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Fire captain gets 1-year jail term for embezzlement

The Rancho Adobe fire captain who embezzled more than $63,000 from his union to cover personal expenses including a trip to Disneyland and San Jose Sharks season tickets was sentenced Tuesday to a year in county jail.

Michael Scott Bechtold, 39, of Rohnert Park, sobbed as Judge Kenneth Gnoss meted out the punishment for the theft, which occurred over a five-year period while Bechtold was treasurer of the firefighters association.

Gnoss ordered Bechtold, who was on misdemeanor probation for a domestic violence conviction at the time of his arrest, to also repay the money and serve five years' probation.

"You certainly have punished yourself in the public eye," Gnoss told Bechtold, who was dressed in a blue jail uniform. "You can't go back to the fire department. That must be sort of painful."

Bechtold, a firefighter for 20 years, did not speak. But his lawyer, Kathleen Pozzi, said he was embarrassed and remorseful.


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