WOODBURY, N.J. (AP) — The former chief of a southern New Jersey volunteer fire department has been sentenced to three years in state prison for stealing thousands of dollars from the department.

Harry Simpson was also ordered Friday to pay $11,900 in restitution to the Clayton Fire Department. The 45-year-old Clayton resident had pleaded guilty last December to official misconduct.

Gloucester County prosecutors say Simpson took the money between January and February 2006. But the thefts were not discovered until the department conducted a required audit last March to close out a federal grant it had received in 2004.

As the department’s elected chief, Simpson was responsible for paying its bills and maintaining its bank account during the time the money went missing.

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