POCOMOKE — A former Pocomoke police chief, convicted in 2016 of misconduct in officer after allegedly interfering with and glossing over an investigation into a hit-and-run incident, was found guilty again last week after a state appeals court granted him a new trial late last year.
In December 2016, Pocomoke Police Chief Kelvin Sewell was found guilty of misconduct in office after reportedly interfering an investigation and using his authority as police chief to gloss over and essentially sweep under the rug a hit-and-run incident involving his friend and fellow Masonic Lodge member. However, the Court of Special Appeals late last year overturned Sewell’s misconduct charge, opining the Circuit Court erred in not allowing his defense team to present a key witness.
The Court of Special Appeals remanded the case back to Worcester County Circuit Court for a new trial, which took place over two days two weeks ago. After the two-day trial, a Worcester County Circuit Court jury found Sewell guilty of misconduct in office. Sentencing was deferred.
After the prior conviction, Sewell was sentenced to three years, all of which was suspended in favor of supervised probation for three years. Sewell is currently an investigator with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
Sewell was chief of police in Pocomoke from 2011 to 2015. When two of his subordinates filed complaints of racial discrimination against the town and the department, Sewell was ultimately terminated for not firing the officers. Sewell then filed his own complaints against the town of Pocomoke, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging his was being discriminated against. For the record, the EEOC later issued a determination there was reasonable cause for Sewell’s complaints.
The issue came to a head in November 2014 when Douglas Matthews, a correctional officer, ran into to two parked and unoccupied vehicles in Pocomoke on his way home from a Prince Hall Masonic Lodge meeting. Matthews did not remain at the scene and drove to his home about four blocks away, according to court documents.
Two Pocomoke Police Department officers responded to the scene and began investigating the collision. A short time later, Sewell and one of his lieutenants arrived on the scene in plainclothes and assisted in the investigation. Ultimately, Sewell convinced the subordinate officer handling the call that the collision was merely an accident and that Matthews was not intoxicated. As a result, the incident went in the books as a mere accident and no citations were written.
The Office of the State Prosecutor investigated the incident and concluded there was misconduct in office by Sewell. The state prosecutor concluded Matthews as a fellow lodge member of Sewell and that he essentially arrived on the scene and utilized the authority of his office to essentially sweep the incident under the rug. A Worcester County grand jury later indicted Sewell on misconduct and corrupting charges and he was ultimately convicted by a jury of the former.
Sewell appealed the Circuit Court case to the Court of Special Appeals on several counts. He alleged the investigation by the state prosecutor was in retaliation for his filing of discrimination complaints against the town, the sheriff’s office and the state’s attorney’s office. His appeal also included assertions that his defense team’s expert witness was not allowed to testify. Last year, the Court of Special Appeals ruled favorably on enough of Sewell’s allegations on appeal to warrant a new trial in the case.