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State rests its case against State Auditor, defense proceeds with witnesses

mark denney
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
State Prosecutor Mark Denney arrives at the Kent County Courthouse.

The state wrapped up presenting its case in the State Auditor corruption trial.

But Kathy McGuiness’s attorney Steve Wood is seeking to frame testimony from Chief Special Investigator Franklin Robinson in a way that undermines the structuring charge - focusing on the search warrant executed at her office last fall containing incomplete statements and false information.

Tensions between the witness and attorney rose as Wood persisted with questions about the warrant. Robinson said it “definitely could have been worded better” and the statements are “not entirely accurate” but would not say they are “false” either.

Wood also sought to highlight the lack of evidence pointing to exactly when McGuiness was made aware of the investigation, potentially undermining testimony from state witnesses on the intimidation charge.

Deborah Moreau, a lawyer for the Public Integrity Commission, testified McGuiness inquired for an opinion on whether hiring her daughter would constitute a conflict of interest, but did not follow through once she was told her inquiry would be on record.

Moreau told McGuiness it could be a conflict of interest, and testified that whether or not there was financial benefit, hiring a family member is a personal interest.

When the state rested its case, Wood motioned to dismiss all charges, but the judge said he will not make a decision until the jury reaches a verdict.

The defense called its first witness, Chief Deputy Auditor Amy Gulli. She was hired by McGuiness without an interview after working on a multi-state COVID-19 task-force in Delaware during her time with Pennsylvania’s Auditor General.

Gulli refuted administrative supervisor Laura Horsey’s Monday testament that she was unfairly scolded for speaking out in a meeting. Gulli said Horsey would have been disciplined more severely at the Pennsylvania Auditor’s office.

The defense also played a phone call between Gulli and Special Investigator Franklin Robinson, where Robinson told Gulli he was talking to office employees as part of a survey making sure people were hired and fired “properly” during the pandemic.

Wood emphasized Robinson’s secrecy as he seeks to dismiss the act of intimidation charge, which is only applicable if McGuiness knew she was under investigation.

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