Jurors hear opening statements in auditor bribery trial | Health, Medicine and Fitness

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Criminal bribery charges against Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness have no factual basis and are based on a flawed investigation that included false statements used to obtain a search warrant and a grand jury indictment, his attorney told a jury. Tuesday.

Defense attorney Steve Wood used his opening statement in McGuiness’s trial to systematically poke holes in the prosecution’s claims that McGuiness is guilty.

“The evidence will show you that the state’s witnesses and their evidence is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” Wood said. “Kathy McGuiness is not guilty.”

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 charges of theft and intimidation of witnesses, and misdemeanor charges of official misconduct, conflict of interest and failure to follow public procurement laws.

“No one is above the law,” prosecutor Mark Denney told the jury.

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Prosecutors allege, among other things, that McGuiness hired her daughter as a temporary employee in May 2020, even though other temporary employees had left due to the lack of available work amid the coronavirus pandemic. They say the girl got special favors, such as access to a state vehicle, and continued to get paid even after she left for college in South Carolina.

Wood told jurors that it was not a crime for a public servant to hire a close relative, and that Saylar McGuiness “earned every penny she earned.” The state’s own records show she was treated no differently than other employees in a similar situation, he said.

Saylar McGuiness, who is among the witnesses who will testify, has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Wood also dismissed prosecution allegations that McGuiness intimidated and retaliated against employees who reported suspected wrongdoing or who she believed might cooperate with investigators. Prosecutors allege the intimidation, which included monitoring employees’ emails in real time, began as early as March 2019, but Wood said McGuiness didn’t learn until September 2021 that she was being targeted. of a criminal investigation.

Wood also said the only employee in the auditor’s office who was fired or demoted during the time he covered McGuiness’s alleged misconduct was his former chief of staff. Wood said that person was fired “for engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate.”

“The state ignored evidence that didn’t fit their story and sometimes said things that were completely untrue,” Wood said, adding that chief investigator Frank Robinson admitted to making false statements under oath in order to get a warrant to search McGuiness’s office. .

Wood also said the state papers would refute allegations that McGuiness badly orchestrated a no-tender “communications services” contract for a company she used as a campaign consultant while running for president. Lieutenant Governor in 2016, then deliberately kept the contract payments to less than $5,000 each to avoid having to have the payments approved by the Accounting Division.

“These payments were not secret. They weren’t hidden,” he said, adding that McGuiness frequently sought and obtained advice from the assistant district attorney assigned to his office.

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