A former chief of the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison for stealing more than $70,000 from the department over four years, according to his attorney.
David Loop, 61, of Winnie was sentenced after pleading guilty in March to one count of theft of property of less than $200,000 as part of an agreement with prosecutors, court records show.
Loop turned himself into custody after the sentencing, said Christopher Henderson, Loop’s attorney.
Court officials agreed to delay Loop’s sentencing so he could watch his daughter graduate from high school, Henderson said.
“This case has been pending for a very, very long time,” Henderson said. “It’s gone through many different attorneys. But we finally got resolution, and he turned himself in today.”
Loop was first indicted in 2014 on felony charges of misapplication of fiduciary property and theft of property less than $200,000, court records show. The misapplication of fiduciary property charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, court records show.
Loop was accused of using the department’s credit card to spend more than $25,000 at a racetrack and casino in Louisiana and of misappropriating more than $45,000, officials said.
In 2013, a member of the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department’s board of directors went to the public integrity unit of the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office after the board found thousands of dollars missing from the department’s bank account and charges on the fire department’s credit card.
Loop spent fire department money for his own use between March 2009 and October 2013, according to Wednesday’s guilty plea.
Loop was voted out of his post in January 2014.
The theft and subsequent prosecution had been a hard time for the small volunteer fire department, an official said Monday.
“We have learned three critical things through this ordeal,” said Tessa Tedder, secretary of the fire and rescue group.
“First, is that we are all accountable for what happens within our fire department. Second, is that you must have checks and balances within any organization to prevent fraud and theft. And, finally, that an issue must be addressed immediately when it is brought to the attention of someone.”