Report Finds $70,000 in Illegal Expenditures by Lincoln Heights Village Manager
Columbus – An audit released today by Auditor of State Keith Faber issues findings for recovery against Rebecca Hopkins, former manager of the Village of Lincoln Heights (Hamilton County).
Over a 20 month period, Hopkins racked up $70,160 in inappropriate credit card purchases, interest, fees, and undocumented transactions. Also, the state auditors identified a $1,692 payroll overpayment by the village to Hopkins.
In accordance with these facts, the Auditor’s office has issued findings for recovery against the former village manager for $70,160 and $1,692 separately.
A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Hopkins on several charges regarding her illegal credit card spending and she pleaded guilty to theft in office on Feb. 4, 2019. The courts scheduled her sentencing hearing for today. Prosecution is seeking restitution totaling $61,110.
“Those in public office should be held to a high standard and face strict penalties when they abuse public trust,” Auditor Keith Faber said. “We will continue to fulfill our duty to protect Ohio taxpayers from those that lie, cheat, and steal.”
From October 2016 to June 2018, Hopkins used the village credit card for 478 inappropriate purchases, totaling $60,592. These included purchases at retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, Amazon, Kings Island, Walmart, PayPal, and the Apple Store. Also, she used the credit card on non-village related trips to Key West, New York City, and Tennessee. Finally, Hopkins used the cards to pay some of her personal electric and gas bills. During this period, $3,574 worth of interest and fees accrued connected to these purchases.
Additionally, auditors identified six reimbursements issued to Hopkins totaling $5,994. There was no supporting documentation to verify these transactions served a proper public purpose.
The village suspended Hopkins from duty for 30 days, without pay, effective June 26, 2018. During that period, Hopkins received payment for eight days, or $1,692 worth, of employment to which she was not entitled.
On Feb. 21, 2017 and April 11, 2017, Hopkins made $9,051 worth of payments from her personal account towards her village credit card purchases and interest expenses. As of this date, Hopkins has a total unpaid balance of $62,801 related to these findings for recovery.
Auditor Faber will join Senator Steve Wilson (seventh district) today at the Statehouse to provide testimony on Senate Bill 10. The bill would increase the current, more lenient, penalties for public officials that commit theft in office.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies, and promotes transparency in government.