DENVER (CBS4) – A former fire chief in Colorado has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his department.

David MacBean is accused of stealing more than $647,000 over three years from the Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District, a volunteer fire department in the foothills that trusted their chief too much.

David MacBean (credit: Jeffco DA)

David MacBean (credit: Jeffco DA)

MacBean pleaded guilty on Monday to theft and embezzlement. He faces the possibility of more than 20 years in prison, but that’s less than half if he had gone to trial and lost. He’s also been ordered to pay back the money.

MacBean was chief of the Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District located south of Highway 285 in Jefferson County. He had access to the department’s credit cards and bank accounts. Jefferson County prosecutors said he purchased items over the Internet with PayPal, Amazon and bought firearms with ammunition from a store in Aspen Park.

“It does not appear that it was really to improve his lifestyle,” MacBean’s attorney Dave Thomas said. “It is, I think, related to a state of mind Mr. MacBean had.”

MacBean also purchased photographic equipment and numerous guitars.

Even though MacBean failed to present receipts for his purchases, the Inter-Canyon treasurer approved the expenditures believing they were for the department. The department says it has now changed its procedures.

The department insists the massive embezzlement hasn’t affected its ability to fight fires, but it has had an impact in other ways. Money to buy more equipment, do training and upgrade facilities has been affected.

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