysts identified 112 sexually exploitative images and three videos of children from these devices. One year and one month later, Oak Island Police Department filed multiple charges against Brochure. By that point, Brochure had moved to a Leland apartment, where he was arrested by Leland Police Department officers after being charged with 31 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor on June 28.

He was first held on a $1 million secured bond, reduced the next day to $100,000. Four days later, he posted bail. As part of a pretrial release agreement, Brochure was prohibited from having contact with minors.

However, it is now clear that Brochure did have contact with minors, violating that agreement.

In fact, after his early July release, at least two minor children lived with him at his Leland apartment, according to photographic evidence and multiple witness statements — including statements from the grandmother of the children — provided to the Oak Island Police Department.

Brochure and his girlfriend, Dosher, appeared on a local news video in Garrett, Indiana with her children in late September 2018. The couple told a WANE 15 News reporter they both lost their jobs due to Hurricane Florence. After evacuating, the family was staying in a camper together owned by Dosher’s sister. The WANE 15 News segment even shared a link to a GoFundMe page set up for Dosher.

Tony Sandleben, the WANE 15 News reporter who met with the family, told Port City Daily he sensed nothing out of the ordinary at the interview. “They struck me as a family in a time of crisis trying to get by,” Sandleben said.

Brochure appeared to be the children’s father-figure, Sandelben said. “He acted like they were his kids. He certainly was acting as their caretaker or guardian.”

The next month, Brochure was arrested, again. This time, he was charged with 11 counts of violating the pretrial release agreement and held under a $2 million secured bond. At a bond hearing in Brunswick County District Court in October of 2018, Brochure’s defense attorney presented Dosher as a witness. Dosher testified before Judge Ashley Gore that Brochure had not been in contact with her children. She testified her children would stay part-time with her friend — a man whose address she did not know but said lived nearby — when she would stay with Brochure.

Based on this testimony, Judge Gore lowered Brochure’s bond from $2 million to $50,000. Brochure posted bail less than a week later.

Brochure’s mother, Oak Island Mayor Cin Brochure, leveraged her Oak Island property as collateral for her son’s release, Brunswick County Register of Deeds records show. Two Deeds of Trust, one for $50,000 and one for $100,000, are tied to Cin Brochure’s property on 68th Street in Oak Island. Justin Brochure is listed as the beneficiary on both.

The Womble Street property where federal agents seized property in May 2017 is also linked to Mayor Brochure. A 2015 general warranty deed shows Cynthia Brochure’s mailing address at the property; 2018 Brunswick County Real Estate Tax records show the same.

Fast-forward to May.

Despite repeated violations of a court order and presenting, through his counsel, false sworn testimony about the violations, Brochure entered into a ‘no contest’ plea deal with the state that allowed him to avoid directly admitting guilt. He walked free hours later.

Absent explicit mention of Brochure’s false testimony, Superior Court Judge Frank Jones accepted the deal, which allowed Brochure no jail time (excluding some time already served) and no satellite-based monitoring (the court accepts or rejects a plea agreement — the court does not negotiate).

Brochure’s first registered property to appear on the National Sex Offender Registry is owned by his parents in Oak Island.

Ten years vs. zero

Every criminal case is different. Still, for comparison, this week Brunswick County’s District Attorneys Office announced in a press release a significantly stronger punishment for similar — even less serious — charges.

On Tuesday, 27-year-old Brenan West was sentenced to serve at least 10 years in prison. West pleaded guilty to 20 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. An investigation uncovered 79 child pornography images in West’s possession.

By contrast, Brochure pleaded “no contest” to 31 counts of second-degree and 31 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor (second-degree means duplicating or exchanging child pornography, third-degree means possessing the material).

Aside from the 203 days he spent in jail awaiting trial, Brochure spent no time in custody after accepting the state’s plea deal. His sentence — three consecutive terms each carrying a minimum of two years to a maximum of 7.5 years in prison — was suspended.

This means so long as Brochure abides by requirements included in the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry, completes a sex offender treatment program and does not violate the court’s orders, he won’t serve any more time. He is prohibited from having contact with minors but may contact his own biological children.

