Uniontown’s elected treasurer, accused of stealing nearly $107,000 in taxes paid to her office and $112,000 from a group of local churches, waived the charges lodged against her to Fayette County Court.
Antoinette Hodge, 53, of Uniontown, was scheduled for preliminary hearings in separate cases related to the alleged thefts on Wednesday. The charges were waived to common pleas court on Tuesday.
Last December, state prosecutors charged Hodge with theft, misapplication of entrusted property, perjury and receiving stolen property, alleging she stole city funds to pay for gambling and vacations. In early 2021, Uniontown City Council launched an investigation after more than a dozen taxpayers received delinquency notices despite having already paid their taxes, mostly in cash.
A statewide grand jury heard testimony that after Hodge was installed as treasurer in 2020, she took over filling out deposit slips, was the only person to review tax account information, and eliminated other checks and balances in the office.
A forensic audit of the office between 2020 and 2021 found that there was a loss of $106,750 of taxpayer money during that time.
In the second case, Hodge was charged earlier this month with stealing $112,484 from Youghiogheny Western Baptist Association (YWBA), a religious association with 27 individual churches in multiple counties, including Fayette and Greene.
Police alleged as the chairperson of the YWBA board, Hodge took over the association’s bank accounts, putting them behind on bills and real estate tax payments, and ultimately leaving the association reliant on other churches for financial help.
That case also included allegations that Hodge used the money for personal gain, taking multiple vacations and spending hundreds of dollars a day on lottery tickets.
She faces 39 charges in that case, including 33 counts of forgery, three counts of theft and one count each of dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property and misapplication of entrusted property.
Hodge, a Democrat, ran for reelection, but lost the party nod in the primary to Francis Joby Palumbo, who received 625 votes to Hodge’s 163, according to unofficial results.
Hodge’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment on the cases Wednesday, but earlier this month said his client maintains her innocence.
As the cases wind their way through the court system, city officials have asked state lawmakers to intervene and remove Hodge from office. Uniontown Solicitor Tim Witt has also said city officials have safeguards in place to ensure that all of the money received by the treasurer’s office is accounted for.
Hodge remains free on unsecured bond in both cases. She faces a formal arraignment before President Judge Steve Leskinen at the Fayette County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. June 15.
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