9 bundles of firewood among items Delaware Rep. Gerald Brady charged with shoplifting

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Nine bundles of firewood were among the items state Rep. Gerald Brady of Wilmington is said to have shoplifted from an Acme store in Newark, according to court records obtained by Delaware Online/The News Journal.

Brady, a Democrat, stole a shopping cart full of merchandise from Acme on Suburban Drive in Newark on Dec. 29, according to Newark police and court documents. He again tried to steal more items on Jan. 12, but was confronted by a store employee, those documents say.

Brady announced in a statement on Friday that he would resign from his legislative position, which he has held for 16 years, by Feb. 4. In the statement, the 65-year-old lawmaker said he had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and did not mention the criminal allegations.

He also said that PTSD "can be punctuated by episodes or conduct that may make little sense to people who do not understand the nature of PTSD." He noted that he served in the Delaware Army National Guard "during the Middle Eastern conflicts of the last two decades."

Delaware Online/The News Journal reported on Friday that Brady's resignation was linked to a shoplifting investigation. A law enforcement official on Friday also confirmed the investigation.

On Jan. 12, an Acme employee noticed a man pushing a shopping cart full of merchandise past the registers and toward the exit, according to court documents. The employee then confronted the man and asked him about the items he was leaving without paying for, court records say.

"The male acknowledged the items in fact had not been paid for," the documents state.

The man declined to pay for the items and after returning them, left the store.

The employee, who called police, said he recognized the man from a shoplifting incident before on Dec. 29, though that incident had not been reported to police at the time.

During last month's incident, court records claim the same man placed several items into a reusable bag and left the store without paying. After loading the items into his vehicle, court records say, the man returned to the front of the store and takes nine bundles of firewood.

"It was noted that the male does not enter the store to pay for the said firewood," the court documents claim.

The employee recorded the man's license plate number and was able to confirm Brady was the vehicle's owner because it was a Delaware state representative plate containing his initials. The employee also looked at a photo of Brady and confirmed he was the suspect, police said.

The total value of the merchandise was less than $200 in each incident, police said.

Rep. Gerald Brady
Rep. Gerald Brady

On Tuesday, police issued a warrant for Brady’s arrest. Brady immediately surrendered to police and was released on his own recognizance to appear in Newark Alderman’s Court at a later date, police said.

In court documents, Brady promises to appear in court on March 1.

On Monday, Brady also retired from his position as executive director of the Delaware State AFL-CIO, according to its president, James Maravelias. The AFL-CIO is a powerful labor organization with significant influence on the Delaware Democratic Party.

Brady's resignation as a lawmaker comes six months after he faced calls to step down over a separate controversy, which erupted after the public learned of an email he sent in June that used a racist and misogynistic phrase to describe Chinese women.

HESITATION: Emails show Brady didn't know if he should tell public about his anti-Asian remarks

After the email surfaced, Brady apologized in a statement sent by a spokesman. There were widespread calls for his resignation over the summer, and he originally planned to finish this term and not seek reelection.

There will now be a special election to replace Brady in the coming months. An exact date has not been set.

In November, lawmakers redrew legislative maps to accommodate for population changes based on 2020 U.S. census data. Thanks to population growth in Sussex County, Brady’s district will be essentially erased and absorbed by neighboring districts to make way for a new House district in southern Delaware.

Whoever replaces Brady in the special election faces the likely prospect of having to face an incumbent in a neighboring district.

Brady's left-leaning district includes Trolley Square. The lawmaker championed bills in 2019 and 2021 to limit plastic shopping bag use at retail and grocery stores.

Before becoming a state lawmaker, Brady served as a Wilmington city councilman for 10 years.

He has not responded to a request for comment since Friday.

Karl Baker contributed to this report.

Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. Reach her at (302) 324-2281 or sgamard@delawareonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Wilmington Rep. Gerald Brady charged with shoplifting wood from Acme