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Fire Chief who stole $50,000 from the budget, sentenced for illegally obtaining a firefighter license plate

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Aaron Eveatt

Christian Burney

La Junta Tribune-Democrat, Colo

Former La Junta Fire Chief Aaron Eveatt, 53, pleaded guilty Thursday morning to one count of first degree official misconduct, a class two misdemeanor. Eveatt was sentenced to 30 days in the Otero County jail and was ordered to pay a fine of $250.

The court granted Eveatt a stay of his sentence until Oct. 12 on account that his wife is recovering from a recent surgery. At 1 p.m. Oct. 12 Eveatt is required to turn himself in to the Otero County Sheriff’s Office to serve his sentence.

When Eveatt was given the opportunity to make a statement, he said, “I’d just like to thank everybody and apologize at the same time for this. I have had a rough couple of years, but things are turning around for me. I’m happy to say I’ve had two years of no alcohol, I’ve been in complete compliance with my probation, attended additional classes that weren’t required by the probation. I’m currently still schooling and working in between the Covid stuff. And I’m keeping regular appointments with my psychiatric doctor.”

On Nov. 5, 2019, Eveatt went to the Otero County Clerk and Recorder’s Office to try to obtain an unauthorized and non permitted fire fighter’s license plate, District Attorney James Bullock told the court Thursday. Bullock noted that Eveatt was not a fire fighter or with the La Junta Fire Department at that time.

A probable cause affidavit for Eveatt’s arrest in November, 2019 said that Eveatt dressed himself in a gray shirt that sported an EMS logo with another shirt that read “La Junta Rural Ambulance” under that when he attempted to purchase firefighter license plates on Nov. 5.

Eveatt also presented the clerk with a “Salamander” identity and tracking card, the affidavit continues, which it described as “a card used in large scale incidents for accountability check-in and grants the bearer access to incidents.” The ID identified Eveatt as the “Fire Chief.”

In August, 2019 Eveatt received five years of supervised probation and was ordered to pay $57,681.42 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and one count of official misconduct following revelations that he had been using public monies for personal use between April 21, 2015 to Dec. 10, 2018.

Judge Mark MacDonnell said during Eveatt’s sentencing in regard to that case that he had demonstrated “an unbelievable sense of entitlement,” a behavior he said was typical in cases of embezzlement.

On Thursday, the judge returned to the subject of entitlement, and cautioned Eveatt.

“I appreciate what I’ve heard today from you,” said MacDonnell. “I really did. In some ways, this case reminded me of a case that I had yesterday where the word that really came to mind was hubris. Kind of a sense of entitlement, with that particular person. When I heard the facts described by Mr. Bullock, I was thinking many of the same things. And I think some of that applies.

“But I do appreciate the fact the fact that you are working on what are probably real issues in your life. One of the things that you’ll probably need to examine in order to maintain a life of sobriety is, you know, is there a sense of entitlement?”

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©2020 La Junta Tribune-Democrat, Colo

Visit La Junta Tribune-Democrat, Colo at www.lajuntatribunedemocrat.com

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