DOVER, Delaware (AP) — Prosecutors have dismissed criminal bribery charges against Delaware’s state auditor on a legal technicality, but plan to seek a new grand jury indictment next week, court officials said Wednesday.
This decision comes after the auditor’s defense attorney Kathy McGuiness pleaded in a Wilmington courtroom On Tuesday the case should be dropped because an indictment obtained by prosecutors last year did not specify where McGuiness’s alleged crimes took place. Defense attorney Steve Wood said the location where an alleged offense occurred is among the essential elements Delaware law requires in an indictment.
McGuiness lives in Sussex County and his office is in the state capital, Dover, in Kent County, but prosecutors took the case to New Castle County.
Prosecutors argued that the indictment was sufficient for the trial because McGuiness serves all three counties and his alleged crimes touched on all three counties.
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Superior Court Judge William Carpenter Jr. seemed skeptical of that argument, noting that under long-standing Delaware law, the county where an alleged offense occurred is where the case is. continued.
Carpenter said basing the venue on McGuiness’ status as a statewide public servant would be “a pretty drastic change.” He suggested that, based on the prosecution’s reasoning, McGuiness could be tried in New Castle County for a hypothetical Sussex County murder due to his status as a statewide civil servant.
Carpenter did not dismiss the indictment, but he noted that if prosecutors choose to prosecute in New Castle County, they risk asking him to grant a motion to acquit the defense after closing their case if they could not establish the proper venue through evidence and testimony. The alternative, he said, was to drop the case and re-indict McGuiness in Kent County, which prosecutors chose to do.
In a letter to Carpenter on Tuesday evening, prosecutors said they would be prepared to present the case to a Kent County grand jury on Monday and suggested a trial jury be chosen the same day. The defense is expected to argue that the new indictment should also be thrown out due to prosecutors’ “unreasonable delay” in presenting a proper statement of charges.
McGuiness, a Democrat who was elected in 2018 and sought re-election last month, is responsible for rooting out fraud, waste and abuse in government. She was indicted in October on counts of theft and intimidation of witnesses, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict of interest and failure to comply with public procurement laws. She denied any wrongdoing.
The charges include allegations that McGuiness hired her daughter as a temp worker in May 2020, even though other temp workers had left due to a lack of available work amid the coronavirus pandemic.
McGuiness is also accused of orchestrating a no-tender “communications services” contract for a company she used as a campaign consultant when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2016, then maintaining the contract payments to less than $5,000 each to avoid having to obtain Division approval. compatible.
Authorities also allege that when employees in her office became aware of McGuiness’s misconduct, she responded by trying to intimidate whistleblowers, including monitoring their email accounts.
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