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Ex-Hamilton firefighter sentenced in felony theft case

A Hamilton firefighter was sentenced to community control and ordered to pay restitution at his sentencing hearing Wednesday for admitting guilt in receiving more than $5,000 in pay from the city after submitting forged medical documents.

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Anthony Houston, 46, of Cincinnati, appeared in front of Butler County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer McElfresh to receive his sentence after he pleaded guilty to theft last month, a fifth-degree felony, according to prosecutors. He had been facing other charges.

A grand jury indicted Houston in January on four felony counts of and felony count of theft.

Houston forged medical documents from August 2015 to September 2016 and as a result received pay that was originally calculated to be $5,867.02, according to assistant Butler County Prosecutor Gloria Sigman.

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Wednesday’s proceedings got off to a contentious start, as defense attorney David Washington said his client had paid more in restitution than the court was giving him credit for.

Sick trade time was the issue. Hamilton Fire Chief Steve Dawson told the court this involves time owed by a firefighter after they resign from duty, which Houston had done after he was originally on paid leave.

“This is a standard procedure and is done when a firefighter resigns and is documented,” Dawson said.

A restitution figure of $5,416.86 was eventually agreed upon.

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After Houston declined to make a statement before sentencing, Washington told the judge the 22-year veteran of the department “was not a bad person and is a good family man that wants to correct the mistake he made.”

Dawson addressed the judge as well, saying “firefighters are held to a higher standard in order to keep the community’s trust.”

McElfresh said she considered Dawson’s statement and then sentenced Houston to three years of community control and making the restitution amount that was agreed upon.

Houston must also maintain gainful employment as part of his sentencing.

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