CINCINNATI — The former manager for the Village of Lincoln Heights, Rebecca Hopkins, avoided jail time for illegally spending more than $61,000 in taxpayer money.
A Hamilton County judge sentenced Hopkins to five years of probation Tuesday after prosecutors said Hopkins had been cooperative during the investigation.
Hopkins pleaded guilty to theft in office on Feb. 4. She racked up $70,160 in inappropriate credit card purchases, fees, interest and undocumented transactions, according to a report from Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber.
“Those in public office should be held to a high standard and face strict penalties when they abuse public trust,” Faber said in a written statement. “We will continue to fulfill our duty to protect Ohio taxpayers from those that lie, cheat, and steal.”
Hopkins used a village credit card for 478 inappropriate purchases between October, 2016, and June, 2018, totaling $60,592. The purchases included items from retail stores, restaurants, Amazon and grocery stores. She also made purchases at Kings Island and used the credit card on non-village trips to Key West, New York City and Tennessee, the auditor said. The purchases accrued $3,574 in interest and fees during this time period.
Hopkins, who must pay back $61,110, apologized during a sentencing hearing Tuesday.
“The village put a great deal of trust in me and I took advantage of that position and I’m gravely sorry,” she said. “I think very highly of the elected officials and the population of the Village of Lincoln Heights.”
The village suspended Hopkins without pay on June 26. Faber said she received $1,692 for eight days of work she was not entitle to, he said.
Hopkins made $9,051 worth of payments from her personal accounts toward the village credit card purchases from February to April of 2017.
In her apology, Hopkins expressed hope that the village will recover from her actions.
“I’m certainly hopeful that what I’ve done has not permanently affected their ability to re-energize their community and move it forward,” she said.
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