Media Update: CAMP Rehoboth takes note of guilty plea in fraud case; Spotlight Delaware launches website

Paper delivery boy holding financial newspaper. IStock Photo.

CAMP Rehoboth Community Center disclosed that a plea a agreement was reached with the state Attorney General’s Office over a financial fraud case involving a long-time staff member..

The center publishes the widely read Letters From Camp Rehoboth publication for the LGBTQ community. The case left the Community Center in an uncomfortable spot as it had to refrain from discussing details from the lengthy investigation. Proceeds from Letters fund Community Center activities.

The center underwent other changes with the appointment of new executive director after the former director moved on to form the Sussex Pride advocacy group.

According to a statement, the AG’s office entered into an agreement with former Health and Wellness Director Salvatore Seeley.

Under the agreement, Seeley will plead guilty to one count of Theft in Excess of $50,000, agreed to make restitution of $176,199.78 to CAMP Rehoboth and have no contact with past or present employees of the center. The state will recommend a prison sentence of two years. Seeley is scheduled for sentencing on April 5.

According to Camp Rehoboth, Seeley left his role as Health and Wellness Director in September 2021, after working for CAMP Rehoboth for over 20 years.

The community center issued the following background information on the case.

When CAMP Rehoboth discovered financial irregularities on September 7, 2021, we took immediate action and notified state authorities. CAMP Rehoboth then conducted an internal investigation, which included engaging the services of a consultant to benchmark CAMP Rehoboth’s financial control policies against best practices for nonprofits. Based on the consultant’s recommendations, CAMP Rehoboth updated existing financial control policies and procedures as needed. 

As we have communicated from day one, CAMP Rehoboth has fully cooperated with law enforcement.  At its request, we did not speak publicly about the investigation while it was ongoing for fear it would jeopardize its integrity. This was extremely difficult given our commitment to transparency with the community about day-to-day operations during the recent leadership transition.

CAMP Rehoboth thanks investigators for their diligence on this case, and appreciates the community’s patience as we navigated this matter. CAMP Rehoboth looks forward to keeping pride in progress, and will continue its mission to create a more positive environment that is inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities in Southern Delaware and beyond. 

Spotlight Delaware website launched

On March 1, the  Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) launched the Spotlight Delaware website for its nonprofit newsroom. Spotlight Delaware began publishing news through an email newsletter about a month ago.

“Spotlight Delaware’s mission is to empower Delawareans with the local news and information they need to participate in our democracy and connect to their communities. Its independent reporting serves all Delawareans at no cost and empowers residents with news and information they need to take action — in voting booths, schools, supermarkets, town halls, and everywhere they live,” a release stated.

Spotlight will publish daily reporting on its website, newsletters, and social media channels and host community events. Spotlight will explore emerging media, including WhatsApp, SMS bulletins, and other technology. Spotlight Delaware content is free to the community.

Current news partners that will offer Delaware Spotlight stories include Delaware Business Now, The News Journal/Delaware Online and  Delaware LIVE, Spotlight Delaware is in the process of adding other newsrooms, and invited media outlets to make contact if they are interested in partnering.

“We’re creating Spotlight Delaware with and for our neighbors, building on conversations with hundreds of Delawareans who told us they want and need more local news and information,” said Allison Taylor Levine, founder and CEO of LJI and Spotlight Delaware. “Rather than asking people to come to us, we aspire to go where they already are, and to provide the local news and information they need to function in their daily lives, make their voices heard, and build stronger connections in their communities.”

In 2022, LJI surveyed nearly 300 Delawareans to explore their news and information needs and habits. LJI heard there are gaps in news coverage in certain areas of the state, including Kent, western Sussex, and southern New Castle counties, and in Black communities statewide. Respondents expressed an understanding of the economic challenges the news industry faces, and they asked for new models to provide more local news, particularly for coverage that fairly represents historically underrepresented communities. 

LJI and Spotlight Delaware are made possible by lead funding from the American Journalism Project and the Longwood Foundation, as well as from the Independence Public Media Foundation, The Lenfest Institute, Delaware Community Foundation, Welfare Foundation, The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, Delaware Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Discover, and M&T Bank.

Spotlight Delaware is also supported by individuals through the Spotlight Delaware membership program.

Spotlight Delaware funding is part of nearly $4 million in grants that have come into the state as legacy media deals with sharply reduced staffs and industry mergers that left “news deserts” in Middletown and other areas as weekly newspapers were shuttered.

The sign-up link for Spotlight’s free weekly newsletter is here.