|Hovey Investigative File
|Sept. 15, 2021
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:
Please provide all available investigation files, transcripts, recordings, videos, correspondence, police records and other records related to the investigation and prosecution of Michael Curtiss Hovey, DOB 12/17/1952. I am providing some background below to aid you in locating these records. If I can be of further assistance in helping you track them down, please feel welcome to contact me.
Hovey was a Wilmington chemist who worked for DuPont's research lab. In late 1985, he was arrested as part of a federal Drug Enforcement Agency investigation, and charged in U.S. District Court with various charges related to the fentanyl analogues and methamphetamine he manufactured in the DuPont facility, and subsequently sold to DEA agents. At the time, it was the single biggest synthetic drug lab bust in US history, and it spurred Delaware lawmakers to pass new legislation that made it possible to prosecute such cases under state law.
Hovey pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court in early 1986. However, after two years in prison, he successfully got his conviction overturned because DEA had not properly scheduled the analogues he manufactured at the time of his indictment. In 1987, Delaware Attorney General Charles Oberly recognized that he had the authority to prosecute Hovey under the recent state statute. Hovey was indicted in Superior Court in Castle County in January 1988. Assistant AG Jeffrey K. Bartels led the prosecution. Delaware State Police may have assisted in investigation and preparation of the case. Hovey unsuccessfully tried to take his case to teh state Supreme Court, which declined to hear it. He became a fugitive while out on bail in July 1989. In October 1989, Bartels and several members of the State Police attempted to serve an arrest warrant upon Hovey at a Wilmington residence. Hovey attempted to assault an officer with a knife and, allegedly on Bartels' orders, Cpl. Mark S. Lally fired a lethal round, killing Hovey. State police and/or the AG's office subsequently conducted a standard lethal force investigation, and found the shot was justified. Another state police detective involved in the incident was Cpl. David Citro.
This was a high-profile case with important legal and law enforcement implications for the state of Delaware, and received national attention. So, despite the age of the case, files may still exist in AGO and/or State Police holdings. I am submitting this request simultaneously to both agencies, and have separately made a request to the appropriate courts. Among other things, I would expect responsive records to potentially include investigation files, records of legal proceedings, internal and inter-agency correspondence about the case, copies of warrants, grand jury testimony, state's evidence, transcripts, media accounts, incident and after-actions reports, and materials and findings related to the lethal force investigation.
Even if these records were eligible to be destroyed, decisions makers at relevant agencies may have decided to keep the file due to their historical and legal historical importance, so I would greatly appreciate your kind assistance in searching for them. If you think any of these records may be in the custody of another state agency, please kindly advise me where to submit my request.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
I am a journalist, and I am making this request as part of a public-service journalism project. I authorize fees of up to $200. If the cost will exceed $200, please consult with me before proceeding. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or thumb-drive if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 15 business days, as the statute requires.
Natalie St. John
Dear Ms. St. John:
Please see attached correspondence.
Tammy L. LeCates
Department of Justice
102 W. Water Street
Dover, DE 19904