A former Grapevine animal control supervisor was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and 10 years of deferred adjudication after admitting to stealing nearly $50,000 from the city to buy big-ticket items for himself.
State District Judge Scott Wisch also ordered Lawrence Charles Hopkins, 60, of Aurora, to pay restitution for the full amount, if possible, for items that were purchased with the stolen funds. The scheme lasted for several years, beginning in 2007, officials said.
Appearing frail and using an oxygen tank, Hopkins took the witness stand to apologize for what he had done.
"I am real sorry for the embarassment I've caused the city of Grapevine," he said. He pleaded guilty in January to a charge of theft of up to $20,000 by a public servant.
Wisch said Hopkins' poor health contributed to his decision to grant deferred adjudication, a form of probation that, if completed, will not leave a conviction on Hopkins' record.
Hopkins, a legal resident, is a native of England and moved to the United States in 1981. Wisch cited his military service for England in the Queen's Regiment and Hopkins' son's service in the U.S. military as contributing factors in the decision to defer adjudication.
But Wisch insisted he spend 30 days in the county jail.
"There's no excuse for what you did," Wisch said. "You should have known better ... There needs to be a message sent: Don't steal from the public."
An accomplice, feed store owner Arthur M. Waters, 60, was sentenced to five years probation last year.
Prosecutor David Lobingier said Waters submitted falsified invoices for phony purchases of dog food, dog cages and kennel panels to the city, and Hopkins approved the payments. Waters then purchased items for Hopkins, including a $2,600 cargo trailer, a $1,983 boat motor and a $1,250 winch.
Grapevine officials said Wednesday that many of the items were recovered, and will be auctioned off later this year. The money recouped from the auction will be credited toward the amount of restitution Hopkins must pay.
Hopkins oversaw the city's animal control division, which is part of the city police department. He left the department in April 2010.
Defense attorney Brett Boone had urged the judge to give Hopkins deferred adjudication so he would not be deported back to England.