State Auditor Kathy McGuiness has again been indicted on five counts including felony theft and intimidation, this time by a Kent County grand jury.
The indictment was handed up June 6, days after prosecutors agreed to change the trial’s venue from New Castle County, where the state’s trial against McGuiness had been set to begin May 31.
McGuiness’ defense attorney, Steve Wood, had argued New Castle County was not the right place to try McGuiness since there was no proof she committed any wrongdoing in New Castle County.
The Kent County grand jury indicted McGuiness on the same charges the New Castle County grand jury indicted her on in 2021 – felony theft, felony intimidation, violating state procurement law, conflict of interest, and official misconduct.
On the felony theft charge, the indictment states McGuiness hired her daughter, then a senior in high school, to work in the state auditor’s office. She was listed as a public information officer, which was later switched to intern, records state. The daughter was paid more than $19,000 in paychecks that were deposited into a bank account that McGuiness is named on, records state.
The indictment states that McGuiness hired her daughter even though one employee was terminated over lack of work and two other employees had stopped working at the office because of reduced work hours.
Several whistleblowers alerted authorities about misconduct within the auditor’s office, the indictment reads, and when McGuiness realized what happened, she began monitoring their email and harassing them.
“She and her most senior staff continued castigating employees – witnesses – they deemed disloyal,” the indictment reads.
McGuiness is also accused of structuring a contract with a consulting firm so that it was under the $50,000 threshold to trigger a bidding process. The indictment states McGuiness entered into a contract with My Campaign Group for $45,000 for communication services. She then paid invoices to My Campaign Group in amounts less than $5,000, an amount which would require special approval by the Division of Accounting, the indictment states.
McGuiness pleaded not guilty to her New Castle County indictment, but a plea regarding her Kent County indictment was not available as of the Cape Gazette’s press deadline.
For months, McGuiness’ defense attorney has filed motions to dismiss charges or disallow evidence. Superior Court Judge William Carpenter has denied motions to dismiss charges, but he did agree to disallow evidence produced after March 31, 2022, from three laptops seized by the state.
No further information was available on when the trial against McGuiness would begin in Kent County.