PIKEVILLE — A federal jury has found former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and her daughter, former Housing Authority of Martin Deputy Director and Martin Community Center Director Rita Whicker, guilty of conspiracy, theft and fraud at the conclusion of their trial Tuesday.
Robinson, 69, and Whicker, 42, had each been charged with conspiracy, theft of Social Security disability benefits, aggravated identity theft and five counts of federal program fraud. They were convicted on all counts.
Robinson and Whicker will return to court for sentencing July 9. They will remain free until that time.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, while the theft and fraud charges each carry maximum sentences of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The identity theft charge carries a maximum two-year prison sentence, but federal law requires that any time received for an identity theft conviction be served after any other prison sentence given. They could also be required to pay restitution, if the court finds it applicable.
Robinson and Whicker were indicted Oct. 23 along with two others, Ginger Michelle Halbert and Martin City Clerk Ethel Lee Clouse. Halbert reached a plea deal with prosecutors last Friday, while prosecutors asked that all charges against Clouse be dismissed.
The indictment accused Robinson and Whicker of helping Halbert secretly receive a paycheck from the city of Martin so that she could continue to draw disability benefits.
According to the indictment, the city paid Halbert with checks written to her son, Jeremy Pack. Halbert would then cash the checks and keep the money.
“Publicly, [Halbert] would hold herself out as a volunteer,” Asst. U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said Monday during his opening statement. “But she was going to get a secret paycheck.”
Halbert, Pack and Clouse all testified for the prosecution.
Halbert will be sentenced June 4.