WAPAKONETA — A panel appointed by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor has issued a preliminary ruling that Thomas Stinebaugh should be temporarily suspended from his position as mayor of Wapakneta while criminal charges against him play out in court.
On Aug. 17, O’Connor, at the request of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, established a Special Commission composed of three retired judges — Judge David C. Faulkner, Judge James L. Kimbler and Judge Thomas J. Pokorny — to consider Stinebaugh’s suspension. On Aug. 23, the Special Commission convened to review the filing made by the Attorney General’s office as well as Stinebaugh’s written response.
The commission, in a decision announced Monday, determined Stinebaugh is legally responsible for the administration of the City of Wapakoneta, and the charges against him are directly related to his duties as mayor.
Therefore, the judges ruled that “Stinebaugh’s continued administration or conduct in the performance of the duties of Mayor of Wapakoneta, pending disposition of the criminal charges against him, would adversely affect the functioning of that office and would adversely affect the rights and interests of the public.”
According to the ruling, Stinebaugh may contest the preliminary determination by filing with the Special Commission a notice of his objection within 14 days. If he does not file a notice contesting the determination, the preliminary determination shall become the final determination of the Special Commission.
Stinebaugh, who was elected mayor of Wapakoneta in November 2015 and re-elected in 2019, pleaded not guilty in early August 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 indictments allege that 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.