Pennsylvania City Treasurer Antoinette Hodge Charged with Stealing $100,000 for Gambling, Vacations
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
(The Center Square) – The attorney general’s office has charged a Pennsylvania city treasurer for absconding with more than $100,000 of taxpayer money.
Uniontown city Treasurer Antoinette Hodge is accused of stealing almost $107,000 in 2020-2021 while serving as an elected official.
“The defendant is a public official entrusted to oversee city funds with integrity and accountability,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro in a press release. “Instead, she is accused of stealing from taxpayers to enrich herself. My Office will investigate and prosecute anyone who abuses their position of power for their own financial gain.”
City Council kicked off an investigation in 2021 after a dozen taxpayers were warned of being delinquent in paying, though they had already paid their taxes.
The money came from city and school tax revenues, among other sources.
Hodge concentrated power of the three-person treasurer’s office into her hands, allowing the theft to go on while a deputy treasurer and a clerk remained unaware.
“Staff at the City’s Treasurer’s Office testified that various changes were made under Hodge’s leadership, including Hodge taking over filling out deposit slips, taking over as the sole person reviewing the tax account information, and eliminating other checks and balances within the Treasurer’s Office,” the release noted.
The missing money went toward “an expensive gambling habit” and far-flung trips.
“The investigation further determined that, during this time period, Hodge took numerous costly vacations and spent tens of thousands of dollars each year on gambling,” the release noted.
Those vacations included trips to Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Disney World. Hodge had also planned another one, this time to Paris.
Hodge’s gambling habit, according to a Uniontown convenience store manager, added up to $500-$600 per day on lottery tickets, and $500-$1,000 per day on a gambling machine. She also visited local casinos, spending more than $67,000 there in 2020, and more than $14,000 in 2021.
The missing funds were siphoned off from payments made in cash to the treasurer’s office, according to the affidavit.
Prior to Hodge’s election to treasurer, the office would work together at the end of the day to correlate the cash and checks with all the transactions made during the day, record the process on adding machine tape, then prepare a deposit slip for the treasurer to take to the bank the next morning.
When in office, Hodge instead took over the responsibility for filling out the deposit slip. Instead of daily deposits, “sometimes weeks would pass before Hodge would actually make a bank deposit,” the affidavit noted. When the deputy treasurer explained that deposits should be made every day, Hodge said “she was ‘in charge.’”
Hodge also took over reviewing the bank statements for the tax accounts each month, effectively removing oversight from the deputy treasurer, who “had not seen any bank statements for the tax accounts since early 2020.”