Former Mayor Of Martin And Her Daughter Convicted In Fraud Case

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A former mayor of Martin and her daughter, were convicted by a federal jury of charges related to a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA) and to misapply federal funds.

On Tuesday night, the jury convicted former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson, 69, and her daughter, Rita Christine Whicker, 42, former director of the Martin Community Center, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said evidence at trial established that, from 2006 until January 2013, Ginger Michelle Halbert, 42, a volunteer city employee who worked closely with Robinson, was secretly paid with federal money.

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The money was intended for the Martin Community Center and the Martin Housing Authority.

Some of the money was supposed to fund an after school program for city children.

To conceal the scheme, the defendants reportedly arranged for the checks to be made payable to Halbert’s son.

Prosecutors said evidence further established that Halbert, who was receiving social security disability benefits, intentionally failed to notify SSA of her earned income from the city of Martin.

Under federal law, anyone who receives disability benefits is limited in the amount of money they can receive from another source and all income must be reported to the SSA, so it can properly determine eligibility for benefits.

Halbert pleaded guilty last week to a charge of theft of government money.  She is scheduled to be sentenced June 6, 2014.

Robinson and Whicker are scheduled to be sentenced July 9, 2014.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.