General Crime

* Michael Bechtold Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District captain pleaded not guilty to stealing $63,000 from the firefighters’ association

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A Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District captain pleaded not guilty this morning in Sonoma County Superior Court to stealing $63,000 from the firefighters’ association. Michael Scott Bechtold, also the district’s fire marshal, allegedly forged the associations’ checks between 2006 and last month, Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley said.

Bechtold, 39, of Rohnert Park, alleged spent the money on San Jose Sharks season tickets and a trip to Disneyland, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Raasch. Bechtold admitted the thefts when he was arrested on Oct. 26, Raasch said.

Bechtold will appear in court Nov. 14 for a possible settlement of the case. Deputy District Attorney Amy Ariyoshi said Bechtold faces 3 years and 8 months in prison if convicted of all grand theft counts but is eligible to serve his time in county jail because it is a non-violent crime.

Bechtold allegedly stole $63,641, Ariyoshi said. The district attorney’s office has made a “decent” settlement offer to Bechtold, Assistant Public Defender Kathleen Pozzi said. Bechtold also is charged with violating his probation for a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction in 2009.

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