Fire captain convicted of embezzlement sentenced to probation - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Fire captain convicted of embezzlement sentenced to probation

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former Cal Fire captain who made more than $7,000 worth of inappropriate purchases on fuel and credit cards belonging to the fire agency was sentenced Wednesday to three years probation.

Scott Mackellar, who worked in Pine Valley, pleaded guilty July 26 to a felony charge of theft of public funds, Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr said.

Judge Eugenia Eyherabide reduced the charge to a misdemeanor after the 36-year-old defendant paid back all of the money, but she also ordered him not to work for "any type of emergency services, such as police, fire or EMS" during the period of his probation.

A Cal Fire investigation uncovered Mackellar's misappropriations. Co-workers noticed questionable purchases being made by the defendant and notified their supervisors, according to Cal Fire officials.

Battalion Chief John Francois told City News Service that Mackellar, a resident of the small mountain town of Guatay, used a Cal Fire Shell card to fuel up his personal vehicle, and used an agency credit card to purchase computer gear for himself at Staples and buy other items at The Home Depot.

"It's a violation of public trust," Francois said.

The chief said Mackellar was with the Pine Valley Fire Protection District, a low-paid volunteer outfit, until the county paid it $1.4 million and folded it into Cal Fire, part of the county's ongoing effort to consolidate rural firefighting organizations.

As part of that change, Mackellar became a highly paid captain for three years and five months, Francois said.

The chief said the defendant resigned May 16, following a one-month Cal Fire internal investigation.

The judge stayed 120 days in county jail pending successful completion of probation, and ordered him to perform five days or work service.

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