Illinois Chief Gets Jail Time For Theft

An Illinois fire chief who used fire department funds to pay for personal expenses has been sentenced to serve 6 months in jail and pay more than $10,000 in restitution.

Former Brimfield Fire Chief James E. Bennett, 40, was sentenced last Thursday after pleading guilty to felony theft charges in Peoria County Circuit Court.

Bennett reportedly charged approximately $10,600 to a fire department credit card to pay for personal expenses that included fueling his personal vehicles. The theft took place over an extended period between 2014 and 2015, and was uncovered by two department members who became suspicious after a credit card company contacted the department suggesting that the credit limit needed to be increased.

Bennett must report to prison on September 5, and will be on probation for 30 months after his prison terms ends.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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