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Ex-legislative aide guilty of stealing donated funds

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DOVER, Del. (AP) — A former General Assembly employee accused of stealing money that had been donated to a colleague as a retirement gift was convicted Thursday on two felony counts.

A Kent County jury convicted Dawn Hill, 52, of theft from a person age 62 or older, and issuing a bad check over $1,500.

Hill is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16. Prosecutors are not seeking prison time but instead will ask for probation and restitution.

Hill, who worked as an executive assistant to the legislature’s controller general, was accused of taking money that had been raised in 2018 for former Secretary of the Senate Bernard Brady and using it for more than a year to pay her credit card bills.

Hill, who described Brady as “a close friend” during testimony on Wednesday, denied the allegations.

“I gave every penny that I received directly to Bernard Brady,” she said.

Hill and her attorney, Scott Chambers, declined to comment on the verdict Thursday.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings issued a statement praising the jury’s decision, describing it a “clear message that no one is above justice.”

“Today, a former public official — someone who was responsible for the General Assembly’s fiscal accountability — is guilty of stealing from a lifetime public servant,” Jennings said.

Brady, an unassuming and unfailingly polite man who became a beloved fixture in Legislative Hall during his 39 years of Senate service, retired in 2018. Hill led a fundraising effort among lawmakers and legislative staffers to raise money to fund a trip to Ireland for him.

Brady testified that he told Hill to hold on to the money until he was ready to book a trip, but prosecutors say she instead spent it on herself. Brady, who has yet to take the trip, received the money only after former Senate chief of staff Debra Allen told Hill in October 2019 that she needed to give it to him.

In November 2019, Hill gave Brady a check for $6,450 drawn on one of her bank accounts, and a separate check for $2,790 from another account — which had been closed almost a year earlier.

Hill testified that the bad check was simply a mistake, and that she had “grabbed the wrong checkbook.”

Prosecutor David Skoranski suggested that the fact that the account had been closed for so long and that the check was for almost $3,000 indicated that Hill knew what she was doing.

“She wrote a bad check to buy more time,” he argued.

After that check bounced, Hill gave Brady a check for $2,500 from yet another account, along with $250 cash, in December 2019.

Skoranski told jurors that donations for Brady totaled $10,245, but that he received only $9,200.

Hill testified that she collected $1,840 cash donations for Brady and $7,350 in checks, totaling $9,190.

Allen testified that she had given Hill $2,895 in cash from donations she had collected, a claim that Hill denied.

“That never happened,” Hill said.

Hill was indicted in July 2020 on charges of issuing a bad check and theft over $1,500 involving a victim over the age of 62. The jury declined to convict her on the latter charge, likely because of discrepancies in the amounts of money that were discussed in court, but did convict her of the lesser felony of theft involving a person 62 or older.