Here’s where the West and Brochure case diverge: An undercover agent received communications from West, “bragging about wanting to do sexual things” to a 10-year-old child, according to Assistant District Attorney Jason Minnicozzi, who prosecuted both cases. 

The comments were in reference to a photo of a child sitting on West’s lap, which West took and shared with the undercover agent. A local advocacy center interviewed the child, who did not disclose any instances of inappropriate behavior with West. The state did not bring forth sexual abuse charges against West because it could not find evidence he acted on his communicated illegal intentions. 

When you compare that and contrast that with Mr. Brochure, there were no credible allegations that he had touched any children whatsoever,” Minnicozzi said in an interview Thursday. “So I think it is fair to compare and contrast and that’s why their sentences are so drastically different.”

There are two kinds of child pornography collectors, according to Minnicozzi.

“There’s some that collect it, observe it, and that’s all they do. It’s illegal. If they’re a record level one they are entitled to probation. It’s not mandatory but they’re entitled to it,” he said.

A record level one offender in North Carolina has either no prior convictions or just one misdemeanor. Both West and Brochure were record level one defendants before their sexual exploitation charges. 

“For those who do child pornography, what I call, ‘plus,’ that they are either advocating or researching or communicating a desire to hurt children or have the opportunity and it looks like they’ve done something — whether we can prove it or not — those are the types of cases I want to make sure get a lengthy active sentence because that’s the only way we can protect the community,” Minnicozzi said.

West obtained child pornography on the dark web; Brochure did not use covert software or applications to access it. Accounting for dark web activity, and communicated – but not acted upon – illegal desires West received 10 years while Brochure received no time at all.

“In my opinion, Mr. West’s behavior was far more egregious,” Minnicozzi said. “So you couple dark web activity with potential child actual physical victims, it’s a no-brainer.”

Assistant District Attorney Jason Minnicozzi (left) presents the state's plea deal to Superior Court Judge Frank Jones on May 1 to end the criminal case against Justin Brochure. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Assistant District Attorney Jason Minnicozzi (left) presents the state’s plea deal to Superior Court Judge Frank Jones on May 1 to end the criminal case against Justin Brochure. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

‘Our hands are tied’

Minnicozzi said he had a limited ability to factor in Brochure’s pretrial contact with minors or his presentation through his attorney of false information when crafting the state’s plea agreement. In recent years, Minnicozzi said he has not obtained a perjury conviction absent a confession.

“It’s hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone lied,” Minnicozzi said. “This happens pretty frequently. It’s not that it doesn’t bother me. There isn’t a lot that I can do to combat that. It is probably the hardest type of case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone lied.”

Minnizcozzi added, “There’s not a lot I can do to make — or remedy witnesses who provide inaccurate information or untruthful information at bond hearings.”

Also, Brochure did not personally tell a judge he hadn’t been around children. His attorney and his girlfriend did — on his behalf. This critical distinction creates reasonable doubt, removing the state’s ability to seriously consider pursuing these charges.

So, what recourse is there other than to attempt to charge someone with perjury or obstruction of justice? What system of accountability is in place for interfering with the public process of vetting out alleged criminal activity?

“I think that would be a good question for one of the judicial officials on how they deal with it. If the DA’s office brings it to a judge’s attention — that’s up to them to deal with. When [false information] is offered at bond hearings, it’s up to the judge to determine the veracity or the truthfulness and then whether — if they’re not being truthful, what they can do to that person. It would be up to the judicial official hearing that testimony. If they believe to choose all, some, or none of that testimony, and if they believe that person was being untruthful, what would happen?” Minnicozzi said.

“Because our hands are tied. Like I said, it’s difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person lied. [The] judge knows, the witnesses know, but how can you prove it? It’s one of those — everybody is in agreement. It might not be truthful, but when it’s clear as day, everyone kind of knows, ok, that’s probably not true. But proof beyond a reasonable doubt is much more difficult. So bringing charges is not always the best remedy. Very rarely is it a good remedy,” he added.

