Opening statements are set to begin in the criminal corruption trial of Delaware’s state auditor following completion of jury selection Monday.
A panel of seven men and five women was seated in the trial of Auditor Kathy McGuiness, whose initial jury was tossed after the trial was moved from Wilmington to Dover earlier this month.
McGuiness, a Democrat who was elected in 2018 and filed for reelection last month, is responsible for rooting out government fraud, waste and abuse. She was indicted in October on felony counts of theft and witness intimidation, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict of interest and noncompliance with procurement laws. She has denied any wrongdoing.
The charges include allegations that McGuiness hired her daughter as a temporary employee in May 2020, even though other temporary employees had left because of the lack of available work amid the coronavirus pandemic.
McGuiness is also accused of orchestrating a no-bid “communications services” contract for a company she had used as a campaign consultant when running for lieutenant governor in 2016, then keeping the contract payments under $5,000 each to avoid having to get payments approved by the Division of Accounting.
Authorities also allege that when employees in her office became aware of McGuiness’ misconduct, she responded by trying to intimidate the whistleblowers, including monitoring their email accounts.
The trial was moved from New Castle County to Kent County after the defense argued last month that the indictment against McGuiness should be dismissed because it failed to say where her alleged crimes occurred.
McGuiness lives in Sussex County and her office is Dover, but prosecutors brought the case in New Castle County, later arguing that because McGuiness is a statewide official, her alleged crimes affected all three counties.
Prosecutors nevertheless opted to re-indict McGuiness in Kent County last week after Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. appeared skeptical of their arguments regarding proper venue.
The judge warned prosecutors that if they decided to proceed in New Castle County, they risked having him grant a defense motion for acquittal after they rest their case if they were unable to establish proper venue through evidence and testimony.