Man gets 36 months for fraud

A former assistant chief for South King Fire & Rescue was sentenced Friday to 36 months in prison for stealing more than half a million dollars from the department.

Grant G. Gaspard , 52, abused the public’s trust and exploited the people who depended on the taxpayer-funded fire department, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez said in delivering his sentence.

Gaspard pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in a plea agreement in November. He admitted to using the money he stole to buy photo gear, rifle scopes, computers and a high-definition television.

He used phony invoices and a fake company in an elaborate plot to steal money, and he misused his district-issued credit card.

The fire district serves 150,000 people in Federal Way, Des Moines and unincorporated King County. Gaspard was a 27-year veteran of that department and one of its predecessors, the Federal Way Fire Department.

The sentence of 36 months was near the middle of the range of 33 to 41 months and followed the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Gaspard is expected to start serving his sentence in a minimum-security facility at a federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., in about six weeks.

With fire department employees and his family members looking on, Gaspard apologized during brief remarks to the court.

“I caused embarrassment to the fire department,” he said in U.S. District Court in Seattle. “I accept any responsibility.”

His lawyer, Brett Purtzer, argued for a two-year sentence, saying Gaspard’s acts were caused substantially by depression and an “impulse disorder.”

Martinez said he didn’t doubt Gaspard suffered from depression, but also said there was a case to be made for a higher-than-standard sentence because of Gaspard’s “abuse of trust.”