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Division of Accounting Director testifies error on their part, former casual-seasonal employees take the stand at McGuiness trial

Kathy McGuiness State Auditor
Rachel Sawicki
/
Delaware Public Media
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness arriving at the Kent County Courthouse with attorney Steve Wood for day 3 of her corruption trial.

Day three of the State Auditor corruption trial focused on testimony from the Director of the Division of Accounting Thursday.

Kathy McGuiness’ lawyer, Steve Wood, raised questions about the structuring charge using testimony from DOA Director Jane Cole.

Cole said that payments to My Campaign Group were not split to avoid the threshold requiring approval, but two payments over the threshold were actually approved. Wood points out splitting payments is not illegal – and the charge the state filed only mentions splitting contracts.

Wood also attacked Chief Investigator Frank Robinson’s search warrant, which included claims that the payments were split into amounts less than $5,000.

Cole testified one payment was incorrectly approved. An email from Cole says the DOA team has operated under the assumption that as long as the additional lines from a voucher did not exceed the threshold, it could be approved, rather than looking at the totals.

The prosecution also called three former seasonal employees to the stand.

They included Virginia Bateman, who was hired in May 2020, and testified she is best friend’s with McGuiness’ daughter Elizabeth.

Bateman testified to driving McGuiness and her daughter to work in a state vehicle, and that full-time auditor employees in the office were “outwardly rude” to the casual seasonal employees.

She said that although part-time employees cannot work above 29.5 hours per week, she and McGuiness’s daughter often worked overtime, and McGuiness would tell them to “bank” the extra hours.

Documents show that Bateman and Elizabeth McGuiness were paid $17.60 per hour.

The prosecution also played audio of a phone interview with Bateman, conducted by Robinson. Wood pointed out that Robinson did not reveal the true intention for his call, which Bateman said left her intimidated, and wondering if she was the one in trouble.

Rooslie Maurice and Lizbethmary Vargas worked the front desk at the auditor’s office prior to the pandemic, and said they were paid around $15.60 per hour.

They also testified their hours were cut significantly when they returned after pandemic limitations were lifted, despite already sharing the role. They cited that as a factor in leaving, although family matters also played a role.

Vargas said she was not treated horribly, but it could have been better. She often felt forgotten when she and Maurice were left out of company parties and other office activities.

The trail resumes Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.