The defendant covered up his theft by altering accounting records, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said in court as Hinson bowed his head.
Hinson pleaded guilty of one count of mail fraud and five counts of tax evasion. He acknowledged filing false tax returns for 2006-2010, failing to report the $593,236.42 he embezzled as income and dodging $132,383 in taxes due, Goldsmith said.
During the hearing, Hinson's counsel, Jeff Jensen, said lawyers were still looking at financial records, and may argue that Hinson took less than prosecutors claim.
At his sentencing May 2, Hinson faces 33 to 41 months in prison under federal guidelines.
The St. Clair district serves an area along Interstate 44, about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, with a combination of paid firefighters and volunteers using four stations.
Hinson's purchase of a $55 pair of boots for his son originally triggered questions about spending, current Treasurer Dave Berkel told the Post-Dispatch last month. Berkel said that the district has had to cut expenditures and put off maintenance because of the theft.
Hinson started as a volunteer firefighter with St. Clair in 1985. He became treasurer in 1999 and added the chief's title in January 2011. The part-time job paid roughly $25,000.
In July 2011, he became chief in Ladue, and worked both jobs until his resignations that September because of the investigation. There has been no claim of financial improprieties at Ladue.
Written by St. Louis Post-Dispatch