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Local fire chief admits to stealing from St. Clair Fire District

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A former fire chief has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from the St. Clair Fire District in eastern Missouri.

Eric Hinson pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Sentencing is May 2.

Hinson admitted stealing the money from January 2006 through September 2011. He took cash advances on a district credit card and used the card for family vacations in Florida and Hawaii and to pay for personal purchases. He altered records to hide the theft.

Hinson started as a volunteer firefighter in 1985. He became chief in January 2011 and was paid about $25,000 annually for the part-time job.

He became chief in the St. Louis County town of Ladue in July 2011 but resigned two months later amid the St. Clair investigation

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