- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A former fire chief has been sent to prison for stealing from his fire department in southeast Nebraska.

On Thursday John Porter, 47, was given three to four years for the theft and a year for a weapons charge. In March Porter pleaded no contest and was convicted of the charges in Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln.

More than a dozen members of the volunteer Southeast Rural Fire Department watched deputies handcuff Porter and take him away.

“Anything less than imprisonment would have been a disappointment,” Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Quist told the Lincoln Journal Star. The department is based in southeast Lincoln.

Last year the department discovered money was missing from a donation fund meant to help feed firefighters on duty. It was taken from November 2010 through January 2013. Authorities later learned Porter used some of the money for a tattoo and to buy a television.

“All he did was steal from his family,” firefighter Steve Schneider told Lincoln television station KOLN. “That’s what we all are … is brothers and sisters,” he said.

Porter has repaid $33,140.78 to the department, from which he was fired last year.

The weapons charge stemmed from the discovery of more than a dozen shotguns and rifles when officers searched Porter’s home last year. He was convicted of felony theft and served probation for stealing from his former employer in Cheyenne County in 2006. That conviction made him ineligible to own guns.

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