DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WMBB) – The Walton County Deputy County Administrator is being accused of misusing her county purchasing card.
Dede Hinote has worked with the county for over 30 years.
When Walton County Commission Chairman Mike Barker got word of potential misuse of Hinote’s county purchasing card, he decided to look into it.
It was discovered that Hinote had made a $410 PayPal purchase with her county card back in December.
“Why would a county credit card even be entered into a personal account?,” Walton County Commissioner Danny Glidewell said. “That’s the part I’m sitting here trying to figure out is how that happens because I can’t think of a way that happens that’s not intentional.”
Hinote said it was an honest mistake and that her personal card and county card look very similar which has caused her trouble in the past.
Hinote said she tried to right it as soon as possible by writing a check to reimburse the county for her error. However, she said the investigation is not warranted.
“I was blindsided and defacing me in public seems to be the thing now thank you,” Hinote said. “I just don’t understand what the offense is, what I’ve done wrong.”
The acting county attorney said regardless of whether or not it was a mistake, it is enough to open up an investigation.
“The P card policy does however say that if fraud is suspected to have occurred an investigation will be initiated and if sufficient proof is found it may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination,” acting Walton County attorney Clay Adkinson said.
The county commission voted to open the investigation and look back even further into Hinote’s card usage.
Although there was discussion about more punishment Hinote was not fired or suspended.
She did surrender her county purchase card.
Hinote as well as several county commissioners declined to comment after the meeting.
The investigation is expected to conclude and a report on the situation is expected to be revealed during the April 12th county commission meeting.