WAPAKONETA, Ohio (WDTN) — The Ohio Attorney General said Friday an Auglaize County grand jury has indicted Wapakoneta Mayor Thomas Stinebaugh on public corruption charges related to business dealings that he conducted while in his elected position.
Dave Yost said Stinebaugh was indicted in total on 17 counts. Eight counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a felony of the fourth degree; eight counts of conflict of interest, a misdemeanor of the first degree; and one count of theft in office, a felony of the third degree.
“This case is a textbook example of public corruption: the leveraging of a public position to gain improper personal benefits,” Yost said. “The taxpayers of Auglaize County deserve better and we’re going to ensure that no one is above the rule of law.”
According to Yost, the charges stem from allegations that in his capacity as mayor, Stinebaugh entered into contracts with family members and a business partner. Additionally, he is accused of having the city pay for a sewer line on a property that his private company was developing. These incidents occurred between 2016 and 2019.
Though up to a judge, Stinebaugh’s charges could be costly. “The top count, the theft in office is a felony of the 3rd degree. Up to five years in prison just for that count. The other felonies are 4th degree felonies which is up to a year and a half in prison on each count. Then the conflicts of interest are first degree misdemeanors which are like a drunk driving that’s 6 months maximum,” said Yost.
The Attorney General said suspension proceedings will be initiated for Stinebaugh under Ohio Revised Code 3.16, which authorizes the suspension of a public official who has been charged with a felony in a state or federal court when the felony relates to the performance of the official’s duties.
The case was investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section is prosecuting the case.