Former Knox County Republican Party treasurer Pamela Hinkens was sentenced to three of years probation on September 28 after embezzling thousands of taxpayer dollars from the Mid-Ohio Transit Authority (MOTA), a local taxpayer-funded public transportation service. In 2010, Hinkens was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from the county GOP.
Hinkens allegedly embezzled more than $5,000 from 2005 to 2009 while serving as director of MOTA, which is now known as Knox Area Transit. Hinkens is also charged with giving gave herself a 6.5 percent raise in 2006 that was not approved by the MOTA board.
A lawyer representing the board suggested in February 2009 that Hinkens be put on administrative leave after she resigned from the Knox County Republican Party as the party’s financials were being investigated.
During her August 2012 trial, Hinkens claimed that the MOTA board did authorize her raise, which was more than twice the salary increase received by anyone else on staff. However, Hinkens was unable to produce any documentation of a board decision authorizing the 2006 pay increase.
An audit of MOTA’s financial records conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation also found that Hinkens used state money for personal expenses such as vehicle registration.
Additionally, Hinkins made reimbursement claims for business trips which were already paid for by the public transit authority. Hinkens received compensation for a trip to a Spokane, Washington convention before she traveled, and then filed a duplicate claim for reimbursement after the trip.
Expense records produced by the prosecution also showed that Hinkens used taxpayer funds to pay for vanity license plates and personal cell phone bills, Mount Vernon News reported.
Knox County Court of Common Pleas judge Otho Eyster, a Republican, sentenced Hinkens to three years of probation and ordered her to pay $6,250.99 in restitution.
Judge Eyster ignored Ohio Attorney Generals Office special prosecutor Margaret Tomaros recommendation that the maximum penalty – six to 12 months jail time and a $2,500 fine in addition to full repayment of the money embezzled – be applied.
In 2010, Hinkens was indicted and later pleaded guilty to theft in office after over $10,500 in “discrepancies” were found in the Knox County Republican Party’s records. Hinkens was convicted of a fourth-degree felony, sentenced to three years probation, and disallowed from ever again holding any public office.