Charges against State Auditor McGuiness temporarily dropped after dispute over trial location

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A legal maneuver by State Auditor Kathy McGuiness’ lawyer will lead to charges being temporarily dropped with the prosecution likely to change the location of proceedings to Kent County.

Sean O’Sullivan, spokesman for the state court system, said state prosecutors “entered a Nolle Prosequi without prejudice and indicated it will submit the case involving Kathleen McGuiness to the Kent County Grand Jury on Monday, June 6, 2022. If an indictment is returned, the Court will confer with counsel in establishing a new date for trial.”

The trial had been scheduled to get underway on Tuesday but was halted after defense attorney Steven Wood said McGuiness should be tried in Kent County, which he argued is the site of the alleged offenses. Wood indicated he would move to dismiss the charges, due to what he claimed is the wrong location.

It is unclear why Wood and McGuiness waited until the trial date to seek the venue change. The former prosecutor has made a number of legal maneuvers in an attempt to get felony and misdemeanor charges dismissed that include intimidation and monitoring of staff, even after an indictment was issued, and keeping her daughter on the payroll while going to college out of state and structuring payments to a consultant in a manner that got around a state review.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge William Carpenter said Wood’s venue argument had validity and adjourned proceedings. Prosecutors say the Wilmington venue was proper, claiming McGuiness’ offenses as auditor affected Delaware residents.

McGuiness’s trial was given priority by Carpenter since the state auditor is running for re-election. Moving up the trial affected Carpenter’s backlog of cases including murder trials.

Both sides have been under a gag order to not discuss details of the case.

Legislative leaders were unsuccessful in efforts to convince McGuiness to take a leave of absence from the post, claiming the work of the office will have less credibility until her case is resolved.

Before and after her indictment, McGuiness was a fixture at events in her hometown of Rehoboth Beach and elsewhere in the state amid speculation that she would enter the race for governor in 2024.

She is a one-time owner of a Rehoboth pharmacy and a former town commissioner in the beach community.