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City public works employee pleads guilty to stealing thousands

A Baltimore public works employee pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $30,000 from the agency by manipulating overtime compensation between 2009 and 2011, according to prosecutors.

She'll have to pay some of the money back.

Christine Hooper, 46, of the 200 block of Garner Drive in Aberdeen, was an administrative employee at the Ashburton water treatment facility and had been employed by the city for more than 25 years, according the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office.

Supervisors reported her actions in April, and an investigation by the city's Office of the Inspector General found Hooper had "reported $33,741.78 worth of overtime and compensatory time that she did not earn," prosecutors said.

Hooper was fired as a result of the investigation, the city said. She was subsequently arrested and charged with a theft scheme, according to court records.

In a statement, public works Director Alfred H. Foxx said his department "does not tolerate willful misconduct among our employees and are satisfied with the judgment."

Foxx also thanked Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein for "prosecuting the case and delivering justice."

In his own statement, Bernstein commended public works supervisors for raising questions about Hooper's actions.

"We remain committed to aggressively prosecuting public employees who betray the trust placed in them by the citizens they serve," he said.

Hooper was given a suspended one-year prison sentence and three years of probation by Circuit Court Judge Jeannie Hong.

She also must pay restitution, though was given credit of $10,917 for unused personal leave, sick leave, and vacation time, prosecutors said.

Her total bill owed to the city is $22,824.78.

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