WAPAKONETA — Wapakoneta’s mayor faces 17 corruption charges related to business dealings he conducted while in his elected position, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Friday.
Thomas Stinebaugh faces one count of theft in office, a third-degree felony; eight counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony; and eight counts of conflict of interest, a first-degree misdemeanor. The Auglaize County grand jury filed the indictment Thursday afternoon.
“My response is I’ve never done anything but what’s in the best interest of the City of Wapakoneta,” Stinebaugh said when reached by telephone Friday. “I’m looking forward to clearing my name.”
The charges, investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, claim Stinebaugh entered into contracts with family members and a business partner. He’s also accused of having Wapakoneta pay for a sewer line on a property that his private company was developing. Incidents allegedly occurred between 2016 and 2019.
“This case is a textbook example of public corruption: the leveraging of a public position to gain improper personal benefits,” Yost said in a press release. “The taxpayers of Auglaize County deserve better, and we’re going to ensure that no one is above the rule of law.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section will prosecute the case.
Stinebaugh was elected mayor of Wapakoneta in November 2015, beating Rodney Metz. He was re-elected in November 2019, topping Brandon Terrill.
Stinebaugh said he couldn’t discuss the specifics of the indictment but disputed the sewer line allegation.
“I’ve never directed anything to be done on my behalf,” he said. “I’m quite capable of paying for things myself. I was elected mayor to represent the people of Wapakoneta, and I’ve done exactly what needed to be done.”
Yost’s office initiated proceedings to suspend Stinebaugh from his elected office because the charges have been filed.