Saturday, September 28, 2002

Firefighter admits fund theft

Former Cincinnati lieutenant sentenced to two years

By Marie McCain,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A former Cincinnati Fire Department lieutenant pleaded guilty Friday to stealing more than $1,000 from a “house” fund set up by his fellow firefighters.

        Appearing before Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Helmick, Stephen Schneuer, 46, was sentenced to two years probation, ordered to pay a $100 fine and court costs, serve 200 hours community service and complete a training course that will analyze why he stole money.

        In an agreement with prosecutors, Mr. Schneuer, who'd originally been indicted on three counts of felony theft, pleaded guilty to a single reduced count of misdemeanor theft.

        Prior to the deal, Mr. Schneuer paid back the money he stole and resigned from the fire department, officials said.

        One of three people authorized to access the fund for Engine Co. 29, Mr. Schneuer wrote checks for money he used to pay personal expenses such as cable bills, a credit card bill and a car payment.

        A commanding officer, he had earned more than $60,000 annually. Judge Helmick asked Mr. Schneuer why he'd risk his career to steal less than 2 percent of his salary.

        Mr. Schneuer had no explanation other than to say he had to pay child support.

        He told the judge he now earns $12 an hour putting up fences.

        A second Cincinnati firefighter also indicted on theft charges for allegedly taking money from his firehouse fund is scheduled to appear in court next week.

        Capt. Brian Crutchfield is charged with three counts of felony theft and one count of tampering with evidence.

        He allegedly stole as much as $3,500 between December 2000 and April 2001.

        Firefighters make contributions to the firehouse funds every two-week pay period. The money is used to buy incidentals such as condiments and other food for the firefighters. The funds have also been used to purchase televisions or even exercise equipment — items that the city doesn't provide.


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