Unlike the West case, law enforcement officials did not receive credible evidence Brochure sexually or physically abused any child. When children are abused, typically, there’s a delayed disclosure period, Minnicozzi said. If a defendant is in custody for a period of four to eight months, he said, a child may be more likely to tell an adult what happened.

“That’s why I insisted that he go back in custody. That’s why I went to the great lengths to make sure that his bond was resecured,” Minnicozzi said.

Sentencing

Generally, child pornography sentences are stronger when charged federally.

A review of press releases shared by the U.S. Attorney Eastern District of North Carolina’s office since last year shows federal prosecutors appear not to pursue child pornography cases with fewer than 1,000 illegal files discovered. However, it’s important to note press releases are selective, meaning details of every case closed in the eastern district are not made readily available in the same manner.

Similar convictions reviewed include possessing and downloading child pornography — not manufacturing it — and cases where prior convictions are not listed. In these cases, sentences range based on the amount of material seized, from 18 years in prison for Ricardo Bennett, a Wilmington man who possessed over 1,000 images, to 12 years for Stephen Batts, a Raleigh man who possessed nearly 40,000 child pornography images and nearly 1,000 videos.

Evidence and information obtained after the Womble Street search did not meet the federal prosecution threshold, Minnicozzi said at a November 2018 hearing in the Brochure case. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney Eastern District of North Carolina said the office does not comment on prosecutorial discretion decisions.

Damon Chetson, Brochure’s defense attorney, described his client’s sentence as “harsh” at the May hearing. After the hearing, Chetson declined to comment on the record.

Asked if he could see how a witness or member of the community may be concerned with the facts in Brochure’s case, Minnicozzi provided the following reflections:

“[District Attorney] Jon [David] has empowered each of his assistant district attorneys including myself to do the right thing and to advocate for justice in all of the matters that we prosecute. I felt like given all of the information that I have in Mr. Brochure’s case, that that was a reasonable outcome, given all of the factors I considered. All of the information that was provided to me. And I would equally say the same thing about Mr. West’s case. That based on all of the information that I had, and in every case, it’s the value of the case, the charges, the record, the quality of the investigation, the willingness of witnesses, the availability of witnesses, all of that comes into play,” Minnicozzi said.

And so, to answer your question, I can understand that, but every single case is drastically different. There’s no case that’s the same. So everybody has to be treated as an individual basis,” he added. “The sentencing guidelines try to make things more uniform. But the reality is that this couldn’t be something further from the truth. Every case is so drastically different. And you know, the witnesses, in those two cases, the quality of the evidence, in those two cases were drastically different.”

Minicozzi agreed it’s not as simple as the number of images obtained in an investigation.

“That I understand can be frustrating from, you know, a person in the community not knowing all of those details. They’re not privy to all of that information. All they see is a blurb and a picture. And I get that. What we ask for is to have confidence in our office and our law enforcement partners to do the right thing and to pursue justice in every case. It means different things in different circumstances,” he said.

Homeland Security and Oak Island PD investigation

Oak Island Police Department detective Kristy Cox DeMello lead the local investigation into Brochure’s criminal activity.

DeMello first became aware of the investigation after being partnered with Homeland Security Special Agent Addy Penninman, according to a Feb. 22, 2017, Oak Island incident report.

Reached by phone, Penniman said she could not comment on the case. Carissa Cutrell, a spokesperson for the department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, said agents use a variety of tactics to tie illegal material to an individual in these cases. Speaking generally about sexual exploitation cases, Cutrell said sometimes, an individual confesses, and other times, the material is discovered on a personal device belonging to a specific person within a home.

“They wouldn’t be charging someone unless they were confident that person committed those crimes,” Cutrell said. In Brochure’s case, one year and five months elapsed between Homeland Security first tagging the Womble Street IP address and Brochure being taken into custody.

Why did it take so long?

“Our agents/analysts must conduct computer forensics on all digital evidence tied to an investigation,” Cutrell wrote in an email. “This often takes time to complete.” A Freedom of Information Act request for the Homeland Security search warrants used to seize material in May 2017 at the Womble Street home has not yet been fulfilled.

It was not easy to obtain the February 2017 incident report.

