VERO BEACH, Fla. — A former Indian River County assistant fire chief will spend 12 years in prison, plus 18 years on probation.
Brian Burkeen, 57, learned his fate Thursday in court after a judge found him guilty of profiting off a tire fraud scheme totaling nearly $300,000 in taxpayer funds.
Thursday's sentencing hearing has been in the works for the past month. It was delayed three times, most recently after Burkeen testified that his wife tested positive for the coronavirus.
Burkeen pleaded no contest in March after being charged with first-degree grand theft.
Assistant State Attorney Les Evans argued Burkeen used taxpayer funds and purchased 1,000 tires from local tire shops and then sold them on the black market.
During his sentencing, Burkeen addressed the court and stood by his claims that he suffered from severe memory loss after a crash in August 2019. He stressed to the judge that he didn't remember anything prior to the accident. He also pleaded with the judge for leniency.
Burkeen has been ordered to pay back nearly $300,000 in restitution, plus court costs while on probation, after he serves his 12 years.