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McGuiness receives sentence, resigns as State Auditor

 State Auditor Kathy McGuiness and her attorney Steve Wood
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
State Auditor Kathy McGuiness and her attorney Steve Wood

State Auditor Kathy McGuinness was sentenced to two years of probation Wednesday, given one year for each misdemeanor conviction, conflict of interest and official misconduct, in her public corruption trial.

Judge William Carpenter also ordered McGuiness to pay a $10,000 fine for the conflict of interest conviction, and complete 500 community service hours for the official misconduct conviction

“We hope it does convey to public officials that the Division of Civil Rights and Public Trust and indeed the Delaware Department of Justice will not be shy about confronting this conduct in office," said Deputy Attorney General Mark Denney, lead prosecutor on the case after sentencing.

In the courtroom, her lawyer, Steve Wood, announced McGuiness resigned from office on Tuesday night, effective Friday, November 4. McGuiness’ resignation has since been accelerated after she resubmitted a letter of resignation to Gov, John Carney. Her resignation is now effective Wednesday, October 19th at 4:30 p.m.

Wood also indicated in court that McGuiness intends to appeal her convictions to the Delaware Supreme Court.

"There have been a lot of claims made by the state from the beginning of this prosecution about what Kathy did and didn't didn't do," Wood said outside the courthouse. "Nearly every one of those claims has been shown to be false by the jury's verdict or by Judge Carpenter's decisions. She was convicted of hiring her daughter. That's all. To recommend a jail sentence for someone who committed the offense of hiring a daughter as a part time college intern, as the state just did, is unconscionable."

The state recommended two years of prison time, one for each misdemeanor, two years of probation following her sentence, and over $30,000 in restitution.

"We take it seriously. These cases are difficult. Cases are controversial. They're usually high profile and they're against powerful people," said Denny. "So they're never easy. Our job is to do the right thing and to follow the evidence."

McGuiness spoke on her own behalf for the first time in court on Wednesday. She maintains her innocence and says she is deeply remorseful that despite her best intentions, her better judgement did not rise to the expectations of Delawareans.

"I am filled with a great deal of regret that my decision to hire my daughter has been seen to this point as a violation of trust," she said.

Judge Carpenter said it is a great privilege to be an elected official, a servant of the people, and McGuinness was expected to perform her duties for the people.

"Your lack of good judgment and common sense, at times, is reflected in the facts of this case," Carpenter said to McGuiness.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings released a statement calling the case a "shameful chapter" of Delaware's history.

"I am grateful to our team, who showed consummate professionalism throughout this trial, and above all else to the whistleblowers who made justice possible by showing the courage to come forward and tell their stories," Jennings said. "We will continue to ensure that nobody in this state is above the law or beneath justice."

In response to McGuiness' resubmission of her letter of recommendation, Emily Hershman, Carney's Director of Communications released the following statement.

“The Governor received a letter from the Auditor this afternoon and has accepted her resignation effective 4:30 p.m. today, October 19, 2022," said Hershman. "There’s important work that has to be done in the Auditor’s office over the next couple of months including the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. The Governor plans to name a replacement to continue this important work.”

Updated: October 19, 2022 at 4:29 PM EDT
This story was updated after new developments came in on Wednesday, October 19th at 4:00PM EST.
Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.