WAPAKONETA — Wapakoneta Mayor Thomas Stinebaugh was ordered Tuesday to surrender his passport and the deed to his home while felony charges against him — including theft in office and having an unlawful interest in a public contract — play out in court.
Stinebaugh, 61, appeared Tuesday morning in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court for an arraignment hearing before Judge Patricia Cosgrove, a retired Summit County Common Pleas Court jurist who was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to preside over the case.
Pleas of not guilty were entered on behalf of the mayor and lifelong Wapakoneta resident to 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 July 22 alleging Stinebaugh entered into illegal contracts with family members and a business partner. He’s also accused of having Wapakoneta pay for a sewer line to a property that his private company was developing. The incident allegedly occurred between 2016 and 2019.
Assistant Attorney General Micah Ault said Stinebaugh “entered into numerous contracts in which he or a family member had an interest.” The ethics division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office conducted the investigation into complaints against Stinebaugh.
Stinebaugh has maintained his innocence and said after the indictments were announced that he was “looking forward to clearing my name.”
As conditions of his $100,000 bond, in addition to putting his home up as collateral, the judge ordered that Stinebaugh not leave Auglaize County and that he have no contact with any individuals or entities listed as victims in the indictment.
Cosgrove asked Ault if the AG’s office intended to pursue a provision whereby a public office-holder may be temporarily removed pending the resolution of criminal charges. Ault said his office has filed a motion to initiate those proceedings.
The Ohio Revised Code specifies that if a public official is charged with a felony, the attorney general may, if it is determined the felony relates to the public official’s administration of or conduct in the performance of the duties of the office, forward a copy of the indictment to the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court with a request that the chief justice proceed with the suspension process.
If the public official contests the suspension, the chief justice is required to appoint a special commission comprised of three retired justices or judges to consider the facts and circumstances related to the offense charged.
A teleconference between the judge and attorneys was scheduled for Sept. 16 to update the status of filings in the case.
Stinebaugh was elected mayor of Wapakoneta in November 2015, defeating Rodney Metz. He was re-elected in 2019.