Jerry Hinkle was sentenced Tuesday for his involvement in a fake police charity scam that he used to fund his gambling and drug habits.
Kevin Grasha, email@example.com
A 67-year-old “transient” man who lived on Social Security benefits set up a fake charity and collected about $100,000 from people who thought they were helping underprivileged children, prosecutors said.
Jerry Hinkle was sentenced Tuesday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to five years of probation. Prosecutors and Hinkle’s attorney had worked out a plea deal anticipating that he would not be sent to prison
For two decades, Hinkle said he worked for a charity called the Greater Cincinnati Police Athletic Association, which shut down last year after an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Among the findings was that the group’s founder, Tim Mercurio, used money for his own purposes and was “unjustly enriched.”
The charity funded the local “shop with a cop” program.
After the charity folded, investigators said Hinkle began calling people who’d previously donated to it and asked for money on behalf of what he called the Greater Cincinnati Police Athletic Organization. He’d swapped the word “Association” with “Organization.”
None of the money Hinkle collected helped underprivileged children, investigators said. Instead, Hinkle funded his gambling habit – he liked to bet on horses, investigators said. He also “has a pretty significant drug habit,” according to his attorney, David Clodfelter.
Investigators said within an eight-month span, Hinkle collected about $90,000. When investigators looked at his bank account, he had $79 left.
He was detained briefly in November 2018 and told to stop soliciting donations, said Greg Ventre, an investigator with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office who worked on the case.
The next month, Ventre said, he became aware that Hinkle was again calling people and asking for money. Among his targets were elderly people and businesses.
“Everyone knew Jerry Hinkle,” Ventre told Judge Patrick Dinkelacker. “They all identified Jerry Hinkle as the person calling them for donations.”
According to Ventre, after Hinkle was arrested, he made calls from the Hamilton County jail, describing how after his release he’d go to Kentucky or Florida and solicit donations.
“He wants the court to believe it’s his addictions that made him do this. It’s just not,” Ventre said. “Its greed.”
As part of the sentence, Dinkelacker said Hinkle could not be involved with any type of charitable organization. The judge told Hinkle that if he violates his probation in any way, he will go to prison.
Hinkle, who initially faced charges including theft and telecommunications fraud, pleaded guilty last month to a felony theft charge.
Court records list him as having “no home,” and officials described him as “transient.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/crime/crime-and-courts/2019/02/12/investigator-transient-man-funded-gambling-through-fake-charity/2846765002/