A records clerk at Oak Island Police Department told Port City Daily she did not have access to the incident report, despite it being a public document. After several attempts to obtain the report, the town’s attorney, Edes, said he would share it but planned to redact the street number from the incident report, citing he did not want to compromise the District Attorney’s case or the rights of the accused.

Asked whether he had the legal right to redact the location of a criminal event from a public document (deemed a public record under §132-1.4 (c)(1)) Edes said he would defend his decision in court. Edes shared the report, but with the street number redacting, stating Womble Street would suffice under the legal definition of “location.”

Port City Daily contacted the Attorney General’s office to submit a complaint against Edes for failing to comply with a public records request. Later, Edes submitted the unredacted incident report.

A public record redacted by Oak Island Brian Edes to remove the street number of the location of the crime. The redacted address is the mailing address of Oak Island Mayor Cynthia Brochure. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Oak Island)
A public record redacted by Oak Island Brian Edes to remove the street number of the location of the crime. The redacted address is the mailing address of Oak Island Mayor Cynthia Brochure. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Oak Island)

Oak Island Police Department

In February, DeMello was transferred from serving as a detective to serve in a newly-renewed position as Oak Island’s Community Resource Officer in February after internally applying for the job, according to the town’s attorney.

Asked if she was comfortable with the outcome of the case, DeMello said: “I’m not interested in commenting on that. Because it doesn’t matter what I’m comfortable with. It was put into the hands of the court system and that’s what I have to — that’s what I have to live with every day. My personal interest aside, it was up to the court system.”

Neither the town nor the police department ever released any public statements to help clear up concerns regarding the potential conflict of interest Mayor Brochure’s position presented to Oak Island Police Department’s case.

A public records request for emails sent between and among town staff and police department officials including the words “Justin” or “Brochure” between June 1, 2018, and after his re-arrest on October 17, 2018, turned up just two results. Both referenced the literal use of the term brochure, in a pamphlet titled, “Golf Carts Dos and Don’ts.”

Officer DeMello did not respond to questions regarding whether the mayor’s relationship to the criminal defendant she was investigating had any impact on her case.

“I don’t see how rehashing all of this is pertinent to anything. I mean, this case is over and done with. And I mean you no disrespect, but, I don’t see how rehashing any of this is pertinent or beneficial to anyone involved in this case. So I decline to answer any of those questions,” DeMello said.

At Brochure’s May hearing, Minnicozzi told Judge Jones that Southport had concerns that Mayor Brochure’s position “might sway law enforcement from taking action or not taking action.” (Minnicozzi clarified after the hearing he was referring to the Southport Police Department — not the city. Later that month, Southport Manager Bruce Oakley stated in an email that neither he nor Chief Todd Coring were aware of anyone “ever raising or even expressing a concern about this issue.”)

Mayor Brochure’s position did not concern officer DeMello, Minnicozzi told Judge Jones in May. “It didn’t seem to me that when I spoke with the charging officer [Kristy] DeMello that she had any concern about her action in this case,” he said.

Complications

Brochure’s June 2018 arrest was not widely circulated. WECT first reported on the arrest — the body of the article included mention of Brochure’s mother’s role as mayor but the headline did not. After Brochure was re-arrested in October 2018, multiple news outlets took notice; comments flew on Facebook.

Former Oak Island Police Chief Greg Jordan resigned two days after Brochure’s re-arrest, offering no explanation. His second-in-command, former Assistant Chief Tony Burke, resigned one week later. Again, no resignation reflections were shared and the town did not respond to multiple media requests to comment.

By late October 2018, the town broke its silence through its attorney, Brian Edes.  “Their resignations — from the town’s perspective, their separation of employment had nothing to do with any criminal investigation or any disciplinary investigations,” Edes said at the time.

The town appointed Wilburn Ingram, III as interim chief, and later, as permanent Police Chief to fill former Chief Jordan’s vacancy. At 72, Chief Ingram had spent the previous few years working at the Oak Island Golf Course. Ingram was first hired in 2002 as Oak Island’s Police Chief, four years after resigning as Kinston Police Department’s Deputy Chief amid allegations brought forth by a fellow police officer.

