(Presidentialwire.com)- The city treasurer for Uniontown in Fayette County, Pennsylvania has been charged with allegedly stealing over $106,000 in taxpayer funds.
In a statement last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office announced that Antoinette Hodge allegedly stole tax payments made in cash in 2020 and 2021 while serving as Uniontown’s city treasurer.
The Uniontown City Council initially launched an investigation in 2021 after a dozen taxpayers received delinquent notices for city and school taxes they already paid.
According to Shapiro’s press release, a Grand Jury investigation into the thefts found that Hodge used the stolen money for personal gain, bankrolling her “expensive gambling habit” and taking multiple “costly vacations,” including trips to Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Disney World.
According to a Uniontown convenience store manager, Hodge’s gambling habit added up to between $500-$600 a day on lottery tickets as well as another $500-$1,000 a day on a gambling machine. She also took regular trips to local casinos, spending over $67,000 in 2020 and another $14,000 in 2021.
Hodge was able to get away with the theft after concentrating the power of the Treasurer’s Office into her hands. This enabled Hodge to steal the money without the deputy treasurer or the clerk knowing about it.
Staff in the Treasurer’s Office had testified that Hodge took over filling out deposit slips, made sure she was the only person reviewing tax information, and eliminated “other checks and balances within the Treasurer’s Office,” the press release said.
According to the affidavit, Hodge stole payments that were made in cash at the Treasurer’s Office.
Before Hodge became treasurer, the office worked together at the end of the day to correlate the cash and checks with all the transactions made that day. They recorded the process on adding machine tapes and then prepared a deposit slip for the treasurer to take to the bank the next morning.
But when Hodge took office, she took over the responsibility. Instead of making out daily deposit slips, Hodge would sometimes wait weeks before making a bank deposit, the affidavit noted. When the deputy treasurer pointed out that deposits should be made daily, Hodge’s response was “she was in charge,” the affidavit said.
The deputy treasurer also testified that Hodge took over the monthly review of bank statements, removing the oversight from the deputy treasurer who “had not seen any bank statements for tax accounts since early 2020.”