Ex-SC Fire Chief Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

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By Alicia Barnes

FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) _ The former chief of a volunteer fire department in Florence County has pleaded guilty to taking more than $200,000 from the department.

Forty-three-year-old Shannon Smith pleaded guilty Monday to embezzlement of public funds, writing a fraudulent check, forging or altering the title to a vehicle and obtaining goods under false pretenses.

Smith was placed on probation for five years and ordered to pay nearly $205,000 in restitution.

Circuit Judge Michael Nettles also ordered Smith to perform more than 100 hours of public service.

Prosecutor Ed Clements III said the sentence should help get the department's money back. Clements says Smith could not replay the money if he was in prison.

Smith was fire chief from 2007 until 2011, when he was fired after an audit revealed the missing money.

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