All but one of Oak Island’s current councilmembers refused to answer questions about Ingram’s appointment. He was named in a 1998 federal complaint, according to the Kinston Free Press, that alleged he raped and harassed a fellow policewoman.

To date, Mayor Cin Brochure has never publicly addressed her son’s arrest.

She filed to be elected to a second term in July 2017, two months after Homeland Security walked out of her Oak Island mailing address on Womble Street with seized electronic equipment. This month, Mayor Brochure filed to run for a third term.

‘Complete disregard for a court order’

In November 2018, Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney filed a motion to modify Justin Brochure's bond after an Oak Island Police Department Investigation found evidence Brochure presented under sworn testimony was "untruthful and/or inaccurate." (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
In November 2018, Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney filed a motion to modify Justin Brochure’s bond after an Oak Island Police Department Investigation found evidence Brochure presented under sworn testimony was “untruthful and/or inaccurate.” (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

In November 2018, Minnicozzi attempted to get Brochure’s bond raised after it was lowered based on Dosher’s testimony. He filed a motion to modify Brochure’s bond on Nov. 6; a hearing was held on Nov. 14.

Dosher, under sworn testimony presented by Brochure, testified her Boyfriend had not been in contact with her children.

“Subsequent to [the October] hearing I spoke with the detective to confirm because, to me, I thought that we had a major problem, either we had some child or children witnesses who were presenting false information to law enforcement or some sort of obstruction of justice or perjury committed by Ms. Dosher, and so I asked the detective to further investigate,” Minicozzi told Judge Kent Harrell, according to certified court transcript obtained by Port City Daily.

“[Officer DeMello] spoke with the children’s grandmother and got some photographic evidence showing that these children were living in this home over periods of several days, that those children both confirming that the defendant was around them, not just supervised, but in unsupervised fashions,” Minicozzi said at the November hearing.

Minnocizzi presented information from DeMello’s investigation citing three to four witness interviews, describing Brochure as having “complete disregard for a court order.”

“And for those reasons, the complete disregard for a court order and then the length at which to try to persuade a court in District Court that that [is] just simply not the case gives me some grave concern about the safety of not just those specific children, but the community at large,” Minnicozzi argued.

“The State has some grave concerns about the lengths that this defendant will go to perpetrating potentially a fraud to the court in District Court about his whereabouts vis-à-vis these children,” he said.

Chetson, Brochure’s defense attorney, said both Brochure and Dosher assured him they had carefully abided by the court’s instructions.

“Certainly when I tell a witness to testify, it’s to testify truthfully to a court and I’m sure Mr. Minnicozzi is not saying that I have told them to say anything other than the truth to the Court, but she did testify in front of Judge Gore that my client did not have contact with her children,” Chetson said at the November 2018 hearing.

Judge Harrell did not side with Minnicozzi’s request to raise Brochure’s bond.

Attempts to reach Dosher via certified mail to her registered voting address and by phone at her cell phone number were unsuccessful.

The video

On May 1, Minnicozzi summarized the state’s criminal case against Justin Brochure before Judge Jones. At the hearing, Minnicozzi told Judge Jones there were concerns early on in the case that after he posted bail and was awaiting trial, Brochure may have been living with children that were not his own. Though he acknowledged the information was alarming, he also presented it as not fully vetted out.

“A lot of that conflicting information never got flushed out,” Minnicozzi said at the hearing.

Minnicozzi did not explain to Judge Jones at the May hearing that testimony presented by Brochure in October 2018 was false.

“Since he’s been in custody, for six months or so, I am persuaded that that offers an opportunity for any child to come forward to disclose any concerns,” Minnicozzi told Judge Jones.

In the courtroom after the hearing in an interview, Minnicozzi said he was not familiar with the WANE 15 News video featuring Brochure, Dosher, and her two children living together in a camper. A reporter had previously emailed him a link to the video, and according to emails obtained by Port City Daily, Officer DeMello said she added it to the information packet for the District Attorneys Office and “pulled specific clips out for them to view.”

