Former fire chief gets 46 months for embezzlement crimes

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Steven “Steve” Wayne Tate, former chief of the West Chilton Fire Department who is convicted of embezzling fire department funds, was sentenced to 46 months in state prison during a 19th Judicial Circuit Court sentencing on Nov. 9.

Tate is sentenced to 46 months in state prison, then six months in the Chilton County jail.

Two years of supervised probation will follow completion of the six months.

A jury on Sept. 28 declared Tate guilty of theft of property in the first degree.

Circuit Judge Bill Lewis said the guidelines for Tate’s sentencing required a maximum 46 months of incarceration.

Tate’s probation conditions include obtaining and maintaining employment, 120 hours of community service, numerous Class B fines, which can reach $30,000 maximum, submission to searches and tests and following-up with his probation officer.

Chief Deputy District Attorney C. J. Robinson said Tate’s fines likely fall between $500 and $5,000.

“He will have to pay restitution to the West Chilton Fire Department in the amount of $14,550,” Robinson said.

Tate had been arrested with two other fire department officials, including his wife and department treasurer Donna Tate and treasurer Apache Corona, who was allegedly involved in the initial embezzlement that kick-started the crimes against the West Chilton Fire Department.

(Corona’s charges were dropped in September 2016, and according to Robinson, Donna Tate pleaded guilty to theft of property in the fourth degree on Sept. 25, just days before Steve Tate was declared guilty).

Robinson said Tate confronted the treasurer who was alleged to have initially embezzled money from the fire department.

“The treasurer wrote a check to Steve Tate for money that was owed to the West Chilton Fire Department,” Robinson said.

Robinson said Tate then deposited about $33,000 of the amount for the fire department and reserved the remaining $14,550 for his personal use.

“The defendant claimed he used the money for emergency equipment, but desperate men say desperate things,” Robinson said. “He deposited public funds into his personal account, and the paper trail for that money did not lead to the purchase of emergency equipment for firefighting.”