MOUNT VERNON — Former Knox County Republican Party treasurer Pamela S. Hinkens pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of theft in office in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
According to the AGO, Hinkens committed the theft of $10,500 from the Knox County Republican Party over a two-year period. Theft in office is a fourth-degree felony charge.
A Bill of Information was submitted by special prosecutor Ken Egbert Jr.
A Bill of Information is a written accusation charging an individual with a specific crime. It can be used in lieu of an indictment by a grand jury. An individual has to waive indictment before a Bill of Information can be used.
Released on her own recognizance by Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster, Hinkens is scheduled to return to court at 11 a.m. on March 22 for sentencing, which could include a prison term from six to 18 months, a possible fine of $5,000 and restitution. She will also be forever disqualified from holding any public office, employment or position of trust in Ohio.
According to court documents, the theft happened between Aug. 6, 2006, and Aug. 1, 2008. The case was referred to Egbert by Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher, who is a member of the Republican Party.
Prior to the thefts being discovered in February 2009, Hinkens had paid back $6,500 and is in the process of repaying the balance.
Hinkens resigned from her position as party treasurer at the end of February 2009.
The case is being prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit. The unit is composed of career prosecutors who, at the request of county prosecutors, prosecute serious felony crimes throughout Ohio. The unit may be appointed by the court to serve as a special prosecutor when the county prosecutor has a conflict of interest, or may assist a county prosecutor when he requests additional resources. Areas of focus include homicides, child sex offenses, white collar crime and alleged wrongdoing by public officials.
Republican Party Chairman Lou Petros declined to comment on the case.