PATTERSON, N.Y. -- Albert Melin, the former Patterson Fire Department treasurer, accused of ripping off the department for more than a million dollars, was sentenced Friday to 33 months in prison, according to Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Melin, 46, who pleaded guilty in November to wire fraud and submitting false tax returns, could have faced up to 20 years in prison.
The sentence includes an order for Merlin to repay $1.349 million in restitution and in unpaid taxes.
Currently living in North Carolina, Melin had hoped to avoid prison time in order to become a chiropractor in that state to repay the money, his attorney, Joram Aris, said.
Melin who has been free on bond since November, will begin serving his prison term on March 3.
About 20 Patterson firefighters turned out to watch as Melin was sentenced, including Fire Chief Matt Szpindor and President Eleanora Smith, who both read statements in court.
Melin, who was elected treasurer in 2013, embezzled the money by writing 130 fraudulent checks from December 2013 to October 2015 to two businesses he owned, N.A.S. Management Co. Inc. and 211 Medical P.C., U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office said.
He then used the money to pay for personal expenses including everything from a Netflix bill to vacations and mortgage payments, officials said.
The fraud was discovered when the Patterson fire chief decided to check the department's financial records after the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department experienced a similar incident.