New York Man Sentenced for Stealing From Volunteer Fire Department

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. (AP) --The former treasurer of a volunteer fire department in the Adirondacks was sentenced Friday to three to nine years in prison for stealing $230,000.

Brian Britt, 55, of Newcomb, pleaded guilty in March to second-degree grand larceny, admitting to more than 100 thefts from May 2000 to March 2004.

About half of the 26-member Newcomb Volunteer Fire Department attended Friday's hearing, and Chief Mark Yandon asked for the maximum sentence of five to 15 years ''to set an example that justice will prevail when crimes of this magnitude are committed.''

Britt apologized, explaining how he lost his retirement income and another job.

''I was a desperate person. I took the money from the fire department with every intention of paying it back,'' Britt said. ''I pray every day you will forgive me.''

In addition to the prison sentence, Clinton County Judge Kevin Ryan ordered Britt to pay full restitution. Britt unsuccessfully tried to sell his $285,000 home before the sentencing.

''The court believes Mr. Britt is remorseful,'' Ryan said. ''What really stands out is the length of time this occurred. It was not a situation where one lapse in judgment led to one withdrawal.''

The town gives the department $100,000 annually for fire protection and ambulance service. Britt was caught when a bank teller noticed that he often deposited in his personal account the same amount he took out of the fire department account, prosecutors said.

Newcomb is 92 miles northwest of Albany.