Auditor: Former Lincoln Heights village manager racked up $70K ‘inappropriate’ expenses

Auditor: Former Lincoln Heights village manager racked up $70K ‘inappropriate’ expenses
Rebecca Hopkins in court Tuesday (Photo: FOX19 NOW)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The former village manager of Lincoln Heights racked up $70,160 in inappropriate credit card purchases, interest, fees, and undocumented transactions over a 10-year period, Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber’s Office announced Tuesday.

Rebecca Hopkins also received a $1,692 payroll over-payment from the village, auditors said.

Now, they want her to pay it all back and issued findings for recovery.

“Those in public office should be held to a high standard and face strict penalties when they abuse public trust,” Faber said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to fulfill our duty to protect Ohio taxpayers from those that lie, cheat, and steal.”

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted her last month on several charges regarding her illegal credit card spending.

She pleaded guilty to theft in office during a brief court appearance Tuesday and avoided jail time, receiving five years probation.

From October 2016 to June, Hopkins used the village credit card for 478 inappropriate purchases, totaling $60,592, according to the Auditor’s Office.

These included purchases at retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, Amazon, Kings Island, Walmart, PayPal, and the Apple Store. She also used the credit card on non-village related trips to Key West, New York City, and Tennessee and to pay some personal electric and gas bills, Faber said.

During this period, $3,574 worth of interest and fees accrued connected to these purchases.

Additionally, auditors said they 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.

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, according to the auditor's office.

As of this date, Hopkins has a total unpaid balance of $62,801 related to these findings for recovery.

Faber plans to join Republican State Sen. Steve Wilson at the Statehouse in Columbus Tuesday to testify for 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.

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