When a reporter explained the contents of the video to Minnicozzi after the May hearing, he said, “It wouldn’t change my mind at all.”

His reasoning includes tiers of child pornography offenders — reasoning he made a point to share with Judge Jones at the May hearing and in an interview again this week.

The case ranks on the lower end of the spectrum of childhood exploitation cases, he said. The state did not and does not believe Brochure to be a physical threat to children,

A witness

Laura Dutterer is moving furniture out of her Oak Island home this week.

Dutterer won’t miss Oak Island’s “small-town politics,” she said.

“It’s just like the land of secrets. People get more sentences on a pot conviction than a child pornographer,” Dutterer said.

Dutterer and her son, a minor, served as witnesses in the case. Her son personally witnessed Brochure’s pretrial living arrangement with the children and spent time unsupervised in his presence, according to his witness statement reviewed by Port City Daily and provided to Officer DeMello.

The case is one factor of many that motivated the family to relocate.

“I tried to respect and let the law handle the situation,” Dutterer said. “And of course, as far as I’m concerned, of course, it failed. But that’s only my opinion.”

Dutterer provided photos her son had to Officer DeMello, emails show. The images showed children living at Brochure’s Leland apartment after being released in July. After Dosher presented false testimony in November 2018, Officer DeMello reached out to Dutterer, Dutterer said, asking for details and documentation.

“‘I need everything you got as specific as you got it,'” Dutterer recalls Officer DeMello saying.

Dutterer found the WANE 15 News report and emailed it to Officer DeMello in December 2018. “You asked me for proof he was in the company of minors,” Dutterer said referencing DeMello’s apparent request. “This is proof that made the news.”

After Dutterer pointed out the date in the video, which clearly demonstrates a violation of Brochure’s pretrial release agreement, DeMello responded in an email:

“I totally missed the date on the new story. I have added it to the packet of information for the District Attorney’s Office and pulled specific clips out for them to view. As I explained before this will come into play further in the process. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.  As far as people going public with it, you can’t stop people from doing what they want to do, but what I would encourage you to tell them there is nothing to be gained from it at this time only people to be hurt. I assure you that this information will be given to the proper authorities so that at adjudication time it can be dealt with,” DeMello wrote.

DeMello said she could not answer questions about or recall certain aspects of the months-old email when asked. She did not respond to follow-up questions sent via email, but in an interview, said any responses would need to be reviewed by the town’s attorney, her supervisors, and the town manager due to the sensitivity of the case.

As a witness, Dutterer said the general circumstances of the case  — not Officer DeMello specifically  — made her uncomfortable. “I had a fear of calling the police station because [Cin Brochure] was the mayor,” she said. “I figured it would get back to her.”

Dutterer said she knows Mayor Brochure socially. She even volunteered at a 2017 fundraising event for Brochure’s mayoral campaign, she said.

I like and respect the mayor,” Dutterer said. “Most parents are going to defend their children. Most parents are going to do what they can to help their children. So I don’t even really have an attitude about that she bailed him out because I see that as a normal parent thing.”

But still, Dutterer felt Mayor Brochure’s role as the town’s top politician complicated the town’s police department’s investigation into her son. “Do I feel like whom he was related to possibly could have affected his outcome? Sure, certainly. The house was searched before the election but nothing was done? I’m sorry, it’s just a little hokey,” she said.

Upon learning the state’s apparent lack of standing to bring perjury or obstruction of justice charges forward, Dutterer was disappointed. “How is that not beyond a reasonable doubt? That just kills me. But that’s our judicial system. It sucks.”

When Brochure made bail in early July, Dutterer said her son was in his company the next day around other minor children under his supervision. “He knowingly violated the pretrial agreement,” she said. “He didn’t do it in error — he knowingly violated it. And he did it the very next day.”

As an outsider to the judicial system, Dutterer said she cannot grasp how violating court orders and presenting false testimony doesn’t change a sentencing outcome.

“I just can’t see how those are not factors in a plea agreement,” she said. “To find that these things are not an issue and don’t seem to have affected the outcome, is, kind of sad.”

Benjamin Schachtman and Michael Praats contributed to reporting this piece. 


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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