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Former Fire Chief Sentenced For Embezzling Almost $600,000

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Eric Hinson, the former chief of the Ladue Fire Protection District and St. Clair Fire Protection District, was sentenced Thursday to 35 months in federal prison for embezzling nearly $600,000 from the St. Clair Fire Protection District.

The sentencing came after Hinson, 43, pled guilty in February to six felony charges: one count of mail fraud and five counts of tax evasion.

Hinson used St. Clair Fire Protection Distinct credit cards to pay for all kinds of lavish personal expenses including vacations to Hawaii and Florida, Six Flags tickets, car payments, hotel rooms and meals.

None of the money Hinson took came from the Ladue District.

The abuses took place between January of 2006 and September of 2011.

Hinson was also ordered to pay more than $615,000 in restitution. Hinson brought a restitution check with him Thursday for more than $593,000.

Hinson spoke at the hearing, offering his “sincere apologies” to St. Clair citizens and the St. Clair Fire Protection District. He said he has asked God for forgiveness and described his own actions as full of “greed, dishonest[y] and arrogance.”

He apologized to his family and said he was sorry for letting his two sons down.

Hinson said he pled guilty to the charges in February to “get it off his chest” and told the court he has to live with what he did for the rest of his life and asked the court for “leniency.”

Hinson could have received up to 41 months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said what Hinson did had a “devastating impact” on the St. Clair community and deserved a “serious punishment.”

Members of the St. Clair Fire Protection District told us they have had to put off maintenance to their equipment and firehouses because of the money that Hinson embezzled.

They said Thursday was about getting “justice for taxpayers”.

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