BUENA VISTA, Va. -

The former Buena Vista fire chief charged with taking money for swift water rescues courses he wasn’t authorized to teach will serve two years in prison.

Butch Lawhorn pleaded guilty to 11 counts of forgery and 11 counts of obtaining money by false pretenses. He was sentenced to 10 years on Friday, but eight years of the sentence was suspended.

When Lawhorn is released he will serve five years of probation. He also must pay $400 a month in restitution.

All told, Lawhorn took more than $21,000 from volunteer and career firefighters in at least six jurisdictions.

Lawhorn testified Friday that his wife left him because of the case. The divorce was finalized Friday. He also talked about how hard it was to tell his 15-year-old daughter that he messed up and that he would have to deal with the consequences.

Lawhorn claimed that he took the money to buy equipment for the Buena Vista swift water rescue team. He apologized to firefighters for the crime.
The prosecutor asked for a sentence of around three years. His attorney sought house arrest.